Former President George W. Bush's adviser, Alan Steinberg—who also served as an administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency—made a bold prediction for 2019: President Donald Trump will resign the presidency. But Steinberg did not just predict Trump's resignation.
Steinberg believes the businessman will fall back on his old life and "cut a deal."
In an opinion piece for the Star-Ledger, Steinberg stated:
"The major issue for political pundits regarding 2019 is whether Donald Trump’s presidency will survive the year leading into the 2020 elections.... Trump will not be removed from office by the Constitutional impeachment and removal process."
Instead, Steinberg asserted:
"...the self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charges against him, his children or the Trump Organization."
Steinberg felt Trump would be impeached by a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which would push the businessman to try to make the best deal he can. Facing numerous investigations by several Department of Justice entities, as well as state and municipal authorities in New York, immunity from prosecution—at least for himself—in exchange for stepping down from the presidency is Trump's best play according to Steinberg.
The former presidential adviser clarified:
"The legal danger to Trump is developing more in the office of the attorney general of New York State, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York."
Only one of those entities works for Trump's new acting Attorney General, Matt Whitaker. The others are entirely removed from the federal Department of Justice chain of command.
The President, as the head of the Trump Organization, already agreed to dissolve the Trump Foundation charity after a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General for the state of New York.
New York's lawsuit cited:
"...a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation—including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more."
But the President was not the only one cited in the state's filing. Three of his adult children—Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump—were also named in the lawsuit.
Would Trump relinquish the presidency to save his children from criminal charges?
In addition to the threat of criminal prosecution to his children, the guilty plea by former Trump personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen may open the Trump Organization itself to face charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Such prosecution could lead to asset seizure leaving the Trump empire in shambles.
Would Trump relinquish the presidency to protect his assets?
The last point Steinberg made was the unlikelihood of Trump being re-elected in 2020. Having never breached the 50 percent job approval mark, Trump remains unpopular with the majority of voters.
And while people might point to the success of the 2018 midterms where the GOP maintained control of the Senate, fewer Republican Senators were up for reelection in 2018 than Democrats. In the 2018 midterms, the GOP barely managed to maintain the status quo in the Senate and lost ground in the House and in Governors.
Because of Trump's failures in the midterms, where many of his endorsed candidates lost, Steinberg concluded:
"...it appears virtually impossible for Trump to be reelected in 2020. The economy appears headed for a severe recession, as evidenced by the recent plunge in the stock market, which appears on pace for its worst December since the Great Depression."
"There are only two years left in Trump’s presidential term. With his approval ratings in an abysmal state, and the forthcoming recession making it near impossible for Trump to stage a political recovery, it appears most likely that he will use the continuation of his presidency as a bargaining chip."
He surmised Trump would cut his deal with the help of his Vice President. He stated:
"Accordingly, before the end of 2019, Donald Trump will resign from the office of the presidency: He will do this pursuant to a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, the incoming President Mike Pence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New York Attorney General’s Office, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office."
"Here’s my prediction for a possible Trump departure: Trump resigns, to then be pardoned by Pence. In turn, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the New York State Attorney General will refrain from filing any charges against Trump and his family members and agree that there will be no forfeiture of Trump Organization assets."
None of the organizations mentioned in Steinberg's prediction have indicated a willingness to make a deal with the President in return for immunity from prosecution, of course. It is, after all, just a theory.
Many on Twitter would not take the deal.
And some brought up the slight matter of the Vice President:
But perhaps it's just wishful thinking for the president.