Following the results of the recent US midterm elections, the political landscape has changed overnight. The Republicans no longer have complete control over Congress as the Democrats took the House of Representatives, meaning that it will now be more difficult for the President to make the legislative changes that he desires. It also means that investigations into the President will now be much more difficult to obstruct, a fact that has clearly not escaped Trump.

The Democrats managed to secure the 218 seats needed in order to overturn the Republican majority in the House, a goal that they were expected to achieve but still a victory nonetheless. They did not fare as well in the Senate however, as the Republicans managed to gain 2 more seats, further boosting their already existing majority. Taking the House is a major success for the Democrats as it now means that they have more power to stop Trump implementing his legislative agenda, such as further tax cuts, and also means they have the ability to start more investigations into the President, regarding his tax returns for example.

Trump has not taken the sudden emergence of this threat to his Presidency lightly, as evidenced by his immediate reaction and the responses he has given in the following days. First claiming that the night was a major success, despite the loss of the House, he then rounded on CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had asked him about whether he had demonised immigrants during the midterm campaign. After this heated exchange between the two, Acosta had his press credentials revoked so he could no longer enter the White House, a clear example of Trump lashing out when he feels as though he is cornered. Another action he took was to fire his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, in response to him refusing to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions has been replaced by his Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has taken a much harsher line on the Russia investigation than his former boss did. He believes that Mueller, the man leading the investigation, has gone too far and is just trying to discredit the President when there is no evidence. His appointment indicates that Trump sees the combination of Mueller’s investigation and the Democratic capture of the House as an imminent sign that soon the case for his impeachment will be unstoppable. Therefore he is beginning to take precautionary steps in order to try and stop the net closing in completely.

While it will still be some time before the President faces actual impeachment, there is no doubt that the midterm results have increased the likelihood of it occurring. The building pressure placed upon Trump by the Russia investigation, and the continuing blows of more investigations being set up regarding his financial history, means that soon he will feel cornered enough to take drastic action against his opponents. It remains to be seen whether these responses will fall within constitutional limits, or whether they will consist of measures previously never used by a US President.

Cameron Forbes

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