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Donald Trump (AP)

Washington - After two tumultuous years, the next months of Donald Trump´s presidency may test the solidarity of those Republicans who are keen on the idea of having him as their new leader.

Trump has defied the expectations of what a President is. His personal, discriminatory attacks on the press and the mocking tone that marked his campaign have stained his public policy decisions. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the interference of the Russian government on the 2016 US elections and the potential "collusion" by the current President in that scandal will mark - apparently early in the year - the next stage of his presidency.

Although the report is confidentially submitted to the Department of Justice, Democrats in Congress - now in control of the House - have demanded to publicly  disclosed it.

The document - whether to point to new potential violations of law or summarize the cases against more than 30 people that the prosecutor brought to court - will determine, to a large extent, if Democrats see ground to start impeachment proceedings, like that against Bill Clinton for his lies regarding his extramarital affair with Monica Lewisnky.

Trump's popularity has dropped below 40 percent according to the Gallup polling – that is the lowest rates for a president since World War II. However, Trump´s approval is really high among conservatives and the undisputed leader of the Grand Old Party (GOP).

"Now, Republican politicians fear to confront Trump because if he sends messages to his followers pointing at some people for not having been “loyal”, then that may affect their re-election. However, all that may change if there is a report by the Department of Justice pointing at Trump or his family as involved in acts of corruption associated to their links with Russia or charges related to obstruction of justice," said José Javier Colón Morera, analyst and a Political Science Professor at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR).

This newspaper article would not be enough to describe all the political and social battles under the Trump administration, ranging from immigration issues to appointments to the Supreme Court

But, for example, even the way he President Trump handles his disappointment with members of his government is unconventional.

Trump fuel the complaints regarding his intention to obstruct Mueller´s investigation by dismissing FBI director James Comey. He even fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter. Tillerson tried to soften Trump´s isolationist foreign policy.

Trump´s second year at the White House is marked by the longest government shutdown in history, 30 days so far, due to his demand that any agreement seeking to reopen government offices must include a $5.7 billion allocation to build part of the U.S-México border wall.

Even before the potential Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections was revealed, Trump developed a peculiar relation with Moscow in terms of what American politicians are used to. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said at a campaign event in July 2016.

The Russian plot

However, it was Comey's dismissal that gave way to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.

The wave of news -that in other circumstances may have been considered unbelievable- does not stop. The New York Times recently reported that prior to Mueller's appointment, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether President Trump worked for the Russians. Trump has deemed that possibility ridiculous.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post revealed that Trump seized the notes taken by the person who translated his 2017 conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Hamburg, Germany. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was at the meeting but it is unusual not to keep the notes in the federal government official files. 

Amid  Mueller's investigation, Trump has seen some of his allies -such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen- fall due to different reasons.

The cases against Cohen - who went from a problem solver lawyer to his most dangerous adversary - become more important, since he is cooperating with Mueller's office investigation.

So far, Cohen has been implicated in a conspiracy -during the presidential campaign- to buy with money the silence of women, who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Trump when he was a private citizen. Cohen said he responded to Trump's orders.

The U.S. president says they were simple private transactions.

Although Mueller is investigating whether Trump's group conspired in the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the New York prosecutor's office is conducting an investigation on potential violations of laws related to campaign financing, regarding payments to women who said had due to the payment of women who claimed they had sexual relations with Trump.

Cohen - sentenced to three years in prison last December - admitted to violations of electoral laws, tax evasion and having lied to Congress.

A few days ago, BuzzFeed reported that things may get even worse for Trump. According to BuzzFeed, Cohen said that Trump directed him to lie to Congress about his real estate project in Russia in 2016, at a time when he was amid the presidential campaign. Mueller filed charges against Cohen for those lies.

Mueller's office took, however, the odd decision to warn that Buzzfeed's report was not accurate. "I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night," said yesterday President Trump.

For experts, if it were true that he instructed Cohen to lie to Congress, Trump would have obstructed justice. It is the same claim that Democrats have made about Trump's decision to dismiss Comey, when the FBI was just examining reports regarding the Russian interference.

Those who defend Trump, including his lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, believe that there is no evidence directly implicating the U.S .president. Javier Ortiz, executive director of FixPuertoRico.org, said that it is impossible to speculate about the work of the special counsel, since it is a secret job and nothing to date indicates that there was collusion on the part of the candidate.

Ortiz, a partner at Falcon Cyber Investments, was part of President Trump's Transition Team in the area of health.

Although there is a debate regarding the long-term effect of the fiscal deficit increase, - such as the federal tax reform – Trump´s first two years as president have been marked by a growth in economic indicators. 

The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent, as part of a downward trend that comes from the last years of Barack Obama´s presidency.

But, what stands out are Trump’s external and internal political battles. Professor Colón Morera argued that to find such tumultuous years, "some presidential historians indicate that we should go back to the period before the U.S. Civil War."

However, he believes that perhaps the best comparison is to Richard Nixon´s presidency, who resigned in 1974 before the House impeachment proceedings due to the Watergate scandal. "A political psychology student, (James David) Barber, anticipated that Nixon had a psychological profile that was going to make him a very dangerous president. And that´s how that was," said Professor Colón Morera.

International affairs

At the international level, Trump has emphasized his public policy  "America goes first", which has confronted him with North American neighbors, NATO members, and created tariff battles with China and other countries. Also his “love and hate” relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stands out..

For many, another highlight of his tenure was on December 19 when he announcement his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, in spite of the recommendations of his former Defense Secretary, retired General James Mattis, and the Pentagon leadership.

Trump alleged that the tropos withdrawal was justified by the "defeat" of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but after the attack that killed four Americans –the worst since the mobilization of U.S. tropos to Syria- Republicans are demanding him to reconsider that decision.

For the US government, their presence in Syria had the purpose of containing Iran and the influence of Russia.

Although other key figures, such as Secretary Tillerson, or National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, left without wanting to generate controversy, Mattis wrote in his resignation letter that, “we must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances."

For Ortiz, Trump has surprised "the national and international establishment" with his focus on placing Americans first and with policies that promote the creation of domestic jobs and bilateral trade agreements.

Ortiz said that the president is keeping his word withdraw troops from many areas around the world. He is sending a message to world leaders that Americans will no longer be alone when facing regional or transnational threats.

With a Democrat-controlled House - whether or not there is reason to start an impeachment proceeding with a Republican-controlled Senate- the fact is that this fall there would be many  legislative investigations on Trump, including his finances and the slow and inefficient federal response to the disaster that Hurricane María left in Puerto Rico.


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