(Note: this is my 1500th blog posting here at You Might Notice a Trend. Just saying. Been a long strange and on occasion horrifying trip with miles to go)
As the post-midterms shakeup here in the U.S. works out the recounts and backroom backstabbing, there are a few clear signs of how dark a winter we're about to endure.
Above all, trump is facing a well-situated Democratic-controlled House in Congress. Dems are currently looking at a 36 seat advantage over Republicans at 229 (expecting 237) and a clear amount of room to pass majority votes (needing 219 seats).
The immediate real-world implication here is that the House under Democratic control can perform the oversight into trump's political and financial abuses that's been needed since Day One. Under rules set in 1924 for example, the chair of the House Ways and Means committee can request access to trump's tax returns (there would, of course, have to be a reason that can stand up in court). The House will have reasons to make such requests: Best example will be the serious allegations into trump's violations of the Emoluments Clause. The House Oversight and Reform Committee (yes, they have one) will certainly be looking into the amount of money trump has been getting from his DC hotel and other properties from foreign powers, which would require looking at his previous years' income statements to compare and contrast.
The threat of looking at trump's tax records are two-fold: One, they can provide evidence of questionable business practices such as money laundering; Two, they can reveal the fallacy of trump's bragging over his personal wealth (he keeps talking like he's a billionaire but his tax returns may reveal much of that is tied up into loans and debt). The second one would be the hardest on trump because it will be a huge hit to his twisted ego.
Just on exposing trump's tax returns alone, Democrats will strike a severe blow at trump-World's bubble.
If there is any comfort (grrrr, never) for trump, it's that impeachment is an unlikely event this coming congressional cycle. Democrats may see the merits of trying to remove a dangerous figure from the White House, but actual removal is still up to a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the current Republican majority there prevents that no matter what.
What the Democratic House can and will do is expose trump's greater sins: the horrific immigration policy decisions, pushing back against trump's insane tariff EOs, critiquing trump's foreign policy miscues on Korea and the Middle East, trump's continued use of violent rhetoric stirring up white supremacist and antisemitic forces. Some of these fights can sustain Democratic outrage into the 2020 Presidential elections and keep independent voters away from backing trump that November.
Also at stake is the ongoing Mueller investigation: trump can try to get the DoJ to shut it down but the House Democrats can intervene - through funding issues, and through their own oversight investigations - to keep Mueller going. trump may be able to interfere but it won't do much now.
And the reports post-election suggest it may be too late. Per tradition, Mueller put a cap on issuing indictments or other public actions during the two months before the November 2018 general vote - something Comey failed to do in 2016, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr - in order to avoid affecting that vote. With the election done, Mueller can issue the indictments he's apparently been sitting on (via John Schindler at the Observer):
To abide by Justice Department rules, Mueller went silent for almost two months before the midterms, to avoid any appearance of election interference, but the Special Counsel’s office is now renewing the public side of their investigation. Team Mueller is reported to be working on the final draft of their report on the president and his Russian ties in 2016. Whatever that report says, it’s not likely to be flattering to Team Trump.
Worse for the White House, Mueller’s prosecutors are widely believed to be closing in on two people close to the president, Roger Stone and Donald Trump, Jr. Stone, the self-proclaimed Republican “ratf*cker,” has spoken openly of his fears of impending indictment over his links to WikiLeaks in 2016. Don Jr. is reported to be concerned as well, since he appears to have lied to Federal investigators about the fateful June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian intelligence officials.
That June 9th meeting is key: it's physical evidence of Russian interaction with an American political campaign, something that is in violation of serious laws. Nearly every person who is linked to that moment is likely facing indictment (if they haven't flipped already).
When Mueller informs the public of more indictments is an open question. That they are coming, however, is not. And there are lots of them. The Special Counsel has been at work for almost 18 months now. An Intelligence Community official who assisted the Special Counsel’s investigation told me this week that Team Mueller is holding “dozens of sealed indictments” of people associated with the president, his 2015-16 campaign, and his administration. “Nobody who’s close to the Russians is getting out of this,” said the IC official...
What will happen - outside of trump trying to use his pardon powers in a last-ditch effort to avoid criminal charges on himself - leaves trump facing a dire situation in his political stance. Above all, facing the likelihood he will lose his own family members getting indicted.
trump operates in a bubble, his own comfort zone where the most trusted allies are his own flesh-and-blood (and in-laws). A Bad Boss to everyone else, trump prefers handlers he knows HAS to rely on his own criminal misdeeds to thrive. His children have no other identity outside of being HIS kids: Ivanka in particular - whose unprofitable patents just got approved by a China we're supposed to be in tariff wars against - would have been kicked out of any other West Wing given the fights she's had with other staffers.
Look at how donnie junior was involved in trump's 2016 campaign to begin with. Nearly every other figure between trump and Russia - the ones he trusted most, like Stone and Manafort - will likely be unavailable to help him run ANYTHING once the Mueller hammer comes down.
How do you think trump can operate without trusted people?
This a guy whose management style is conflict: getting people to vie for his attention and favor regardless how it disrupts the jobs that need to get done. trump is going to have to rely more and more on self-serving backstabbers - hi, Bolton! - with fewer and fewer competent people willing to put up with trump's bullshit.
In the short-term, we're likely to see - we're starting to see it now with reports of Chief of Staff Kelly and Homeland Secretary Neilsen on the outs - a massive wave of Cabinet firings and resignations and intense instability of our government's administration.
In the long-term, we're likely to see - and trump's ongoing war against immigrants and Black voters is evidence of it - a political re-election campaign (and an imploding Republican Party) devolve into outright racism and domestic terrorism to bully its way to another illegal victory.
As the Starks kept warning us, Winter was coming. And now a trumpian winter is here, threatening to last well into 2020.
Gods help us.