Thursday, April 26, 2018

BTRTN: What Would Impeachment Really Look Like? Not Pretty... for Anyone.


Freedom fries, anyone? The faux royalty of the Macron visit was just so much camo for the panic in the White House, still reeling from the raid on Michael Cohen’s office. Steve thinks that it is time to start asking what impeachment would actually look like, and he doesn’t like what he sees.
  
It was a week of pomp and circumstantial evidence in Washington, D.C., as the President of the United States preened while hosting a major state occasion for the only Western European leader who makes the pretense of taking Trump seriously. The face that the White House put forward to the public was all Macron and cheesiness, as Trump lavished the French President with the trappings of royalty, rewarding him for initially appearing to sign up for the role of Trump’s poodle.  At the same time, Macron was viewed as maneuvering to score points back on the Continent by becoming known as the only global leader who can exert influence on Donald Trump (other than, uh, Vladimir Putin, that is).  Macron, however, established that he was not le President’s chien when he threw shade on Trump’s policies in his address to Congress, dissing his host on the increasing U.S. isolationism, scolding the U.S. for its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and reminding the chamber that the United States did actually sign the Iran nuclear deal, and that commitment should mean something. Trump no doubt found it, well, gauling. It probably made him want to croak, Monsieur.
  
While the White House had hoped that the dazzle and glamour of a state dinner avec les chic Macronesians would buy a few news cycles with no mention of Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, or Scott Pruitt, fresh meat appeared in the form of Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Admiral Ronny Jackson. Reports surfaced that Jackson’s drinking problem once cause him to wreck a government car, that he doles out prescription medications so often that he was nicknamed the “Candyman,” that he is responsible for abusive work environments, all in addition to having no experience leading and managing a large organization, let alone the second most sprawling entity in government. These may be the exact four resume items you would use to screen for the absolute worst possible candidate to head the V.A.

But this news cycle had still more spin. Trump himself seemed to pump a cartridge or two of ammo into his own foot in a series of weekend tweets in which he boldly predicted that Michael Cohen would not “flip” on him. Trump apparently failed to grasp that a “flipper” cops to lesser charges in return for testifying about the crimes of the person who is being “flipped on.” In other words, Mr. President, when you tweet that Cohen won’t “flip” on you, you are pretty much acknowledging that you have committed crimes that he could testify about. Then, just hours after Macron had blown his last French kiss, word hit that Michael Cohen was going to plead the fifth in the Stormy Daniels matter. Say au revoir to the glitz, Mr. President... you are back in the swamp.

For all the Presidential bravado, it is now becoming clear that the raid on Michael Cohen’s office has Trump vibrating like a tuning fork. Recently Trump has been characterized as being “unhinged” so often that he appears to have no time available for being “hinged.” Trump’s assertion that Cohen won’t flip is merely his subconscious bubbling forth with the admission that there is criminal activity to find in Michael Cohen’s office, and with that terrifying realization, there is little else on Donald Trump’s mind.

We have expressed our belief that the primary reason that Donald Trump wants to remain President is because it is the best way that he can avoid prison for himself and his children. In the past, Trump may have comforted himself with the belief that he could bluff through the collusion inquiry by parrying any and all witnesses with an aggressive “he said, he said” rebuttal. Thusly, he reasoned, without direct evidence of his own involvement in collusion, the Senate would not convict him in an impeachment trial for obstruction. The argument? How can a man be obstructing justice if there was never proof that he had committed a crime?
  
But the raid on Michael Cohen’s office opens up an entire new world of vulnerability for Donald Trump. The warrant that gave law enforcement agents access to Cohen’s office was reported to have been based on possible violations of campaign finance laws triggered by the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and to the possibility that Cohen acted illegally in attempting to suppress the Access Hollywood video. 

These, however, seem like night court parking violations when compared to much more dangerous areas of liability, as Cohen is assumed to have played a role in any possible money laundering schemes that the Trump Organization may have been involved with. Indeed, Cohen is even suspected of being involved in potential areas of direct contact – and potential collusion – with the Russian government during the run-up to the 2016 election. 

In short, Cohen appears to be patient zero for just about any and every area of possible Trump malfeasance. Pundits were salivating at the prospect that this could lead to a plea bargain and eyewitness evidence from Trump’s most intimate advisor outside his own family. Have smoking gun, will travel.

In the grand liberal wet dream, Cohen would lead the conga line of dunces who have served as Donald Trump’s enablers, fixers, thugs, campaign advisors and Cabinet officers as they parade one by one in front of a Senate impeachment trial and sing their songs of money laundering, fraud, obstruction of justice, and the big “C,” – the cancer on this Presidency – collusion. When the roll call rolls and the bells toll in this Democratic fantasy, 68 Senators give Trump the thumbs down, and the President is measured for an orange jump suit in the Federal Confinement Resort and Spa in Cumberland, Maryland. The next day, tens of millions of Trump voters denounce the former President and admit to their neighbors that they had made a terrible mistake in voting for him. Beams of sunlight slice through the clouds and the United States of America reverts back to the precise cultural coordinates that had been in place on November 7, 2016. 

Dream on, lefty. 

The odds that Donald Trump’s presidency will end as a result of impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate are remote. While the House can vote to impeach with a mere majority, the actual conviction and removal from office requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Depending on the outcome of the mid-term elections, the Democrats could well capture a majority in the House, and the Senate will be in play. It is not impossible that sixteen to eighteen Republicans would vote for Trump to be evicted from office, but it would probably require that Robert Mueller present incontrovertible evidence that Donald Trump personally and knowingly was overtly involved in collusion with Russia to tamper with the 2016 election. 

In today’s perversely polarized politics, that absolute level of incontrovertible evidence seems virtually unattainable.

Moreover, given those perversely polarized politics, one must ask the question of whether the impeachment and conviction of Donald Trump would actually  be a good thing for the United States of America… liberals and conservatives alike.

Far from serving as a process of correction, reconciliation, and healing, the impeachment, conviction, and removal of Donald Trump could just as easily be the guns of a new Fort Sumter... an apocalyptic rupture of the long-festering divide in this country.

Simply put, if Donald Trump continues to convince his base that the Mueller probe is a liberal Deep State conspiracy-based “witch hunt” designed only to nullify Trump’s electoral victory, then we are woefully na├»ve to believe that even “unassailable proof” of collusion would not be rejected by die-hard Trump supporters as manufactured evidence. Rather, we should all expect that an impeachment could be the match that lights the gasoline-soaked tinder. 

What follows is an imagined but sadly plausible assessment of what America might look like the day after the first time a President had been removed from office through the impeachment process.

We pick up the action on this imaginary day with the roll call vote in the Senate.  The evidence that has been presented by Robert Mueller is overwhelming. Witness after witness swears on risk of perjury (and losing their plea deals!) that they personally told Donald Trump about the coordination efforts with Russian hackers. Emails are presented that document the electronic trail of corruption. The lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal demands that the Senate evict Donald Trump from office. However, throughout it all, Donald Trump has remained his same essential self: combative, denying, lying, accusing, distorting, and playing the role of victim. He has denied every single charge. Millions of his faithful supporters believe him, and believe he is being railroaded.

Before the roll call gavel crashes down, fourteen Republican Senators have already announced their intention to vote to convict. All eyes are fixed on the four Republican Senators who have refused to reveal their intention. Rand Paul is the first of the hold-outs to be called.  A keen intellect who actually lives by a set of principles, Paul concludes that the  prosecution has effectively made the case that Donald Trump is guilty of committing high crimes and misdemeanors. Grimly, and without fanfare, he votes to impeach.

Ted Cruz, however, has withheld his vote simply to ensure that all eyes are on him when he exacts his revenge. “Impeach!” he shouts out lustily, allowing himself the surging release of his bitterness from Trump’s savage insults to his wife and slander of his father. Only one more vote is needed. 

It quickly becomes clear that Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa has withheld her vote for one purpose only: to be seen on national television as the Trump loyalist who will give one, last full-throated damnation of the impeachment process as a witch hunt. Knowing that the world is watching, she decries the entire tribunal as partisan, biased, and illegitimate. She votes against conviction.

It all comes down to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who patiently milks the telegenic moment for all it is worth, pausing to soberly note the gravity of the moment and that the fate of this Presidency, and indeed the nation, rests in his hands. Citing the weight of evidence and the sanctity of the rule of law – and never once revealing the profound satisfaction at knifing the man who dared call him “little” – Rubio votes to impeach. Donald Trump is stripped of the Presidency. 

The moment is electric, triggering a shocking firestorm of reaction at both ends of the political spectrum. In New York City, the crowd on Park Avenue extends from Trump Tower all the way to Grand Central to the south and swells into Central Park to the north. An immediate patriotic and uplifting chant of “U.S.A.!” is rapidly drowned out and supplanted by bitter and unforgiving voices screaming “Lock him up!,” which carries on for nearly 45 minutes. 

The news is carried live on Fox News, which senses a defining audience moment. With raging rhetoric, Sean Hannity wastes no time in categorizing the impeachment as an illegal coup. Whipping his faithful into a frenzy, he easily convinces his weak-minded storm troopers that their vote in the 2016 election has been brutally stolen by the liberal media, the Deep State elitists, the biased FBI leadership, the Washington establishment, and the conflict-of-interest ridden Mueller investigative team. He urges their faithful out into the street, warning that they could encounter the roving militia of the leftist police state. This is why we have a Second Amendment, he notes smugly. If Obama had gotten his way, you would not have your guns to protect yourself from the leaders of the coup

Donald Trump, of course, is not placed in ball and chain. He has not been convicted of a crime. He is a free man, simply no longer President of the United States. Ever since the Special Prosecutor was appointed, Donald Trump has been preparing for this moment. He has waged a non-stop war against the motives, legitimacy, alleged biases, practices, and factual basis for the impeachment charges. He has never flinched... never admitted to any wrongdoing, consistently claiming that the allegations were “fake news,” the supporting documents and evidence was all phony, and the testimony against him was compromised because it had all been forced under pressure of criminal prosecution. 

Sean Hannity announces that he now has former President Trump on the phone. 

“Mr. President,” Hannity says, instantly revealing his own bias, “Mr. President, what do you think of this travesty?” 

“Well, Sean, it’s a disgrace. It’s a coup, that’s what it is. I bear no bad feelings towards Mike Pence, who is a good man. But he is not the legitimate President of the United States, and everybody knows that. I am sure Mike would agree with me. It’s going to be tough for him to govern when so many people believe that I am still the rightful President of the United States.”

Hannity is eating it up, with an image of ratings near Super Bowl levels. “Mr. President, what message do you have for your supporters? What should they do now?”

Trump pauses for effect. “Well, Sean, I am sure that the people know that this is a coup, and I think people who have just been the victims of a coup... well, they know what to do.”

Meanwhile, over on CNN, Anderson Cooper has scored the big interview with Mike Pence. Pence is hoping that his mournful, heavy-heart pose will thread the needle, appearing to share the outrage of the Trump die-hards while nonetheless emphatically asserting the legitimacy of his newly declared oath of office.  “Anderson, many Americans are hurting today, because they question the process that led to the impeachment of Donald Trump. It is certainly not my wish to have to step into this role under such challenging circumstances. But the Constitution that I have sworn to uphold has mandated that I serve, and I humbly ask for the support of all Americans during this difficult time.”

But it is in steamy streets of small towns in the deepest Red States that the match lit by Hannity ignites the parched, dry kindling of partisan and class rage. Word spreads through social media of a full-throated rebellion against the leftist coup. A crude web post urges Alabamans to bring their AR 15s to a rally in front of the First White House of the Confederacy at 644 Washington Avenue in Birmingham. Local police are no match for 3,000 gun-toting rednecks with more ammo than brains and even more beer than ammo. Police fire tear gas, which serves only to vindicate Hannity’s warning that the Deep State will attack. Shots ring out in Montgomery. By sunrise the following morning, gun violence has spread to dozens of cities across the American south.

Former President Trump is back on Hannity the next night. “Who can blame these patriots?” Trump blasts. “I mean, Sean, these poor people – they know what happened. They know that biased Mueller and all the crooked politicians – on many sides – have rigged the system so that they could screw the American voter. If I were out there on the streets in Montgomery tonight, I’d like to think that I’d have the guts to attack the local militias that are being called out to enforce the coup. Even if I didn’t have a weapon, I would lead the charge against the militia… it’s not legitimate, you know?”

Hannity is nearing climax. “Mister President, it sure seems to me that many of the Red States that gave you your electoral victory are looking to you tonight… looking for guidance… looking for your legitimate leadership… Mr. President, perhaps those states need a legitimate leader…”

“You know, Sean, many people are telling me that there is great interest in many parts of our country for a government that is truly in touch with the needs of the people. People in those states want a government that serves the  people… not the liberal rich elite, not the Deep State, not the Washington establishment, not Wall Street, not the biased fake news media. You know, Sean, I’ve heard that  people are asking whether it is time for… well, I think they would want to call it the United States of Trump… You know, Sean, it’s not a bad idea...”
 

You get the point.
  
An unrepentant, raging Donald Trump, found guilty by the Senate, terrified for himself and his family, would do just about anything to avoid prison.  Including fanning the flames of civil unrest.

When we lust for impeachment, let us indeed be careful what we wish for.

Let us be clear: just because we are wary about impeachment does not mean we are opposed to justice being served. 

In our view, the best outcome is far simpler, though it is wholly contingent on the  issuance of a final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that is so comprehensive and so compelling case that at least eighteen Republican Senators acknowledge that Donald Trump has been proven guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Then, Mueller, alongside key Republican leaders like McConnell, Cornyn, Grassley, Cotton, and Graham, walk into Donald Trump’s office and dictate the terms of a deal. 

If Trump puts the country through the hell of a fiercely contested impeachment process, he and his family will be open targets for any and every criminal charge and prison term that the special prosecutor and the District Attorney in New York City are prepared to throw his way.

However, if he agrees to fixed conditions, he can avoid it all. No criminal prosecution or jail time, for him, or any of his children. All he has to do is agree to the  following:

He must resign the Presidency immediately.

He must admit guilt to high crimes and misdemeanors, and testify that the charges are true. He must clearly state that the crimes he stands accused of are not lies and are not fake news. He must do so in a video statement that is to be aired on all news networks.

He, and his entire family, must agree to never appear in public again. No television. No interviews. No Fox News. No politics. Nothing. Just for the fun of it, Mueller could complete the deal by offering him $130,000 in exchange for agreeing to keep his mouth shut. 

Impeachment is our legal and constitutional solution, but it will not bridge the catastrophic divide in the perception of reality that Donald Trump has fostered. If Donald Trump’s supporters are convinced that he has been unjustly victimized, then the next Democratic President will be impeached fifteen minutes after being sworn in. The center will not hold, and the rule of law will have been bent to the rule of personal opinion. The fabric of the nation could be torn into permanent bifurcation, violent conflict, and insurrection. 

Perhaps the only thing that will stop Trump supporters from bitter alienation from the country is if they finally accept that he is a morally bankrupt, corrupt, congenital liar who has deceived them.
   
And they will only believe it if they hear it from one person: Donald Trump. 

Robert Mueller, good luck in finding the evidence you need. Then let’s all give careful thought to what happens next. Impeachment may make liberals feel good, but it may be the one thing that could make a terrible situation irretrievably broken.

Perhaps that would be the right time to sit down with Donald Trump and talk about the art of the deal.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

BTRTN: Cohen and Syria, Comey and Korea, Chaos and Hysteria

Tom with the “SaturData Review,” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week, back after a week’s hiatus.

THE WEEK

We took last Saturday off in our weekly tracking of the Trump Administration, and three giant stories emerged, along with a host of side stories that largely involve the furiously spinning Washington DC revolving door.

We mentioned several weeks ago that with the passage of the spending bill, Trump’s domestic play was pretty much over and his focus would be on the international front, where presidents traditionally have more degrees of freedom.  Trump’s rapid changeover of Pompeo for Tillerson, Bolton for McMaster and Kudlow for Cohn brought him some hawkish soulmates who would be far more likely to encourage rather than restrain his instincts in the trouble spots of the world, including North Korea, Iran, Syria and China.

Image result for image trump aloneNo sooner was the ink dry on the pink slips and the hiring papers did Trump announce, abruptly, his desire to remove the last remaining U.S. troops from Syria.  This sent his administration scrambling for alternate scenarios that would not result in a quick return of ISIS and a ceding of Syrian influence to Russia, Iran and Turkey.  While these machinations spun, reality intervened, in the form of yet another poison gas attack by Bashar al-Assad on his own people, roughly the fiftieth of such attacks.  Trump was immediately faced with clear tension between two of his instincts – the “America First” policy of which he is so proud, the bedrock of his Syr-exit proclamation, and his macho desire to bomb Assad the child-killing-gasser to smithereens.

The ability to hold two competing thoughts in one’s head simultaneously is supposed to be a sign of creativity or even genius, but in this case neither was particularly apparent.  The resulting decision to drop a few bombs for a few minutes on some Syrian assets was the epitome of cutting the baby in half.  Trump dropped just enough bombs to call it a military response, but not so many to put any Russians in harm’s way, thereby signaling to Putin that this “attack” was symbolic.  While that type of symmetry makes for a decent news cycle, the twin aftereffects were outrage from the neocons who wanted a full departure from Syria, matched by hysteria from hawks like Lindsay Graham, who want far more missiles flying and far more influence in the region.  The ultimate response was Trump’s only real alternative, but two things are abundantly clear:  1)  we have no policy in Syria at the moment, and 2)  the only message sent to Assad was confirmation that he could gas his people any old time he wants.

Having made clear to the Russians that there was no serious military play at hand, the next step, naturally, was to try to balance that with a harsh set of sanctions against them for their role as enablers.  And this is where Trumpworld really went off the rails because that, of course, touches off Trump’s third rail – his desire to avoid confrontation of any kind with Russia that can possibly be avoided.  This led to one of the shining examples of the utter shambles of Trump’s foreign policy – somehow, the very buttoned up U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley was allowed to announce that a new round of Russia sanctions were on the way, only to have the White House cut her off at the knees the next day by bluntly stating that that decision had yet to be made.  Rookie Larry Kudlow was dispatched to tell the media that Haley was “confused,” but Haley chose not to take one for the team, and witheringly (and very publicly) responded that she “does not get confused.”  Kudlow’s tail drooped between his legs and he withdrew his assessment and apologized.  The obvious truth is Trump changed his mind.

The second major story is the upcoming summit with Kim Jong-Un, specifically the apparent concession he announced yesterday that North Korea was no longer going to test its nuclear weapons.  This, coupled with a drop in North Korea’s demands that the U.S. withdraw troops from the DMZ, are being hailed as a major thawing in relations and a win for Donald Trump.  Really?  To my ears, Kim Jong-Un simply announced that North Korea has achieved full status as a nuclear power.  There was no talk of de-nuclearization or abandoning any of his current weapons.  The North Korean dictator has played his hand exceptionally well thus far, and I am not buying a “U.S. success” until we see how this unexpected strategic play unfolds.  If you want a history lesson, ask Jimmy Carter, Madelaine Allbright and Bill Clinton how their 1994 “breakthrough” in North Korea worked out.

So – we have a very green President with no expertise and zero capability for thoughtful reflection, backed by….who?  No Secretary of State (and Pompeo’s Senate approval in some doubt), a brand new National Security Advisor who has quickly fired many incumbent staff but has yet to replace them, a U.N. Ambassador who was summarily “Tillerson’ed,” and a new senior economic adviser who has already failed his first attempt to spin news for Trump – four very powerful foreign affairs voices all, in their own ways, stumbling onto centerstage in attempting to guide the President forward.

All this, of course, while there is major geopolitical movement underway of some undetermined kind in North Korea (including a rushed summit) – led covertly by Pompeo in his CIA role with no State Department involvement; China tariff wars in pay, led ostensibly by the brand-new Kudlow, who’s body language suggests he is not a fan of the tariffs at all; ongoing attempts to develop a coherent policy in Syria, where there is none; and an awkward and clearly half-hearted attempt to effect a more hawkish tone toward Russia.  So Trump is managing monumental events in Syria, Russia, China and Korea (and the Iran nuclear package as well) simultaneously, without the benefit of staff, and with no guardrails save General Mattis. We are all terrified.

One would think that these challenges would, as the Brits like to say, ”concentrate the mind.”  But Trump’s mind, of course, is a stranger to concentration, and his limited attention span appears to be far more engaged in the third major story of the past two weeks, that of the very public raid on Michael Cohen’s office and homes.  The raid was conducted by investigators from New York’s Southern District on a tip from Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Rod Rosenstein deftly allowed Mueller to hand the material over to New York City’s Southern Division and let them run with it, thereby allowing two separate investigative bodies to cover the various potential transgressions of Trumpworld.

Cohen, is, of course, Trump’s fixer, the man who knows all – Cohen does not just know where all the bodies are buried, he’s the guy that did the hits and dumped those bodies hither and yon.  And apparently he keeps pretty detailed records of hither and yon, and Trump himself is hysterical about the raid and plainly terrified of what Cohen had in those ten boxes and all those electronic devices that are now in the possession of federal prosecutors in New York.  Mueller is child’s play at this point, and Trump has his lines down pat:  there was no collusion, therefore there could be no obstruction, therefore this is a witch hunt by the Deep State.

Cohen – not so easy.  Trump does not know what he has; much of what might relate to Trump dates back to his career before he occupied the White House; some of it relates to the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels; and Cohen himself is clearly facing the prospect of a lifetime in prison and could quite easily flip Trump to minimize that and not even think once, much less twice, about it.  Trump’s current lines are pretty flimsy – somehow I don’t think whining about the demise of lawyer-client privilege carries quite the same resonance as the Deep State blues with the base.

On the comings and goings front, we say goodbye to Paul Ryan, wondering if he will re-emerge when Trump departs, be it in 2020 or 2024.  Ryan has always been the young man (still only 48) in a hurry, and the Speakership was not a stop he wanted to make on that fast track.  He took it for much the same reason Trump expelled a few Russian diplomats – he simply had to.  He was seen as the only person at the time – after his successful though losing VP run with Mitt Romney – who could satisfy both wings of the GOP, and turning it down would have been seen as cowardice.  He managed to get out after three years, and left with only one (big) stain – he never called out Trump from his leadership post with any real vigor.  That will hurt him if/when he re-enters the Oval Office stakes.

Others seemed to be on the verge of departure but, lo and behold, they continue in place, most prominently Rod Rosenstein and Scott Pruitt.  The odds were at Secretariat-at-the-Belmont-like levels that Rosenstein would be gone after the Cohen Raid, since it is not terribly clear that firing Rosenstein would cross any GOP bright lines for taking action on Trump.  (It’s not even clear firing Mueller would trigger an impeachment process.)  But Trump did not take the bait, and Rosenstein remains.

It is worth noting that Trump’s current support on the policy side – the self-inflicted void caused by the departures of Tillerson, McMaster and Cohn – is mirrored on the legal side.  He still has not replaced John Dowd per se, and is facing down both Mueller and the New York prosecutors with a very modest legal staff.   It is truly incredible how the most powerful person in the world, facing an extraordinary set of crises around the world and in the courts, is going it alone.  And the latest news that Rudy Giuliani has been exhumed to represent Trump cannot really be taken seriously; Giuliani has not practiced law for decades.  He’s there in the rather vain hope he can put some muscle on Bob Mueller, and also provide a fig leaf PR boost to counter the Trump-has-no-lawyers story line.

Then there was the return of James Comey, the Man Absolutely Everyone Despises.  Comey’s book tour basically confirmed many things we already knew – Trump is immoral, unfit for office and has no use for protocol.  Comey disdains Trump, believes he stands on the Mt. Olympus of moral rectitude, and loves the limelight.  Much as I delight in Comey’s detailed notes and his spot-on descriptions of Trump, all the lurid prose and earnest interviews really do is illustrate once again Comey’s lack of judgment.  Does he really think commenting on Trump’s hair and hands demonstrates “A Higher Loyalty”?  Comey will always be the man who, when faced with decisions of epic import, was guided by neither protocol nor policy, and instead relied solely by his own self-proclaimed righteousness.  And thus he utterly and miserably failed to make the right calls.


THE NUMBERS

Trump’s approval rating dropped a single point, back down to an abysmal 42%.  The Dems continued to hold a commanding +8 point lead (though down -1 pp since last week) on the generic ballot, enough to indicate a flip of the House in November of it holds.   The Trumpometer held steady at +14, with a rising stock market offset by a continued rise in gas prices.  The +14 means that our five economic indicators – the Dow, the unemployment rate, the price of gas, Consumer Confidence and the GDP -- are, on average, up +14% since Trump’s Inaugural in January, 2017. (The full chart and methodology explanations are at the bottom of this article.) 

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Inaug.
Jan 2018 Year 1
Last 4 Weeks
Wk ending   Mar 31
Wk ending  Apr 7
Wk ending  Apr 14
Wk ending  Apr 21
Trump Approval
48%
41%
42%
42%
43%
42%
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-14 pp
-12 pp
-12 pp
-10 pp
-12 pp
Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 6
D + 7
D + 8
D + 9
D + 8
Trumpometer
0%
+19%
+14%
+14%
+14%
+14%


POLITICAL STAT OF THE WEEK

They are dropping like flies.  With just under 200 days left until the midterms, there are more members of Congress retiring (or otherwise vacating their seats) than ever before, and the count is at 54 at this point.  And, not surprisingly, most of them are Republicans (37 versus 17 Dems) who don’t want to run in the face of a tsunami.

Incumbents, of course, are harder to displace than a fresh face, so the hype is not just hype.  Rather it becomes self-fulfilling.  Seats thought to be redder than Mars suddenly are eminently flippable – just look at Alabama or Pennsylvania’s 18th.

  
******************************************************

Here is the complete SaturData chart with accompanying methodology explanations:

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending  April 14
Wk ending  April 21
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
43%
42%
-1 pp
-6 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
53%
54%
-1 pp
-10 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-10 pp
-12 pp
-2 pp
-16 pp






Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 9
D + 8
-1 pp
+2 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+14%
+14%
0 pp
+14 pp
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
13%
Consumer Confidence
114
128
128
0%
12%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.81
2.86
-2%
-18%
Dow-Jones
19,732
24,360
24,463
0%
24%
Most recent GDP
2.1
2.9
2.9
0%
38%

Methodology notes:

BTRTN calculates our weekly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.

For the generic ballot, we take an average of the only two pollsters who conduct weekly generic ballot polls, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist, again for trending consistency.

The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017. The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.
The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP.