How will the Mueller report factor into the 2020 race?
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Donald Trump’s rally in Michigan Thursday night was something of a victory lap. Inside a packed arena in Grand Rapids, Trump touted the findings of the Mueller report, which concluded there was no collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government.
“This was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to undermine the will of the American people,” Trump told the audience.
But as the President and his Democratic rivals gear up for the 2020 campaign, what role will the Mueller report play on the trail? If last night was any indication, it’s likely to help him with his base at future rallies. The so-called “witch hunt” is adding to the collection of greatest hits such as “build the wall” when discussing immigration policy and “fake news” when he attacks reporters.
But it’s also likely to remain a highly polarizing issue, and analysts suggest the President tread lightly.
“(Trump and Republicans) are in every way going to only stoke up the Democratic base that feels that there has been wrongdoing and that justice hasn’t been served,” said Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
For Democrats both on the campaign trail and in Congress, they’re focusing on getting the full Mueller report released. House Democrats have given Attorney General William Barr an April 2nd deadline to hand over the full report.
What we know about the 300+ page Mueller report – based on Barr’s four-page summary of the investigation that took nearly two years to complete – has given Trump’s approval rating a slight boost, rising back to 50 percent in a Rasmussen Reports poll released Thursday. Comparatively, President Barack Obama’s approval rating was at 47 percent on the same date in 2011 (the same point of each president’s first term), according to Rasmussen.
Eight years ago, the country was still climbing out of the recession. Of course, the economy is much better now, one of the many variables that could factor into Trump’s reelection bid. But it’s also important to add in the host of Congressional investigations ready to delve into Trump’s business and personal finances.
However, when it comes to the Mueller report, analysts see this issue driving voter turnout on both sides.
“In some ways, this is going to work in the 2020 election the same ways that the Kavanaugh hearings worked in the 2018 election,” Brown said.
It’s something that Trump said he sees as an asset more than a liability as he stumped Thursday in the same city he visited the weekend before he won the 2016 election, and in a state where he faces a tough re-election fight in 2020. (Trump edged out Hillary Clinton in Michigan by less than 12,000 votes in 2016.)
“When I campaign,” Trump said, “it’s going to be so much easier the second time.”