President Donald Trump has been making moves to gear up for his 2020 re-election campaign, touring regions where his base tends to reside. That hasn’t stopped CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin from arguing that Trump might not even be able to finish his first term. For Toobin, this marks the first time he’s been so pessimistic about the president’s chances to get through his first administration.
So what has Toobin souring on Trump? According to Toobin, this week’s breaking news stories on Trump, his financial activities, and his 2016 campaign are amounting to something “enormous.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been releasing a lot of eyebrow-raising pieces of evidence that those around the president, and potentially even the president himself, had lied and hidden ties to Russia both during and before his 2016 campaign.
Further yet, Mueller appears intent to cross the “red line” that President Trump has warned about: his business empire. Some speculate that Russia and other parties had been funneling resources through the Trump Organization to aid his election efforts and to influence his administration.
Most importantly, Mueller has secured an agreement with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Since reaching the agreement, Cohen has confessed that President Trump had spoken more extensively with him during the 2016 election campaign, especially regarding the so-called “Moscow project.” This refers to Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen had previously claimed, to Congress no less, that all discussion on the matter had ended during the 2016 Iowa primary. Now, Cohen claims that talks continued even as President Trump’s campaign got underway. However, it appears that Trump canned his efforts as the campaign ground on, and so far there’s no evidence that he or his company have pursued real-estate development in Moscow since he assumed the presidency. Still, some argue that since Trump’s efforts coincided with an alleged increase in Russia’s efforts to sabotage the U.S. election, there may have been ethical and potentially even legal violations.
For Toobin, the Moscow Project isn’t the only piece to the puzzle that he believes could eventually result in Trump’s downfall. Toobin argued that there are numerous complimentary stories, including Donald Jr.’s meeting with Russian officials and the claim that Jr. later talked to Donald Trump Sr. about the meeting. There’s also Roger Stone and his efforts to work with WikiLeaks to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Toobin didn’t argue that Trump will be arrested but instead that Republicans could turn on the president. Democrats hold the House but since they lack control of the Senate, they can’t effectively remove Trump through impeachment. However, if enough Republicans turn coat, a path to impeachment could open up.
Analysis: Republicans Unlikely to Turn on President
As it stands now, I’d argue that it remains highly unlikely that Republicans will turn on the president. If the Mueller investigation uncovers more evidence that the president was directly involved in cooperating with Russia or engaging in illegal activity, maybe my tune will change.
So why do I think the president remains safe? Because betraying the president would be political suicide for many Republicans. Gallup’s November 19-25, 2018 poll shows that 86 percent of Republicans continue to support the president. While this is down from 90 percent a week earlier, it’s still extremely high.
Any Republicans up for re-election in 2020 who made a public move against the president would likely be voted out of office. We’ve already seen this happen with Senator Jeff Flake and other Trump critics. Go after the president, and the GOP base will likely turn on you. So long as Trump’s base backs him and the GOP controls the Senate, the president is unlikely to face impeachment.