With the drop in his poll ratings to around 35 percent, Donald Trump faces a fresh peril. A further erosion in his numbers would threaten his ability to maintain his hold on a Republican Congress that he desperately needs to ward off the threat of impeachment. His old fighters from the primary campaign such as Corey Lewandowski have been urging him to cut loose as he did this past weekend at the annual meeting of CPAC. Their credo is ‘let Trump be Trump.’
But that would likely be a recipe for disaster. Trump’s popularity is sagging because he has been visibly floundering in recent weeks, from his mismanagement of his side Rob Porter, who was accused of beating several wives, to serial national security clearances for a variety of other aides. Add in the Florida school shooting and you have a Republican Party that is very much on the defensive.
Trump’s antics at CPAC, where he clowned around about his bald spot and denounced his political opponents, do little to inspire confidence among independent voters. Nor do reports that he is about to engage in a McMassacre—sacking his national security adviser H.R. McMaster who recently said at the Munich Security Conference there was ‘incontrovertible’ evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump almost instantly rebuked him in—what else?—a tweet.
Trump also continues to face a divided GOP, at least when it comes to the pundit class. The conservative columnist Mona Charen attracted national publicity at CPAC by lashing into Trump for his sexual adventures, and was escorted out of the venue by security guards. She followed up with an op-ed in the Nee York Times saying that it was high time for conservatives to break ranks with Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump also faces the specter of an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. His lawyers are trying to circumscribe the parameters of the interview with the novel argument that otherwise history indicates their client will doubtless commit perjury. In other words they view him as a congenital liar who needs to be saved from himself. Avoiding Mueller completely, however, would further damage Trump’s reputation and standing. If he falls below 30 percent, it will be the beginning of the end of his presidency.