The liberal media suggest that President Trump is on a sinking ship and will be soon be losing the support of a large number of his followers – the group Hillary Clinton dismissively described as “a basket full of deplorables.” Don’t believe it.
The conviction Tuesday of former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort on tax and bank fraud charges – and the guilty plea that Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen entered the same day to charges of violating federal campaign finance laws, tax evasion and making a false statement to a bank – won’t shake support for Trump among the millions of Americans who voted for him and appreciate his many accomplishments in office.
Supporters of President Trump are convinced that the Justice Department has been biased against him. They believe Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election is politically motivated. They know that the Clinton campaign funded a “dirty tricks” dossier that led to a court warrant allowing surveillance of Trump associates. They know that numerous people working for Mueller had ties to Hillary Clinton and opposed Trump’s election. For this and other reasons, much of the country no longer supports the special counsel and his work.
Trump supporters think an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s actions was inadequate and tainted. The FBI conducted a far too limited investigation of Clinton’s use of her own private computer server to handle her email communications – including classified emails – when she was secretary of state. Clinton then lied about what seems to be a clear security breach. Her aides were granted immunity in the investigation for no apparent purpose, and her interview with the FBI was not recorded in any fashion. On top of that, Attorney General Loretta Lynch met secretly with former President Bill Clinton during the probe of his wife. This all seems highly suspect.
Many Trump supporters believe writer Peter Schweizer disclosed wrongdoing by the Clintons and their foundation. Schweizer is the author of the book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Business Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.” The book documents numerous instances of apparent pay-to-play involving questionable donations to the Clinton Foundation and exorbitant speaking fees paid to former President Bill Clinton by organizations that had received favors from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump fans wonder why the investigations into those activities were sidelined by the FBI.
The Mueller probe has yet to disclose any evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Democrats are giddy that White House Counsel Don McGahn spoke openly with Mueller’s team, assuming he may have revealed damaging information about President Trump. Trump voters consider the openness indicative of innocence on the part of the president, who approved the conversations. The White House has operated under a cloud of suspicion for well over a year, beset by allegations that are as yet unfounded. Millions of Americans believe, as the president has said, that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt; two-thirds of the country thinks it should be brought to a close.
The media coverage of the Trump presidency has been almost laughably biased. The persistent focus on “Russia, Russia, Russia” is meant, supporters think, to distract from the accelerating economy and other achievements of the Trump White House.
Trump backers knew they were not voting for a choir boy. If they harbored any such notions, the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape shortly before the 2016 presidential election put those to rest. People do not condone Trump’s language on the tape and his alleged behavior with women, but they do not think it criminal or disqualifying. If Trump follows through on campaign promises, and the country is better off under his guidance, they are willing to look the other way.
Paying a woman to keep mum about an alleged sexual relationship is understandable. Two women received payments from Trump after they claimed to have had consensual sex with him – although he denies their claims. Either way, reaching a financial settlement with the women to not publicly air their charges appears to be a reasonable action by a wealthy married man, much less someone running for office. To many, the payments to the two women do not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that would justify impeachment of the president and his removal from office.
All these are some of the reasons that many Trump voters will cite for their continued support of the president.
Most Americans are too busy to follow every twist and turn of the Mueller investigation, the melodrama around fired FBI Director James Comey, the lying and leaking of fired No. 2 FBI official Andrew McCabe, the disgraceful saga of Trump-hating lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page at the FBI, or the myriad other rivulets feeding into the torrent of partisan bitterness infecting our politics.
But Trump supporters have a sense that Justice Department holdovers from the Obama years – and indeed officials high up in that administration – were furious at Trump’s election and have worked to undermine his administration from Day One.
More importantly, people who voted for Trump are happy with the way our country is going. In recent months, according to Gallup, the percentage of Americans “satisfied” with the direction of the country was higher than at any time since 2005.
People are optimistic, they are upbeat about their finances, they are enjoying wage hikes, and their ability to quit and find a better job. As their incomes rise, they are spending more (retail sales in July were up over 6 percent) and going out to eat more often. Spending at restaurants was ahead nearly 10 percent in July.
People are feeling flush, and are giving President Trump credit for producing a humdinger of an economy.
Democrats are dumbfounded by the very high approval ratings Trump earns from Republicans. In Gallup’s latest weekly tally, 87 percent of the Republicans said they approve of the president’s job performance, compared to only 7 percent of Democrats. It’s an unbridgeable gulf, and thanks in part to the intemperance of the liberal media it is likely to stay that way.
Come November, we will get a better reading of how President Trump’s legal problems sort out politically. There may well be further developments stemming from Paul Manafort’s second trial, scheduled for next month, or more revelations from Michael Cohen, whose lawyer has hinted he may have information that could damage the president.
With or without more bad news, President Trump’s fate will be determined by the steadfastness of his supporters – and on whether Democrats overplay their hand. Midterm elections are decided by turnout; impeachment talk will drive Trump’s deplorables to the polls. As of today, they still have his back.