Trump 2020 – How’s it looking?
It’s not been a particularly strong week for Donald Trump, even by his standards. Astonishing developments have become the norm throughout this presidency but the sight of the world’s media covering an interview with Trump by The Sun newspaper in the UK effectively calling for the Prime Minister to be replaced and saying that her Brexit strategy was unworkable was quite something, considering he was in the UK at the time for a working visit.
Having been invited by Theresa May for the visit, which included meeting the queen, the interview caused outrage across the political spectrum and badly damaged the Prime Minister at a time when her authority was hanging by a thread.
Trump did furiously backtrack the following morning, amazingly calling The Sun interview “fake news” despite being recorded and on the record, before fawning over the PM saying she was an “incredible woman, right here, (and) is doing a fantastic job, a great job”.
The President was talking amidst the backdrop of protests across the country which attracted hundreds of thousands of protestors, spawning a million listicles just on the funny signs that were spotted, before attending a meeting with the queen.
Trump once again attracted criticism for breaking protocol by being late for the meeting before apparently wandering off in front of the queen as they were in front of the world’s press.
This was nothing, of course, compared to the fallout The President seems to have created after his summit in Helsinki with President Putin of Russia. In a meeting which took place behind closed doors, which had already raised huge alarm bells, the two discussed trade and, apparently, alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election which saw him defeat Hillary Clinton.
In gob-smacking scenes the two attended a joint conference in which Trump told the world’s media that he believed Vladimir Putin when he said that Russia had nothing to do with the 2016 election, undermining the entire US intelligence community and his own staff.
Trump had already, via Twitter, blamed the US for poor relations with Russia despite the regime’s illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine which had demolished international relationships back in 2014, and despite the fact that all America Intelligence Agencies had concluded the Russians had tried to influence the 2016 election.
Trump said “our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.", seemingly forgetting the cold war and Cuban missile crisis.
Shovel in hand, Trump continued "I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. ... And I think we're all to blame." That was before claiming his own head of intelligence was useless by saying “My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."
The reaction back in the US has been one of astonishment and sadness, even in his uber-reliable news outlets such as Fox News, where a number of key figures expressed their disappointment at the apparent weakness showed by The President.
There was furious backlash from senior Republican figures John McCain, Mitt Romney, the heads of intelligence and the speaker of the house Paul Ryan who contradicted Trump by confirming that Russia did meddle in the election.
Whether this will do significant damage to Trump’s fanatical support base is yet unclear but there certainly seems to be evidence that this move has done more damage than anything else in his presidency so far.
Of course Trump could and probably will brazen his way out of this by doing something even more outrageous tomorrow in order to change the narrative but he already went on a pretty bizarre and lengthy rant about Hillary Clinton at the press conference anyway, so it’s hard to see what he’s got left in the tank.
Calls by some on the left for this to lead to Trump’s impeachment are fanciful and very unlikely to spark any real moves by house Republicans, however, there is a real possibility that the mid-term elections in November could see the democrats regain control of both the house and the senate, meaning that they could, should they wish, begin impeachment proceedings as early as December.
There is also the reality that Robert Mueller, head of the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian interference, has just indicted 12 Russians he believes to be guilty of interference in the election, and the fact that he has already arrested and obtained guilty pleas from a number of people who worked closely on the Trump campaign.
Could Trump even make it to 2020? Quite possibly, he is the Teflon Don after all. Rumblings from Democrat HQ so far are that this will be the most open presidential primary in recent history with as many as 25 runners.
The Washington Post currently has Bernie Sanders as their number one pick to run for the presidency against Trump in 2020, with Elizabeth Warren second and former Vice-President Joe Biden in third.
You’d have to say that, given Trump’s recent performances and demolition job of almost all America’s current allies, whoever gets to run will never have a better shot of defeating the unpopular president and perhaps halting some of the catastrophic work he’s already done.