Trump racks up wins, even as impeachment grips Washington

David M. Drucker,
President Donald J. Trump enjoyed an extraordinary period of policy successes over the past two weeks, even as Democrats seeking to remove him from office moved articles of impeachment through the House.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats damaged Trump politically, the two negotiated an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing the president to tout a previously elusive trade deal after three years of promising he would complete it. And he and House Democrats compromised on $1.4 trillion in spending that funds critical aspects of Trump’s immigration agenda and delivers on his vision for the Space Force, the first new U.S. military service branch in more than 70 years.

The House voted along party lines to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, an action the president had lamented would amount to a black mark on his legacy. A trial in the Senate, presumably in January, awaits. “But it hasn’t stopped him from having two of the best weeks of his presidency,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters.

Former congressman Jason Altmire, a Democrat from western Pennsylvania who now lives near Jacksonville, Florida, said the spate of deal-making that coincided with impeachment was advantageous to both Trump and congressional Democrats. In part to convince voters that impeachment was unwarranted, Trump needed legislative accomplishments. Democrats, especially in swing districts, needed to show constituents that impeaching Trump was not their only priority.

“To the degree they don’t get along on anything, this was mutually beneficial,” Altmire told the Washington Examiner. “Both were able to show that they are continuing to do the American people’s business.”

But Trump may have gotten more out of the deal-making, securing a host of key priorities that could boost his 2020 reelection bid.

The president obtained regular funding for construction of a wall along the Mexican border; won the elimination of unpopular Obamacare taxes, such as one on medical devices; and signed legislation to provide permanent federal funding for historically black colleges and universities.

Trump might yet pay a political price for impeachment. Many Democrats argue the affair will take a toll on the president and his Republican defenders. “The American people will not forget,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. “They will make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

But so far, the process has not damaged Trump’s political standing.

On Monday, his approval rating in the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls was 44.5%, the upper end of his usual range. It is as though the nation reacted to Trump’s impeachment with a collective shoulder shrug, a reaction some attribute to a country grown numb to Trump scandals. Others believe the charges are not serious enough to warrant removal from office. What’s more, there is virtually no chance the Senate musters the 67 votes required to expel Trump from office.

“It was all predetermined, truly kabuki theater with no consequence to any American’s life,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant in California who opposes Trump. “The more remarkable postscript … was that the president was impeached, the Senate will surely acquit, and the S&P 500 is at an all-time high. We are a government in chaos, and things are going just fine.”

Dave Carney, a Republican strategist in New Hampshire who backs Trump, said that independents, a critical voting bloc, were particularly unmoved by impeachment. The drama might have been consequential to partisans on the Right and Left, he said, “but to the people in the middle, the truly persuadable voters, it’s just noise.” Trump Wins! #KAG #Trump2020