From the release of veteran political journalist/author Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House” (which is due out on September 11) to Paul Manafort’s second trial to low approval ratings only two months before the November midterms, this week is getting off to a very bad start for President Donald Trump. And if Democrats, by some chance, are able to sink the confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh—who, most likely, will be confirmed—the president’s mood will become even worse. Trump needs a Kavanaugh confirmation badly, as it would help to rally his hardcore far-right base and the Christian Right in the midterms. For Trump, a Kavanaugh confirmation would be a silver lining behind all the dark clouds that are circling his presidency.
Here are five reasons why this week is getting off to a very bad start for Trump.
1. Trump Dreads the Release of Bob Woodward’s New Book, ‘Fear: Trump in the White House’
Bob Woodward is no lightweight when it comes to political journalism. The veteran journalist/author has written about a long list of presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama to Richard Nixon—and he has a reputation for being an incredibly thorough and meticulous researcher. So when Woodward paints a president in a negative light, it’s all the more damning. Excerpts from Woodward’s soon-to-be-release “Fear: Trump in the White House” have been surfacing, and the book describes Trump’s administration as being in a state of nonstop chaos and turmoil. Woodward depicts Trump as a loose cannon who insults his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, calling him a “dumb southerner” and “mentally retarded”—and giving how important the southern states are to the Republican Party, that is hardly the type of publicity Trump needs.
2. Trump Remains Furious Over Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed by Senior Administration Official
As if the release of “Fear” weren’t bad enough for the president, September 5 saw the publication of an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that was written by a frustrated senior official in his administration and—like Woodward’s book—painted a very negative picture of Trump’s presidency. According to the op-ed, some members of Trump’s own administration are so fed up and worried that they have talked about using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Trump remains furious over the publication of the op-ed, insulting the New York Times repeatedly and demanding that Sessions conduct an investigation to find out who wrote it.
3. Paul Manafort Is Facing His Second Criminal Trial
On September 4, jury selection started in the second criminal trial of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort—who is facing charges of obstruction of justice and money laundering. This comes after the verdict handed down by a jury in Alexandria, Virginia on August 21, when Manafort was convicted of eight criminal charges (including bank fraud and tax evasion). And the second trial, scheduled to begin on September 17, could be even worse for Manafort because federal prosecutors and the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller have a lot more evidence this time. Plus, it is obvious that Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the second trial, isn’t nearly as sympathetic to Manafort as Judge T.S. Ellis III was during the first trial.
4. Trump’s Approval Ratings Are Consistently Low
When an ABC News/Washington Post poll came about before Labor Day Weekend and showed that Trump’s approval rating was only 36%, his supporters were hoping that the poll would be an outlier. But other recent pollshave been bad news for the president as well, including an IBD/TIPP poll that also showed 36% approval for him and a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that was released on September 5 and showed Trump’s approval at 37%.
And according to a September 8-9 YouGov poll, Trump’s approval is only 39%(with 24 approving “strongly” and 15% approving “somewhat”). Truth be told, even the best, most scientific polls have a 5% margin of error. But even so, these are bad poll numbers for a president to have when the midterms are only two months away.
5. One Trump Ally After Another Is Cooperating With Federal Prosecutors
The number of Trump allies who have flipped and are cooperating with Mueller’s team in its Russia-related investigation has continued to grow. The following Trump allies have all been cooperating with federal prosecutors: Sam Patten (a lobbyist linked to Manafort), Allen Weisselberg (the Trump Organization’s chief financial advisor), Michael Cohen (Trump’s former personal attorney), Rick Gates (a 2016 Trump campaign aid and the prosecution’s star witness in Manafort’s first trial), David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media, Michael Flynn (the Trump Administration’s former national security advisor) and George Papadopoulos (a foreign policy advisor for Trump’s presidential campaign). And on top of that, Bloomberg is reporting that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are conducting an investigation to see if anyone in the Trump Organization violated campaign finance laws in 2016.