The bitter fight contest over the U.S. midterm polls has ended with the Democratic Party regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Republican Party cementing their hold in the U.S. Senate.
The result can be seen as a concrete victory for the Trump administration because by retaining Republican control of the Senate, the allies of U.S. President Donald Trump can easily confirm Trump’s picks for Cabinet secretaries, ambassadorships, and most importantly, judges in the Federal courts and the justices for the Supreme Court.
TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY SECURED
The victory of Trump’s allies in the Senate also means that any attempt by the Democrats to impeach Trump will be an exercise in futility.
Though the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives can now initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, it will be the Republicans in the Senate who will decide whether or not to approve the House’s action.
Poll results showed Democrats gained 28 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for a total of 223 seats while the Republicans retained 197 seats.
In the U.S. Senate, the polls showed the Republicans firmly in control by gaining two additional seats to up their total seats to 51 while the seats held by the Democrats fell to 46%.
However secure Trump may be in his hold of the U.S. presidency, the Democrats’ control over the House of Representatives means his tenure in office would not be an easy one.
SECURE BUT NOT EASY
According to reports, several of his critics in the House have vowed to use their newly gained subpoena power to compel Trump to release his hidden tax returns.
Controversy has surrounded this issue ever since Trump broke convention and refused to release his tax returns when he ran for the presidency.
Previous Presidents have released their tax returns as a political statement to show “they have nothing to hide.”
Another issue that may prove embarrassing to Trump in the House of Representatives would be his refusal to divest from his various businesses.
Previous U.S. Presidents have divested from their businesses or financial holdings in order to prevent possible conflict of interest issues to arise during the course of their presidency.
With Trump’s refusal to divest, his political detractors in the House can make life difficult for him because they now have the power of legislative oversight in the House.
In response to this potential threat, Trump countered that if Democratic congressmen initiate such action against him, he promised to have his allies in the Senate to conduct legislative investigations against his political foes.
The worst-case scenario in this political tit-for-tat could lead to legislative paralysis in the U.S. Congress in the remaining two years of Trump’s term.
Still, Trump did offer a conciliatory overture of sorts when he mentioned that he will “work across party lines” to get important legislative measures passed. However, this conciliatory overture can be seen as hollow because of Trump’s threat to have his political foes investigated.
JUSTICE: THE TRUMP WAY
And the chances of Trump actually ordering law enforcement agencies of the U.S. federal government to take action against his political opponents have actually risen after the U.S. midterm polls.
Immediately after the midterm results, Trump fired his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Sessions tendered his resignation upon Trump’s orders.
Sessions, who had previously resisted Trump’s desire to use federal agencies to go after his political foes, was replaced by a Trump partisan, Matthew Whitaker.
During the first two years of his presidency, Trump has repeatedly expressed disappointment with Sessions. Trump wanted Sessions to “protect” him as Attorney General.
Part of that protection would be to initiate action against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival during the 2016 U.S. presidential polls, and former U.S. president Barrack Obama, whom Trump falsely accused of illegal wiretapping.
Sessions’ refusal irritated Trump. But what got Trump’s goat was Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the federal investigation on the allegations that members of the Trump campaign team colluded with the Russian government during the U.S. elections.
Trump wanted Sessions to stop the investigation but the recusal allowed the investigation to continue.
This led to the filing of federal charges against several of Trump’s allies during the campaign and a statement from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies confirming that the Russian government did meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Trump’s advisers convinced him to delay firing Sessions because this could lead to political fallout that could damage the Republican effort to retain control of the U.S. Senate.
With the U.S. Senate firmly in Republican controls, Trump was finally free to get rid of Sessions.
WIDE OPEN FOR TRUMP
And with Trump’s allies in control of the Senate, Trump’s replacement for Sessions, namely Whitaker, would be a shoo in for Senate confirmation.
With the U.S. Senate’s support, Whitaker, who’s the new attorney general, could easily stop any federal investigation on Trump’s allies during the campaign and end the thorny issue conclusively in Trump’s favor.
The Democrats in the House may criticize this potential action but all they can really do would amount to nothing more than hot air. Why? Because if the Democrats in the House take the extreme action against Trump by using their power to approve or disapprove the federal budget, this could backfire on the Democrats in the 2020 polls.
BRINKMANSHIP FOR DEMOCRATS
Holding the federal budget against Trump could be seen as extreme legislative obstructionism because this could potentially have an adverse effect on the delivery of basic federal government services, financial assistance to state governments and implementation of federal aid programs that U.S. citizens rely on.
Such a legislative action in the House could lead to political repercussions for the Democrats since the Republican Party hold more state governorships than the Democrats. Based on the latest results of the U.S. midterm polls, the Democrats won an additional seven state governor posts bringing the number to 23 while the Republicans still hold 26 state governorships after losing six state gubernatorial contests.
This support for Trump from state governors would be crucial for his administration’s immigration policy, especially along the states that border Mexico.
Trump had maintained a policy of zero-tolerance for foreigners branded as illegal immigrants, even those who are fleeing from political prosecution in their home countries.
With the Justice Department firmly in the hands of Whitaker, who’s an avowed Trump loyalist, Trump’s announced intention to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship crosses the threshold from mere political rhetoric to just within the realm of plausibility.
Since the early days of his presidency, Trump has the tendency to shoot from the hip, issuing executive orders that when implemented, led to chaos. An example would be his haphazard executive order banning nationals from certain predominantly Muslim states from entering the United States. This led to confusion because the order did not initially distinguish those already holding valid U.S. visas and those without.
BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP AND TNT’s
The issue of birthright citizenship could be a major concern for the Filipino-American community in the United States because a number of those were pardoned “TNT’s” or “Tago-ng-Tago”. This was a term for those Filipinos who illegally immigrated to the U.S. Many of them later legalized their stay in the U.S. and obtained a valid pathway to U.S. citizenship.
However, when the Trump’s administration’s policy of zero-tolerance for illegal immigrants is paired with Trump’s intention to end birthright citizenship, this could result in the removal of U.S. citizenships for the offspring of those who were originally illegal immigrants.
It is true that a majority of legal experts in the U.S. have stated that Trump cannot amend a provision in the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing birthright citizenship with a mere executive order. It is an unconstitutional move, the experts said.
But when one considers that Trump now controls who gets to become a federal judge or Supreme Court justice, the chances of the U.S. judicial system ruling in favor of Trump’s executive order rises from sheer impossible to just within the realm of plausibility.
There are those that say that what I just wrote verges on the side of the extremely negative. I agree with them. And I certainly hope that I am eventually proven to be dead wrong. Because if that can happen in the U.S. where the supposed norm is “no one is above law”, what hope can there be in other countries who were fashioned in the U.S. image? G