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Can President Trump Steer Toward Policy, Away From Scandal?

One of the major problems conservatives had with candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign was his lack of public policy experience. But this lack is exactly what drew millions of voters to support him–he wasn’t a swamp creature. People wanted an outsider to shake up the system, and indeed President Trump has done just that. But the American people are finding this isn’t the shakeup they prefer.

President Trump is now at a crossroads: will he find a healthy middle ground, one where he seizes control of the troubling narrative the mainstream press and his liberal critics are carving out, steering the ship back toward an innovative, policy-focused agenda? Or will he continue to let innuendo and backstabbing swirl around the White House indefinitely, clouding Republicans’ legislative agenda and squandering their November mandate? Will he straightforwardly address legitimate questions about Russian involvement in the 2016 election and his subsequent handling of classified information?

On Capitol Hill potential Russia hacking hearings and widening investigations are sucking away time and energy from GOP plans to reform our health care system and tax code. The latest journalistic bombshell to hit the White House came last night with reports that fired FBI Director James Comey kept memos documenting each of his conversations with President Trump and that the president, in at least one encounter, asked Comey to drop his investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The White House has firmly denied this report.

This latest revelation is on top of the question of Trump reportedly sharing classified information with the Russians, something that Sen. John McCain called “deeply disturbing.” This has led many in the chattering media class, and some members of Congress, even a few Republicans, to start rumbling about the prospect of impeachment. But despite the media circus, these latest flareups, impeachment is unlikely as long as Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives. What President Trump has done, or allegedly done so far–barring some future smoking gun–is on par with previous administrations, including Barack Obama’s (Kyle Drennen outlines some of them well here). 

And even if the Democrats gained control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, the Senate would still need to convict the president by at least a two-thirds majority–an unlikely scenario under current revelations. Thus, the real focus for voters should not be on whether the president will survive, but whether his agenda survive.

The Wall Street Journal‘s oped board summed up President Trump’s tenuous policy situation in an editorial titled “Loose Lips Sink Presidencies”:

Mr. Trump needs to appreciate how close he is to losing the Republicans he needs to pass the agenda that will determine if he is successful. Weeks of pointless melodrama and undisciplined comments have depleted public and Capitol Hill attention from health care and tax reform, and exhaustion is setting in. America holds elections every two years, and Mr. Trump’s policy allies in Congress will drift away if he looks like a liability.

“Millions of Americans recognized Mr. Trump’s flaws but decided he was a risk worth taking. They assumed, or at least hoped, that he’d rise to the occasion and the demands of the job. If he cannot, he’ll betray their hopes as his Presidency sinks before his eyes.”

 

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