Talk Media News staff’s predictions for 2019

Published
President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence (WhiteHouse.gov)

WASHINGTON — Happy New Year! Every New Year’s Day, the staff of TMN makes our predictions for the coming year. As we bid good bye to a very tumultuous year in the nation’s capital, we look ahead to what could transpire in 2019.

National News Correspondent Jon Christopher Bua

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III will deliver his report to Congress as soon as the Democrats are sworn in.

In the new year, the president will make a deal to resign when he learns that members of his family will be indicted in the special counsel’s Russia probe.

Vice President Mike Pence’s involvement with Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election will begin to be exposed to the American People.

The U.S. economy will slow down dramatically as the effects of the tariffs, the trade wars and the constant political uncertainty of the Trump administration finally take their toll.

Multimedia Journalist Doug Christian

During the investigation into the 1972 break-in into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate Complex, the guiding mantra for investigators was “follow the money.” Today, sleuths’ refrain might rather be “follow the money laundering.”

President Donald Trump, like Icarus, may have found himself flying too close to the sun — in this case, too close to the center of power — after winning the 2016 presidential election. Prior, he had merely been an ethically challenged huckster whom officials had seen as perhaps bending tax and money-laundering laws. But weirdly, his alleged illegality was too much distress to bother with the trouble.

Now as president, his alleged illegality is too much trouble to ignore.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly called the investigation by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III a witch hunt. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

The probe, led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible conspiracy with the Russians by the Trump campaign, may be troublesome for Trump, but it isn’t dire. Most likely, Trump didn’t collude with the Russians. He can’t collude with anybody — even his wife!

But the investigation by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) into Trump’s alleged money laundering, tax schemes, and other nefarious activities will pose an existential risk to his presidency. My prediction is that the SDNY will (or already has) approach Trump with an offer he would be hubristic to refuse: Resign the presidency and the feds will not prosecute you or your children for prior illegal activities.

Former Vice President Spiro Agnew was presented with the same deal 40 years earlier. Agnew took the feds’ offer. President Trump will not, and it will be messy. Trump will wag the dog.

Contributing Editor Karen DeWitt

The economy continues to decline, growing at less than 1 percent in 2019.

Congress is stalemated between Senate Republicans and House Democrats — nothing gets done.

Global warming heats up.

A Russian underpinning of Trump’s fortune is exposed but he holds on.

Deputy D.C. Bureau Chief Justin Duckham

After gradually becoming more and more rare, the once “daily” White House press briefing will disappear entirely in 2019. No one will really miss it.

With so many people leaving the administration, the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed will go public to again make their case.

The confirmation hearings for the soon-to-be vacant spots in the Trump administration will become an absolute circus, with Republicans joining in on the act, especially since it will give them an opportunity to hammer the administration on foreign policy.

Michael Flynn will eventually be sentenced to a very short prison in March, but Trump will nevertheless step in and deliver his first pardon in the Mueller saga.

Managing Editor Regina Holmes

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign concludes by the end of February; Donald Trump and his eldest son will be implicated. The angry president will decide to resign to avoid being impeached, and he will leave office still tweeting, “No collusion!” He will go back to New York but his wife, Melania, and youngest son, Barron, will remain in Washington. The disgraced former president will quickly file for divorce then start trashing his estranged wife on Twitter.

President Donald Trump, shown with his son Donald Trump Jr. on Jan. 11, 2017 at Trump Tower in New York, says he had no knowledge of his son meeting with a Russian lawyer in 2016 until "the last couple of days," the White House said July 10, 2017. (Luke Vargas/TMN)
President Donald Trump, shown with Donald Trump Jr., said on July 10, 2017 that he had no knowledge of his son meeting with a Russian lawyer in 2016 until “the last couple of days.”(Luke Vargas/TMN)

Donald Trump Jr. will be offered a plea deal that he will take but he won’t be able to dodge a short stint in federal prison. Once he is behind bars, his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, dumps him. He tries to reunite with his estranged wife, Vanessa, the mother of his five children, but she rebuffs him.

As soon as the outcome of Mueller’s probe is announced, a rattled Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump quickly leave town and go under the radar indefinitely. But before the year is over she will announce on social media that she has given birth to the couple’s fourth child.

 

Executive Editor/CEO Tim Maier

President Donald Trump will announce he is not seeking re-election, claiming that in four years he accomplished all of his campaign promises and boasting he has done more in four years than any other president.

Vice President Mike Pence will announce he is running for president.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be winning in the majority of the polls and supporters will urge him to select Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke as his vice presidential candidate.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will announce a tour together, and Simon and Garfunkel will reunite for a final tour. Both will be tours to promote charities involved in global warming.

Political Analyst Bob Ney

I predict beheadings for four of the “rogue gang” that carried out the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Crown Prince MBS will be “gracefully” put to the back burner by Saudi Arabia’s royal family and a new heir emerges for the throne.

A top leader in Iraq is forced out of the government and unrest begins.

In Syria, President Bashar Assad will firmly hold power but he will reconcile with opposition forces. Iran stays with Russian there, Saudi Arabia backs out of meddling in Syria and makes a surprising outreach to the west on economic rebuilding and ventures.

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III finishes his report by June and two more indictments are released. President Donald Trump is trashed in the report but there will be no indictment.

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi will not move forward on impeachment.

President Trump’s adult children and son-in law, Jared Kushner, are formally subpoenaed by New York State, which launches a full-scale investigation into the Trump business empire.

A Supreme Court nomination opens up.

National Columnist Michael Olesker

Donald Trump will not finish the year in office.

Nor will he be impeached. Facing a barrage of charges from a multiplicity of prosecutorial offices, he will cut a deal to save himself and his children and vacate the presidency.

The U.S. will face military setbacks in the South China Sea and Russian border regions. NATO will blink.

Turkey will both promise and threaten and take as much of northern Syria as it wishes.  It will kill Kurds under the guise of fighting ISIS, which will regain its strength in the desert areas of eastern Syria as Assad is too incompetent to fight and Russia has no interest in helping Damascus.

The Yemen ceasefire will not hold.

Destroyed morale in the Pentagon and counter-terrorist operations put the U.S. at risk, while President Trump picks fights with Venezuela and Iran.

Doctors will determine that Donald Trump’s bizarre tweets are related to both physical and mental health issues that prevent him from carrying out his duties as president of the United States. The 25th Amendment will be invoked and Mike Pence will become president.

Capitol Hill Editor Bryan Renbaum

Judge Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to become an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)
Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears at his initial confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4 to become an associate justice of the Supreme Court.(Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN)

House Democrats will ask President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. Trump will refuse. The committees of jurisdiction will issue subpoenas. The White House will fight the subpoenas. This will result in litigation that lasts months or even years. At some point, the case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh will cast the decisive vote upholding the president’s right not to release his tax returns.

House Democrats will entertain discussion of impeachment to satisfy their base but no action will be taken. Discussion of impeachment may be used for fundraising purposes heading into 2020. Keeping the idea of impeachment alive may prove useful for Democrats on many different levels.

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III will release his report on the investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The report will stipulate that no definitive evidence of collusion was found. However, evidence of wrongdoing in matters that fall outside the scope of the special counsel’s charter may be found. If so, pursuant to the charter, that evidence will be referred to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Pentagon Correspondent Tom Squitieri

The U.S. will face military setbacks in the South China Sea and Russian border regions. NATO will blink.

Turkey will both promise and threaten to take as much of northern Syria as it wishes. Turkey will kill Kurds under the guise of fighting ISIS, which will regain its strength in the desert areas of eastern Syria as Syrian President Bashar Assad is too incompetent to fight and Russia has no interest in helping Damascus.

The Yemen ceasefire will not hold.

Destroyed morale in the Pentagon and counter-terrorist operations put the U.S. at risk, while President Trump picks fights with Venezuela and Iran.

Chief Foreign Correspondent Luke Vargas

I’ll be closely watching dynamics in Central America as 2019 gets underway, and I’m hopeful that the “Northern Triangle” nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — major drivers of migration to the U.S. — can meaningfully start to address rule-of-law issues and chip away at endemic corruption. Guatemala will choose a new president in June and must choose a leader brave enough to accept the findings of a vital U.N. anti-corruption investigation shut down by current President Jimmy Morales. A major court case in El Salvador offers a rare opportunity for the country to deliver long-overdue justice for government massacre in the 1980’s and demonstrate that no one is above the law. Meanwhile, Honduras must build on a successful anti-violence campaign that’s seen homicide rates slashed in half by making similar strides in kick starting its economy. Only with in a bid to keep its citizens in the country.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

I also predict the “honeymoon” between Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), and President Trump will end sooner rather than later. 2018 ended with the two countries agreeing to an immigration deal that will see those seeking asylum in the U.S. remain in Mexico as their paperwork is processed. Mexico gets $10 billion in aid in return, but this policy risks turning wide swaths of the Mexican side of the border into refugee camps, and as conditions worsen, Mexican public opinion will turn against AMLO’s decision to break bread with Trump. If he’s wise, AMLO will channel U.S. aid toward economic investment to impoverished districts in southern Mexico where he’s previously signaled migrant labor from Central American countries could provide the backbone of the new workforce. By choosing that path, AMLO can deliver economic development while protecting the rights of migrants, and perhaps, lower immigration tensions with the U.S. as a result.

Finally in Europe, a Brexit delay looks increasingly likely, even if British lawmakers agree on a “divorce bill” to leave the bloc by March. It’s shaping up to be a pivotal year for the E.U. too, as citizens from 27 countries choose their representatives to the European Parliament. Watch to see if the European People’s Party (Angela Merkel is a member) expels Fidesz, Hungary’s right-wing populists aligned with authoritarian Viktor Orbán. That decision, in addition to the election results, will help signal whether European populism has reached a high-water mark or continues to grow, a development that could call into question the E.U.’s very future and see further setbacks to the E.U.’s liberal democratic goals.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the populist ebb occurring in 2019, and the coming year may well see populists seize greater power in Europe and even in Canada.

Supreme Court Correspondent Geoff West

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will disappoint conservatives by casting a deciding swing vote in at least one major case.

The fight for Trump’s tax returns will reach the Supreme Court. With control of House committees, Democrats will file a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns. The Justice Department will try to block it and succeed with the help of a conservative majority on the bench.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will outraise sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Vice President Joe Biden in her bid to win the Democratic nomination for president. Polls will show Warren as the presumptive favorite heading into the 2020 primaries.

 

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