Donald Trump Heads for Victories, Despite Michael Cohen
Author: Greg Valliere
February 27, 2019
MICHAEL COHEN WON’T MATTER MUCH: All the juicy stuff has been leaked; the real excitement will come during Q&A. Our litmus test for most everything in Washington is whether it will affect the markets — and our sense is that the Cohen circus will have virtually no impact.
TODAY’S HEARING WON’T HAVE A BIG IMPACT politically, because the activists on both sides are dug in; nothing will change their views of him. And the hearing won’t have much of an impact on Robert Mueller, who has already interrogated Cohen for hours. As for the markets, a skirmish between Pakistan and India had a bigger impact yesterday, and of course there was dovish testimony from Jay Powell.
ACTUALLY, THE BIGGEST THREAT to Trump will come as Cohen describes hush payments to Stormy Daniels — a clear violation of campaign laws, according to most experts, but does lying about sex meet the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanors? It didn’t for Bill Clinton.
HERE’S WHERE COHEN COULD HAVE AN IMPACT: Trump has had a rocky winter, and he desperately needs a victory. Many of his advisers worry that Trump will be too eager to cut a deal with Kim Jong-un, but no one can spin like Trump, who will portray the Vietnam summit as a great victory, whether it is or not.
A CHINA PACT IS MORE IMPORTANT: It’s increasingly clear that Trump will take virtually any deal with China. Trump’s trade hawks are dismayed by what’s shaping up as a modest deal, with vague promises on compliance. Today’s New York Times reports on the increasing frustration from top trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer, who may be sensing that a deal will be toothless.
FOR THE MARKETS, the big story is that a protracted trade war is unlikely, removing still another economic uncertainty. And that’s what Trump wants — happy markets heading into his re-election campaign.
SO EXCUSE OUR CYNICISM, but the Cohen testimony means little. Watching it may be a guilty pleasure today, but Trump will get something from North Korea and, eventually, an enormous public relations victory as a China trade deal is signed at Mar-a-Lago. And he will win a veto fight, upholding his declaration of a national emergency over the border.
THE BIGGER POLITICAL STORY is the Democrats’ sharp veer to the left on taxes, the Green New Deal, and now the embrace by some candidates of reparations for slavery and the treatment of Native Americans. Thanks to these gift-wrapped foils, Trump still has a plausible path to winning 270 electoral votes, barely.
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