After midterms, Trump retains power where it matters

Armed with an even greater Senate majority, Trump will continue to appoint judges and, with requisite openings, Supreme Court justices– a high priority and great motivator for his political base.

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November 7, 2018 22:22
1 minute read.
After midterms, Trump retains power where it matters

US President Donald Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON -- Losing the House of Representatives will hurt for Donald Trump. Perennial investigations will now weigh on his presidency. But it will not take control away from Trump where it matters most to him.

Armed with an even greater Senate majority, Trump will continue to appoint judges and, with requisite openings, Supreme Court justices– a high priority and great motivator for his political base of support.

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He retains the freedom to fire Justice Department officials that are acting independent of him by investigating his presidential campaign and administration, knowing well that their replacements face confirmation in a Senate now more beholden to him than ever before.

Indeed, not twelve hours after the votes had been counted and with polling stations still intact, Trump was already acting on this instinct empowered by the results, firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an effort to control Special Counsel Robert Mueller III's Russia investigation.

And he will face no meaningful headwinds on foreign policy, where as it is designed, Congress' limited constitutional powers only come to bear as a check on a president when his opposition party controls both chambers of Congress.

It is true that, without bipartisanship, Trump is now thwarted from passing major legislation into law. But with the exception of the tax bill, Trump failed to pass landmark bills, anyway, even with two years of unified government.

Instead, and perhaps more advantageously, he has been granted a political gift of sorts: An identifiable enemy other than the media to blame for division and gridlock.

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While new leadership in the House will dominate headlines for a period, soon a raucous Democratic presidential primary will take up its oxygen. Democrats will appear at war with one another, while Republicans, losing suburbs nationwide and consolidating their rural base, will rally behind an incumbent who has successfully cast the party in his own image.

Politically, midterm turnout suggests the president faces few risks in the run-up to 2020. While the House is empowered to impeach him, it is only the Senate that can remove him. Otherwise it will take the voters. And history is on his side there, as well: former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both lost far more House seats two years into their first terms and went on to win reelection.

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