By John LeBoutillier, opinion contributor — 01/01/20 02:30 PM EST The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 14,327
The new year will have two main storylines: the impeachment trial and the November election. Looking at these chronologically, here are some predictions on how both could turn out:
- The Senate impeachment trial — which two weeks ago seemed to be a slam-dunk whitewash for Donald Trump engineered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — now is the year’s biggest wild card. No one knows where this thing is headed.
- Do you recall in the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant on a remote Mediterranean Island? At first, all they found in it seemed to be some harmless, ancient sand. But then odd things began happening: Electrical machines stopped working; spirits appeared and turned from “beautiful” to deadly. Soon, every bad guy was dead and only Indiana Jones and his partner survived.
- This impeachment trial will be similar: All sorts of political spirits will be unleashed. Already, three GOP senators are (slightly) breaking away — Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are questioning the McConnell-led process, and now James Lankford (R-Okla.) has dared to criticize Trump’s character. Neither of these events would have happened before the House impeached Trump.
- The daily tracking polls are moving — albeit slightly — against Trump. In the MSN daily tracking poll, those who favor the president’s removal from office have grown since the Dec. 18 impeachment, to 55 percent; those opposed have fallen, to 40 percent.
- If there are compelling witnesses at the Senate trial, the polls might move toward 60 percent for removal. Then, all bets are off.
- The New York Times was given a tip that, in August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-national security adviser John Bolton met privately with Trump, urging him to release military aid to Ukraine; he reportedly refused. This was deliberately leaked to the Times for a reason, from someone on the inside.
- There will be more damaging leaks from inside the administration as the trial approaches. This reflects that almost everyone inside the administration knew the Ukraine scheme was disastrous, legally and politically, but Trump forced them to do it and then to cover it up.
- Ever since the publication of the whistleblower’s complaint, Trump and his immediate staff have scrambled to keep a lid on things. But the looming trial is the lifting of the lid from the administration’s “ark.” The spirits are emerging — and we have no way of knowing where they are going or who they will consume.
- Yes, there will be at least 51 votes for witnesses in the Senate trial. Bolton, Mulvaney, presidential assistant Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey will be called to testify.
- Trump will go ballistic. He knows their truthful testimony will expose him; he will do everything in his power to stop them from testifying.
- Several endangered and retiring GOP senators will question why Trump is trying to stop the four from testifying. GOP unity in the Senate will not hold, and nasty recriminations will appear before January is over.
- Trump will try to have the whistleblower called as a witness — not that it will happen — because he is terrified of other whistleblowers coming forward. He is trying to intimidate them into remaining silent. This will fail.
- There will be another blockbuster whistleblower — on an entirely different scandal — whose information will be made public just as the Senate trial is underway. This will rock the political world.
- While the odds remain overwhelming that Trump is not removed in the Senate, there now is a 10 percent chance that he will be — and that percentage will grow as new revelations emerge. Remember, public opinion is the key here; if the “remove” numbers continue to grow, then anything is possible.
- The least that happens politically is that this impeachment process further damages Trump and makes his reelection less likely.
- Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden will have a very good February; Democratic voters — after sampling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — will return to Biden because of the one thing they care most about: defeating Trump in November. Biden is consistently ahead in the polls versus Trump — and Trump is spooked by Biden, which is why he orchestrated his Ukraine squeeze play and got impeached for it.
- Biden is the perfect anti-Trump candidate: decent, experienced, honest, kind. His contrast to Trump is clear as day. He will indeed be the Democrats’ nominee.
- The very first phone call Biden makes to ask someone to be his running mate will be to Michelle Obama. Michelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama 2020 predictions: Trump will lose — if not in the Senate, then with the voters. Obama reveals list of his favorite songs from 2019Michelle Obama is ‘most admired woman’ in new poll MORE. He knows a Biden-Obama ticket would be unbeatable — but, alas, Mrs. Obama has no interest in holding elective office.
- She and her husband will, however, campaign tirelessly for the eventual Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket; they will go to cities and suburbs and significantly increase Democratic turnout.
- The general election will see the highest voter turnout — in excess of 60 percent — since the last time we had such a bitterly divided nation, in 1968.
- Trump will lose massively in the popular vote and narrowly in the Electoral College.
- Why? Because, for three years, he’s made absolutely no effort to reach out to other voters; instead, he’s insulted anyone who dared to disagree with him.
- He either forgot or never understood that politics is the art of addition, not subtraction.
- Yes, he has a fiercely loyal base that he can count on — but there are not enough of those voters to win in an election where all the anti-Trump voters (women, young people, minorities) will make certain this time to vote instead of staying home as they did in 2016.
- He has presided over a decent economy, yet his approval numbers are anemic. Why? Because America is filled with decent people who abhor his indecent behavior and, frankly, don’t understand it.
- Not only will he lose on Nov. 3, but the GOP will lose the Senate, too. Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Maine will go to the Democrats. Alabama will reelect former Republican Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions 2020 predictions: Trump will lose — if not in the Senate, then with the voters. The biggest political upsets of the decadeMcCabe accuses Trump officials of withholding evidence in lawsuit over firingMORE. The result: A 50-50 Senate, with the newly elected Democratic vice president breaking any tie.
- Thus, the Trump era will end — and be seen in history as a four-year aberration that began with a fluke election in 2016 that the American voter then systematically corrected in 2018 and 2020.
John LeBoutillier, a former Republican congressman from New York, co-hosts “Revolution — The Podcast,” available on Soundcloud and iTunes.