Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Republican Governor May Be The First To Challenge Trump In 2020

President Trump might not be in imminent danger of impeachment after the implosion of the BuzzFeed report but there are still plenty of reasons that he might not be the best candidate to carry the Republican banner in 2020. Although Trump is currently an almost prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination two years from now, the news cycle in the Age of Trump moves quickly and by primary time it may be apparent to many Republicans that another choice is preferable. The problem is that unless other candidates start preparing now, there will be no one ready to take up the mantle if the Trump presidency implodes.

This week we saw the first signs that a Republican challenger might be willing to risk President Trump’s ire with a 2020 campaign. The prospective candidate is Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland.

Hogan is rated as America’s second-most popular governor with a 67 percent approval rating. Only Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, another blue state Republican, is rated higher. Hogan has been firing warning shots at President Trump. Politico reports that Hogan has been meeting with prominent Never Trump Republicans, implicitly attacking Trump in speeches, and is planning a trip to Iowa in March.

As an example, when Hogan delivered his second inaugural address last Wednesday, he didn’t mention Trump by name but did attack the “debilitating politics” of Washington. He also noted that his father, Rep. Lawrence Hogan, was the first Republican congressman to support the removal of Richard Nixon, saying, “Despite tremendous political pressure, he put aside partisanship and answered the demands of his conscience to do what he thought was the right thing for the nation that he loved.”

Baltimore Magazine describes Hogan as a fiscal conservative who ascended to power by attacks on Gov Martin O’Malley, who non-Marylanders might remember as one of the Democratic candidates in 2016 who was not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Hogan dubbed his predecessor “Owe Malley” for his tax and fee increases and singled out his storm water management fee for ridicule as the “Rain Tax.”

Hogan took office in 2015 and his tax and regulatory reforms have boosted the Maryland economy. That accounts for part of his popularity. Another factor in his popularity is his strategy of avoiding social issues that polarize voters.  Although a pro-life Catholic, Hogan says he considers abortion and same-sex marriage to be settled issues.

Many Republicans will also have a problem with Hogan’s stance on guns. O’Malley passed new gun control laws after the Sandy Hook massacre and Hogan kept his campaign promise not to touch those laws. Additionally, he has supported a “red flag” law that would allow judges to force gun owners to temporarily surrender their weapons if there is proof that they are a danger to themselves or others. While these positions would not be popular with Republicans on the national level, they have worked well in heavily Democratic Maryland.

Another factor in Hogan’s popularity is his triumph over cancer. Several months into his first term, not long after ordering the National Guard into Baltimore during the riots following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police, Hogan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He stayed on the job even as he underwent treatment, and his courage and good humor as he faced the disease helped to make him a household name in Maryland. His bald head is a remnant of his chemotherapy.

So far, Hogan has not made any explicit move toward formalizing a 2020 candidacy, but the Trump campaign is taking notice. It would be difficult to escape the national party’s attention since Hogan’s center of power in Baltimore is less than 50 miles from Washington, D.C. As a result, Hogan is playing it cagey with his aides denying that he has any interest in running for president.

It remains to be seen whether Hogan or any other Republicans will step up to challenge Donald Trump for the 2020 nomination. Right now the Republican hopefuls are walking a tightrope between the president’s overwhelming popularity within the GOP and the looming possibility that Trump will be too unpopular to win the general election.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, January 18, 2019

Master Troll Trump Leaves Pelosi's Luggage In Capitol Hallway

Whatever else you can say about Donald Trump, the man is a master troll and an expert at getting under people’s skin. Mr. Trump may not know much about the intricacies of policy, but he does know how to add insult to injury. He did exactly that this morning when the luggage from Speaker Pelosi’s canceled congressional junket was unceremoniously returned to the speaker’s office in Congress.

The Washington Free Beacon published a photo of a luggage cart marked “military liason [sic]” that was tagged “CODEL Pelosi.” The cart is sitting unattended in a hallway that is apparently outside her congressional office.  The Beacon reports that the photo was forwarded to them by an unnamed “snap-happy tipster.”

At least eight bags are piled on the luggage cart ranging from medium size rollaboard suitcases to small, soft-sided bags. The Beacon notes drily, “It's unclear whether all the luggage belonged to Pelosi.”

The personal tit-for-tat amid the larger showdown began when Pelosi notified President Trump on Wednesday that the annual State of the Union address should be postponed until after the government was reopened. The president held his return fire until Thursday afternoon, about an hour before Pelosi’s delegation was scheduled to depart for a trip to meet with NATO commanders in Brussels, Belgium and then continue to Afghanistan to visit US troops. Politico reports that the delegation was actually on board the bus when they learned that the trip was off.

Just prior to the departure of the Air Force bus taking Pelosi and her entourage to Joint Base Andrews to board a military flight to Europe, the Trump Administration posted a letter to Twitter that notified Pelosi that the trip had been “postponed” until after the shutdown.

“Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” said the letter signed by President Trump, who himself took a military flight to Iraq shortly after the shutdown began.  

While President Trump’s base is celebrating Pelosi’s embarrassing comeuppance, I have to wonder if the childish behavior of leaders on both sides of the aisle is good for the country. Of course, it is not. I suspect that most voters look at both Pelosi and Trump with embarrassment themselves. Ultimately, the hardball tactics of both leaders serve only to further deepen and cement our national divide.

On a tactical level, angering and embarrassing Speaker Pelosi is unlikely to achieve Trump’s goal of funding a wall for the southern border. Making people angry makes it less likely that they will give in to your requests.

There are two aphorisms that may be applicable for President Trump and the current budget confrontation. It may be too late for the first, the notion that “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.” The second is still very apropos, however, and that is the warning that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Meanwhile, Day 27 of the shutdown passed and it seems that the country is further away than ever from having a functional government.

Originally pubished on The Resurgent

BuzzFeed: Trump Directed Cohen To Commit Perjury

Last night, BuzzFeed dropped a bombshell that two law enforcement sources report that the federal government has evidence that President Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The sources also report that Trump directed Cohen to set up a personal meeting with Vladimir Putin regarding the Moscow Trump Tower deal during the campaign, even as he denied having business dealings with Russia.

The allegations center around the Moscow Trump Tower. In previous court filings associated with Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, Special Counsel Mueller has noted that Cohen falsely claimed the project was ended in January 2016 in an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.” Individual 1 is understood to be Donald Trump. Evidence has shown that Trump’s dealings with Russia on the Moscow project lasted until June 2016, well into the campaign.

Buzzfeed says that the two sources told them that investigators have evidence that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie and make claims that the Trump Tower negotiations ended much earlier than they did in an effort to cover up Trump’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Per the report, the evidence against Trump includes the testimony  of “multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

Donald Trump is well known for his casual relationship with the truth. Yesterday we noted the evolution in Team Trump’s denials of the Russian collusion story. The Trump Administration line has gone from blanket denials to carefully parsed statements that no laws were broken by the president after the blanket denials were shown to be false. Thus far, however, there has been no direct link between Donald Trump and Russian contacts.

While previous allegations about Donald Trump’s involvement fell short of criminal activity, if there is evidence that the president directed Cohen to lie about the Moscow deal, it would implicate Trump in a felony. Micheal Cohen pled guilty last November to a charge of making false statements to Congress. The charge was brought by the Special Counsel’s office and it was reported at the time that Cohen was cooperating with Mueller. If President Trump directed Cohen to lie under oath, he would be guilty of suborning perjury.

The big question is whether the Buzzfeed report is accurate and the government has evidence that Donald Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. Mueller has not shown his cards yet, but we do know that the FBI raided Cohen’s office in April 2018. Three months later, several recordings of Trump and Cohen meeting together emerged. The recordings apparently were made by Cohen and were part of the material seized by the FBI. If Cohen was in possession of emails, text messages, or other written communications from Trump directing him to break the law in an effort to cover up his dealings with Russia, those communications are almost certainly in the possession of the FBI as well.

However, as Erick Erickson pointed out this morning, BuzzFeed is a less than credible outlet. So far, no other outlets have corroborated the story and  John Santucci, senior editorial producer for ABC News, tweeted that he is unaware of the Mueller team interviewing anyone within the Trump Organization. Some BuzzFeed reporting, such as the pee tape story, has not been supported by evidence while other stories, such as the revelation that the Moscow Trump Tower dealings continued during the election, have ultimately been proven true.

Many conservative pundits note that if the allegations against Trump are proven true, it dramatically increases the chances of impeachment. Suborning perjury is a charge that even most Republicans would be hard-pressed to overlook.

At the very least, the story will give new life to the numerous investigations into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia and make it harder for the president to claim that collusion is “fake news.” As we grow close to Groundhog Day, the Russia investigation will continue to dog President Trump and we can expect more than another six weeks of investigations and hearings.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Giuliani Open To Possibility That Members Of Trump Campaign Could Have Colluded With Russia

In what may be one of the largest reversals of the Trump Administration, President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, admitted that it is possible that there was collusion between some members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. While Giuliani denies that his position on collusion has changed, eight months ago he called the idea of Russian collusion “fake news.” Mr. Giuliani continues to deny that Donald Trump colluded with Russia in any way that broke the law.

Giuliani’s most recent comments came in an interview with CNN on Wednesday when he told Chris Cuomo, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign. Or between people in the campaign. I have no idea.”

“I said the President of the United States,” Giuliani added. “There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”

When Cuomo asked if sharing polling data with the Russians would have constituted collusion, Giuliani answered, “Donald Trump wasn't giving polling data to anyone. He did not know about it until it was revealed a few weeks ago in an article.”

The Trump campaign’s position on collusion has evolved over the past few years. Initially, Team Trump issued specific denials that any collusion occurred between members of the campaign and the Russians, but those denials have been walked back and limited in subsequent public statements after numerous contacts were revealed. In November 2016, Hope Hicks responded to statement by Vladimir Putin’s spokesman that claimed that Russian experts had been in contact with Trump’s campaign staff by saying, “It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

In February 2017, President Trump said, I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.” He added, “How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia.”

At the same time, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “This is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”

In March 2017, Donald Trump, Jr. said, “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did. But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly, none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

Yet in July 2017, details of a pre-planned meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 were leaked. Initially, Trump, Jr. claimed that the meeting was about adoption and said that “ it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up.”

The next day that claim evolved as well when Trump, Jr. admitted, “The woman [Veselnitskaya] stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

In May 2018, Rudy Giuliani appeared on The Sean Hannity Show and said, “Russian collusion is total fake news.” He added, “Mueller owes us a report saying Russian collusion means nothing. It didn’t happen.”

Since the interview with Hannity, Giuliani’s claim has evolved as well. In July 2018, he echoed similar claims from other Trump Administration officials, telling CNN that “collusion is not a crime.” While it’s true that there is no legal definition of “collusion,” specific charges that could relate to collusion include conspiracy, fraud, or receiving stolen information such as the hacked data from the DNC.

While it isn’t clear that anyone in the Trump campaign committed a crime, it is clear that the once-strong denials of any contact at all between Russians and the campaign have been proven false and the denials from Team Trump are getting weaker. The Trump Administration and the president’s lawyers continue to deny that Donald Trump had any contacts with the Russians, but the new evolution on collusion by Mr. Giuliani leaves open the possibility that other members of the Trump campaign could have had illegal contacts with the Russian government, either with or without the president’s knowledge.

The continual evolution on Russia along with the evidence that early statements were not true provides ample reason that the Mueller investigation should be continued. It’s possible that no laws were broken and it is also possible that the president was unaware if there was illegal activity on his behalf by members of his campaign. However, the constant evolution of the story being told by Team Trump makes the president look like he has something to hide, even if he does not. The bottom line is that the American people have the right to know if members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government.  

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Should Republicans Challenge Donald Trump In The 2020 Primary?

The assumption among most people is that the 2020 primaries will look a lot like a mirror image of 2012. That year, Barack Obama, an unpopular president cruised to the Democratic nomination while a handful of Republicans vied for the chance to unseat him. There is a chance, however, that 2020 may look more like 2016, a year when a presumptive nominee from the party in power faced a strong primary challenge and the opposition party fielded more than a dozen hopefuls.

There are a lot of reasons that Republican presidential hopefuls should not challenge President Trump. President Trump is not well-liked among the nation at large, but he has overwhelming support among Republicans. Given Trump’s penchant for attacking members of the party deemed disloyal, challenging the president can quickly end Republican careers, a powerful disincentive for presidential aspirants. A primary challenge also has the possibility of splitting the party and aiding the Democratic candidate. Conventional wisdom holds that primary challengers weaken the eventual nominee.

On the other hand, there are a lot of reasons that prominent Republicans should consider a 2020 run against Trump. The most obvious reason is that Trump is already a weak general election candidate. Despite his 2016 Electoral College victory, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, one of the weakest major party candidates in history. The Electoral College victory was tenuous as well. About 100,000 thousand votes in the right places decided the election. That is about .000008 percent of the total. Six states (MI, NH, WI, PA, FL, MN), primarily in the Rust Belt, were decided by less than a two percent margin. President Trump’s approval is underwater in each of those states today.

There is also the strong possibility that Trump’s position in 2020 could be weaker than it is now. The erratic stock market, the trade war, the government shutdown or a number of other factors could precipitate an economic downturn that causes Trump to become even more unpopular. The Mueller investigation could turn up information that damages Trump’s standing with independent voters. The president could make a policy decision, such as making an amnesty deal for DACA recipients, that fractures his base. With level-headed minders such as John Kelly and James Mattis exiting the White House, Trump’s agenda is likely to stray farther from traditional Republicanism and alienate more voters.

By 2020, Donald Trump could be in a position similar to that of Hillary Clinton in 2016, dominant in his own party but mired in scandal and unpopular with much of the electorate. In the last election cycle, most Democrats thought that Hillary was unbeatable and decided against running against her. It was left to Bernie Sanders, who wasn’t even a Democrat, and Martin O’Malley to challenge her. In the end, Sanders mounted a serious insurgent challenge but eventually fell to the Clinton machine. Joe Biden doubtless regrets his decision to step aside for Hillary, a lackluster candidate facing federal indictment.

On one hand, if Republican candidates run against President Trump and lose – or if he loses to a Democrat after being challenged in the primary – they will be persona non grata within the GOP. If challengers to Trump aren’t kicked out the party entirely, they can count on losing support from the party for future campaigns.

On the other hand, there is also a risk if Republicans step aside for Donald Trump. If the Trump Administration continues to founder and no Republican candidate is prepared to mount a primary challenge then the Republican Party could be setting itself up for an electoral blowout. Midterm results from 2018 paint a depressing picture for Republicans with the party losing white suburban voters in droves. The GOP lost nearly every demographic except for whites and evangelical Christians and those margins are shrinking. If the Republican Party doesn’t alter course to change voting patterns quickly, there is a significant risk that Democrats could gain control of both the White House and the Senate in 2020.

It takes time to put a national campaign together and the first contests of the 2020 primary season, the Iowa caucuses, are little more than a year away on Feb. 3, 2020. At the very least, groundwork behind the scenes for a primary challenge would have to begin within the next few months. A campaign would need to be announced by fall at the latest in order to have time to assemble a grassroots support network.

Deciding whether to challenge President Trump is sure to be a tough call for any Republican prominent enough to stand a chance of defeating him. Party loyalty, if not loyalty to the president himself, and a desire to protect their careers will convince many potential candidates to stand down, just as Joe Biden stood down in 2016.

Biden’s decision to step aside for Hillary turned out to be a colossal mistake after Hillary Clinton turned out to be a much weaker candidate than anyone imagined. 2020 might not turn out to have a similar dynamic. Then again, it might.

Originally published on The Resurgent

The Trade War Just Boosted Our Trade Deficit With China To A Record High

One of the frequent problems with government action is that it often falls victim to the Law of Unintended Consequences. This maxim holds that for many actions taken in a complex system there are often unanticipated and undesirable outcomes. In quite a few cases, the unintended consequence is to make the original problem worse. That seems to be the case with President Trump’s efforts to balance the trade deficit with China.

Ostensibly, the trade war began with tariffs intended to protect the American steel and aluminum industries for national security reasons. In reality, Trump has railed against the trade deficit since before his campaign began in 2015. In one tweet from 2018, Trump blamed the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs on the trade deficit.

There is both good news and bad news for President Trump on the trade deficit. The bad news is that despite his tariffs and trade war, the US trade deficit with China reached a record high last year. The Wall Street Journal reports, “China recorded $323.32 billion in surplus with the U.S. in 2018, representing a 17% jump from the figure in the previous year.” Citing data from China’s General Administration of Customs, the Journal said, “China’s exports to the U.S. rose 11.3 percent in 2018, while imports from the U.S. inched up 0.7 percent.”

The trade imbalance is at least partly due to the tax reform that revitalized the US economy. Another big part of the ballooning trade deficit is the trade war itself. Tariffs on both sides have slowed the Chinese economy and dampened the demand for American-made products. In particular, US agricultural producers have been hit by the trade war as China imports fewer American farm products and turns to other countries such as Brazil, but other American exporters have been hurt as well.

Essentially, the increase in the trade deficit is driven by the fact that many American consumers have more disposable income after tax reform while Chinese consumers are suffering through an economic slowdown that leaves them with less money to spend on imported goods.

The good news for President Trump is that the trade deficit isn’t as important as he thinks it is. In fact, according to the legendary economist Milton Friedman, President Trump has it exactly backward. When people talk about “favorable balance of trade,” Friedman famously noted, “It’s taken to mean that we export more than we import, but from the point of view of our well-being, that’s an unfavorable balance. That means we are sending out more goods and getting fewer in. Each of you in your private household would know better than that.”

As Friedman correctly pointed out, a trade deficit means that you’re getting a better deal than your trading partner. If you are getting more in the bargain than you’re paying, that is usually considered to be a good deal unless the topic is international trade.

The problem is that many people key in on the word “deficit.” In most other contexts, particularly with respect to the federal budget deficit, it means something bad. In international trade, however, getting rid of the trade deficit would mean that the US would pay more for the goods that it imports. In that case, eliminating the deficit would not be a good thing.

If you doubt that Trump is mistaken on the issue of trade deficits, consider the reductio ad absurdum, the war on the trade deficit taken to an absurd conclusion. The US could totally eliminate its trade deficit by simply eliminating international trade and investment. The result would devastate the US economy, however. American manufacturers would not be able to import raw materials or export finished products. Angry consumers would not be able to buy iPhones or other imported consumer goods, assuming they still had jobs. No one would be happy, but the trade deficit would be exactly zero.

So, what caused the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs that Trump blamed on the trade deficit? The answer is technology. As factories automate and become more efficient, fewer workers are needed and inefficient plants close. According to a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, 85 percent of manufacturing job losses are actually due to technological changes and automation rather than international trade.

If President Trump continues to insist that trade deficits are bad and presses to reduce China’s trade surplus, it is apparent that his tariff war is not working. A better solution might be to enter into free trade agreements that help the economies of our trading partners grow. As the incomes of foreign workers rise, so will their appetites for American-made goods.

While it may be counterintuitive that helping what one Trump supporter recently described to me as our “trade adversaries” would ultimately help the US economy, it isn’t a new idea. The philosophy behind the benefits of free trade is the same as the one behind tax reform, namely that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, January 11, 2019

Congressmen Waver While Trump And Pelosi Refuse To Compromise On Shutdown

It’s Day 21 of the government shutdown and there is no end in sight. As of today, the shutdown is tied with the 1995-96 shutdown as the longest in history. The leadership of both parties is resolute. Both President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have dug in and refused to compromise from their respective positions. Not everyone is happy among the party rank and file, however.

In the most recent House votes on compromise bills to reopen the government, 12 Republicans joined with House Democrats in voting to fully fund the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HR 267). Previously, 10 Republicans had voted to fund parts of the government. In Thursday’s vote, they were joined by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), the most recent chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL). Stivers and Davis did not join the 10 other Republicans in a separate vote to reopen the Department of Agriculture (HR 265).

The number of disaffected Republicans is growing. On Wednesday’s votes, Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) joined with another eight Republicans who had earlier voted to fund the government. The eight who have consistently voted in favor of funding are Reps. Will Hurd (R-TX), Greg Walden (R-OR), Fred Upton (R-MI), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), John Katko (R-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Greg Walden was the chairman of the RCCC from 2014 through 2016.

Although both bills passed the House, they will die in the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to take any action on a bill that Trump would not sign. President Trump has refused to waver on his demand for $5 billion for his wall project, about one-fifth of the estimated total that would be required, and Democrats have offered only $1.3 billion for border security funding that excludes the wall. Pelosi joked with reporters that she would only appropriate one dollar for the wall, adding, “We’re not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt about that?”

Despite Pelosi’s show of resolve, some Democrats are wavering as well. Politico reported on Wednesday that some freshman House Democrats were “freaking out” about the shutdown and the party’s strategy. A senior Democratic aide blamed some of the anxiety on the fact that some new congressmen didn’t have their offices and emails set up and were not receiving communications from Speaker Pelosi.

Nevertheless, some are feeling the heat from constituents. “If I am getting comments and contact from my constituents expressing concern that the Democrats are not prioritizing security, then I think we can do better,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.).

Even if some Democrats have misgivings, so far, they have not had the opportunity to break ranks with their party. The only funding bills active are the partial funding bills passed by the House that reopen individual departments of the federal government. The dynamics of the shutdown are that funding bills originate in the Democrat-controlled House. Since McConnell is quashing votes in the Senate, that means that Republicans have more chances to cross the aisle than Democrats.

If McConnell decides to allow the House funding bills to be considered in the Senate, it is highly likely that they would pass easily. The bigger question is whether the Senate would have enough votes to override a probable veto from the president.

As the shutdown stretches on, the effects are starting to pile up like trash in the unstaffed national parks. Federal workers are missing a payday today. That has rippling effects throughout the country as local federal employees may be unable to pay their bills and about $2.2 billion in consumer spending is withheld from the economy. Even the Coast Guard and air traffic controllers are affected. Some services, such as the ability to obtain passports from the State Department are already closed and, if the shutdown stretches on others, such as tax refunds, may be delayed.

The shutdown will continue until one side blinks. So far, neither President Trump nor Speaker Pelosi has given any indication of budging from their positions. The compromise to end the shutdown will have to come from members of Congress who feel the pressure from their constituents. Pelosi’s San Francisco seat is safe, but many other congressmen and senators represent swing districts and states. They will be ready to make a deal and, because Republicans are more vulnerable after the last midterms, the odds are that it will not include a wall.

At this point, Mitch McConnell is the key. If McConnell stays strong and protects the president then the shutdown could last indefinitely. However, polling already shows that voters blame Trump for the shutdown and oppose both the shutdown tactic and the wall. If and when McConnell determines that Trump’s shutdown is endangering the Republican majority in the Senate, he could easily allow a vote and put Trump in the position of having to veto funding without a wall or backing down. 

Originally published on The Resurgent