By Colleen O'Connor
With control of the House up for grabs, and many voters eager to deliver a referendum on President Trump, we can expect a wild night Tuesday.
The night will begin early for California with East Coast states starting to report votes at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. In fact, before dinnertime in San Diego, it is possible that control of the House of Representatives will already be decided.
That outcome would be fueled mostly by East Coast, suburban, college-educated white women. According to Monmouth University polling, a surge in these usually Republican-leaning women will decide control of the House. They want Trump “checked.”
California may pick up as many as five seats from Republicans. Pennsylvania will be a close second with four.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a shoo-in and has been since she single handedly released the Fusion GPS files—in defiance of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nancy Pelosi, always underestimated, will likely again become Speaker of the House—despite all the media noise about a viable challenger.
By all accounts, she has her votes in hand and her committee assignments and agendas in place. Plus, she has vowed to remain in office as long as Trump is President.
Because California delays the absentee, overseas, and mail-in ballots, the state’s results may take weeks to become official. Look for lots of complaints and suits and charges of “fake” numbers and voter suppression in any close race.
Already, supporters of Proposition 6 are threatening a recall effort against Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra for writing what they consider a deceptive official description of that ballot measure.
But despite the national furor, issues like Proposition 6 make this essentially a midterm regional election.
The Midwest will probably not remain Republican, so any unexpected fireworks for Democrats will happen in states like Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas that have seriously competitive Senate races.
That these contests are even close—in states that Trump won handily in 2016 and needs to win again in 2020—is remarkable.
Next: The Powder Keg
After Tuesday’s election, expect White House aides to begin exiting into Trump’s re-election campaign positions. Hope Hicks is already there, as are Corey Lewandowski and Rob Porter, with more to come.
And there are more to leave, including possibly Defense Secretary James Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The powder keg will be ignited with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the imminent firings or retirements at the Justice Department.
Look for Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to go, and the same for his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. The number three position is vacant, which leaves Solicitor General Noel Francisco next in line.
The problem is that Francisco, has a serious conflict of interest. His former law firm—and one that he retains a financial interest in—is also the firm representing the Trump campaign.
How to avoid this conflict? On April 24 the Trump administration granted Francisco an “ethics waiver” allowing him to skirt the rules and assume control of the Mueller investigation and its budget, should the need arise.
This waiver has been kept secret for months. With good reason; it is a powder keg.
The ultimate decider on whether a sitting president can be “subpoenaed” rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. No surprise, Trump’s newly appointed Associate Justice, Brett Kavanaugh says not. Thus the rush for that appointment.
Also fueling the powder keg is the mystery court fight that is possibly over a threatened subpoena from Mueller. There is also a pending court test of Mueller’s powers scheduled in the D.C. Court of Appeals one day after the election.
Next up are the sentencing for guilty pleas and convictions of Trump’s top campaign aides and advisors: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn. Enter then the unbridled sweep of presidential pardon powers.
Also looming, the “bigly” crowded field of Democratic hopefuls who will announce their presidential bids before Thanksgiving.
Still unmentioned are the international threats from trade wars, the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the retirement of German Chancellor Angel Merkel, and the financial and political instability of Italy, Venezuela, and Central America.
The powder keg looks ominous, regardless of who gets to celebrate on Tuesday night.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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