Saturday, January 19, 2019 | ePaper
Trump will resign in 2019, former Bush adviser predicts
Alan J. Steinberg predicted Trump will make a deal to resign from the Oval Office to avoid criminal charges
A former adviser for President George W. Bush has laid out one possible - and fast-approaching - end to the presidency of Donald Trump: He will be out of office by the end of the year, resigning so as to avoid criminal prosecution.
In a Tuesday column for NJ.com, Alan J. Steinberg - who served as an Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator under Bush - predicted that while there are not enough Congressional votes to remove Trump, he will resign in 2019 in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
"The self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charge against him, his children or the Trump Organization," predicted the political operative and pundit, who also advised former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman.
Steinberg wrote that he believed Trump would turn to such an arrangement because both his historic unpopularity and the specter of an economic downturn make the chances of re-election in 2020 slim.
He went on to say that while Trump could easily be impeached by the House of Representatives, where the Democrats have once again taken control, it's "highly unlikely" enough Republicans senators would vote to convict and remove Trump from office.
"There are only two years left in Trump's presidential term," Steinberg wrote. "With his approval ratings in an abysmal state, and the forthcoming recession making it near impossible for Trump to stage a political recovery, it appears most likely that he will use the continuation of his presidency as a bargaining chip."
While some Democratic lawmakers have vocally supported impeachment proceedings, such a move so far lacks broad political support.
Nancy Pelosi, who was just named the new speaker of the house, has said that she's not rushing that way.
It "would be a sad thing for our country; it would be very divisive," she told Elle in an interview published on Wednesday.
The following day, Pelosi added during an interview on Today that her focus is on "getting results for the American people," not removing the president from office.
"Let's just see what [Robert] Mueller does," she said of the special counsel probing ties between Russian officials and Trump's presidential campaign.
Critics' drumbeat for impeachment has grown louder since Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress about Trump's prior business dealings with Russia and making illegal "hush money" payments to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump.
Though the president has vigorously dismissed any such talk publicly, he has reportedly grown worried in recent months about being impeached.
"I did talk to a source close to the president who said earlier this evening that the president has expressed concern that he could be impeached," Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, told Anderson Cooper in December.
Most recently, on Friday - with the federal government shutdown nearing its third week - Trump expressed skepticism that impeachment could be in his future, highlighting (and exaggerating) his achievements.
"How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong (no Collusion with Russia, it was the Dems that Colluded), had the most successful first two years of any president, and is the most popular Republican in party history 93%?" he wrote on Twitter.
"Things will settle down," Trump wrote in a separate message, contending that Democrats "only want to impeach me because they know they can't win in 2020, too much success!"
The president's insistence on funding for a proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico led to the latest government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. Democrats, empowered by a decisive victory in last year's midterm elections, have dismissed Trump's demands.
In absence of a path forward, the shutdown could become the longest in American history, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in the '90s, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress, according to CNN.