Rocky Start for Trump as Impeachment Process Begins — But He Gets a Trade Deal This Week
Author: Greg Valliere
January 14, 2020
NEVER MIND: After insisting during the holidays that he welcomed a Senate trial, President Trump is now demanding an immediate dismissal of all charges — but Republicans won’t comply. They are carefully monitoring the polls, which show 60% of the public wants to hear testimony from John Bolton.
THERE MAY BE JUST ENOUGH REPUBLICANS worried about their re-elections next fall to push for hearing from witnesses at the trial; they fear a backlash from voters in moderate states who tend to agree that a trial should scrutinize the evidence and call witnesses. So there will be no immediate dismissal this week or next.
THE DEMOCRATS’ GOAL ISN’T TO CONVICT TRUMP: They concede, in private, that it’s virtually impossible to win 20 GOP defectors. But the Democrats are convinced they can wound Trump, portraying him as erratic and untruthful, which also describes Trump’s daily shifts on the intelligence that prompted the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
THIS TRIAL IS ALL ABOUT MOVING PUBLIC OPINION, and if the Democrats push the needle a few points, they think their prospects in November will improve. And Trump, who is likely to over-do his furious tweets during the trial, will have the “impeachment” stigma for ever. The desire to damage Trump is visceral in this city, even if means spending several weeks on an impeachment trial that will result in acquittal.
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A LIFE PRESERVER, RIGHT ON SCHEDULE: For all of last fall, we thought there would be a China trade deal by late winter of 2020, so getting one signed this Wednesday is close enough. Timed conveniently to coincide with the beginning of the impeachment trial, the trade pact will give Trump an opportunity change the subject, declaring that this is the greatest trade deal of all time.
ACTUALLY, THE KEY PROVISIONS LOOK PRETTY IMPRESSIVE: China loses its designation as a currency manipulator, there are intellectual property protections for the U.S., more trade opportunities for both countries, and the enforcement mechanism contains the threat of fresh tariffs if they are violated. Not a bad Phase One.
THE IMPACT OF WEDNESDAY’S SIGNING will be modest on U.S. GDP, as the Wall Street Journal and others have pointed out. But the uncertainty that plagued U.S. small businesses and farmers will subside, as Trump will boast on the
campaign trail for the next several months.
NEXT COMES SENATE RATIFICATION of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada treaty, which has produced grumbling from some Republicans who believe the deal has given away too much to organized labor. But passage is likely, perhaps not until the impeachment trial is finished. In the meantime, we’re stocking up on European wine — that’s the next Trump target if there’s no progress on Airbus subsidies and tech disputes.
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