Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation is finally over. But President Trump’s troubles aren’t.
According to a four-page summary of the Mueller report – issued Sunday by Attorney General William Barr as a letter to members of Congress – Mueller confirmed previous intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election; found no collusion by Trump, his campaign or associates with Russia; and reached no conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice by trying to block investigations of him, his campaign and associates.
However, Barr decided to settle the obstruction question himself, writing in his letter to Congress: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
These conclusions are not a full exoneration of Trump, even though the president has claimed they are. And investigations by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives may further examine the collusion and obstruction questions.
In fact, some Democrats are eager to launch multiple investigations of Trump, examining his administration, his campaign, his business dealings, the charity he set up, his tax returns and his personal conduct.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has already alluded to calling Attorney General Barr to testify about the Mueller report and investigation. Some Democrats want Mueller to testify as well. These investigations could go on for months and unearth material that could help Democrats who want to evict Trump from the White House in the 2020 election.
Almost every member of the House recently voted to call for the Mueller report to be made public. None opposed. Even President Trump has said he wouldn’t mind the report being made public, but he’s leaving the decision up to Barr.
There’s no way to know, of course, if the president really wants the world to see the full contents of the Mueller report. But it’s smart politics for him to say he’s all for full disclosure, while perhaps counting on Barr to keep parts of the report hidden.
Beyond the Mueller report and congressional investigations, here are some dangers President Trump could still face, even with the Mueller investigation closed.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is continuing investigations involving some of Trump’s associates and his business dealings.
The office employs one of largest group of federal prosecutors in the country, with more than 220 assistant U.S. attorneys and additional administrative and support staff. Its jurisdiction covers part of New York City, where Trump’s business is based, and six nearby counties.
These lawyers are skilled and can tackle complex cases. And unlike Mueller, the Southern District does not have a limited mandate. That means prosecutors can follow all evidence of potential illegal conduct they uncover – wherever it takes them.
Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz has said that independence of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York is one of the reasons its investigations should give Trump “much more to worry about” than the Mueller probe.
The booming U.S. economy is slowing down. President Trump bears some responsibility for this due to his trade war with China, the needless federal government shutdown he created, and his erratic policy shifts announced on Twitter that have created uncertainty in financial markets about what he will do next.
Candidate Trump’s grandiose promises of shuttered factories reopening and expanding have proven to be wishful thinking. And economists say the president’s prediction that the economy will grow 3 percent or more this year was overly optimistic.
On top of this, growing numbers of voters are realizing that tax cuts passed by Republicans are doing much more for the rich than average Americans.
If voters aren’t happy about their own economic situation, they’re motivated to put the party out of power in the White House.
Allegations by Women
At least 23 woman have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s. And adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal have said they had extramarital affairs with Trump and received hush money payments to keep quiet.
On top of this, the “Access Hollywood” tape that came out shortly before the 2016 election showed Trump talking about grabbing women by their private parts and kissing them.
Trump has always denied wrongdoing. But since he was elected the #MeToo movement has blossomed and some very prominent men in the media, business, government and other fields have lost their jobs after being accused of sexual misconduct.
The movement is not over and neither are the accusations. Although most of the women who accused Trump spoke out but did not take action. Summer Zervos filed a defamation suit that is still making its way through the courts. Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump kissed her without her consent during the 2016 presidential campaign.
These two lawsuits might cause added pressure and negative news coverage for the president, and could prompt additional women to take legal action against him. This could worsen the gender gap in his approval ratings, costing him the support of more female voters next year.
According to an ABC News poll earlier this year, while 49 percent of men approve of the president’s job performance, only 27 percent of women do.
And speaking of polls, they show the president’s overall job approval ratings remain lower than his disapproval ratings. In rounded numbers, the latest RealClear Politics average of polls put his approval rating at 44 percent and his disapproval rating at 52 percent.
The midterm elections seemed to be a referendum on the president. Democrats gained 40 seats in the House and took over the majority in that chamber.
Since he is up for re-election next year, the 2020 election is far more likely to be a referendum on the president. Polls show Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 13 points and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 11 points in head-to-head matchups in a presidential race.
Broken campaign promises
The president has a long list of broken campaign promises. There’s not enough space to list them all here.
He told voters he would build a wall along our southern border and said Mexico would pay for it. Mexican leaders have made clear that their nation will never pay for the wall, so now Trump is willing to take funds from our military for the project, endangering our national security.
Trump promised to never cut Medicare but his latest budget proposal proposes large cuts to the health care program for older Americans.
And just this week the president again promised to come up with a better health insurance program to replace ObamaCare, while at the same time ordering the Justice Department to seek to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the courts.
If ObamaCare ends, about 21 million people could lose their health insurance coverage. It’s a safe bet that this would increase votes for any Democrat who runs against Trump next year.
Not many people losing their health insurance would be inclined to vote for President Trump.
This is only a partial list of the hurdles the president must jump if he hopes to win another term in the White House. So despite the victory lap he is running now in the wake of the Mueller investigation, he needs to be aware of tough times still ahead.