OPED: Predictions for a wild and wacky 2018
After a unique 2017, can the denizens of the D.C. swamp outdo themselves in 2018? Let's look ahead with my annual not-totally-serious forecast:
January: With job approval at 38, President Donald Trump announces White House shake-up, naming Gen. John Kelly chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and, with Middle East negotiations moribund, son-in-law Jared Kushner as chief of staff. Former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken rejoins cast of "Saturday Night Live." In State of the Union speech, Trump hails "most successful first year of any president," asking Congress to repeal Obamacare, rebuild nation's infrastructure, fund the wall and stop trying to sanction "our friends" in Russia.
February: New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl. Independent Counsel Robert Mueller announces perjury indictment of Kushner, charging multiple incorrect statements in federal filings. Communications Director Hope Hicks becomes chief of staff. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appoints Ken Starr as Special Counsel to investigate the role of Hillary and Bill Clinton in selling U.S. uranium sites to Russian governmental company. South Korea calls off Winter Olympics after U.S. withdraws team, warning of "imminent" North Korean attack. Trump job approval at 35.
March: Russian President Vladimir Putin names Washington Capitals hockey star Alexander Ovechkin as new Russian ambassador to U.S. Trump says if he were Russian, he'd vote for Putin. House Freedom Caucus refuses to support reinstitution of DACA, so Democrats refuse to support government funding bill, forcing federal shutdown. Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez edges Andrew White as Texas Democratic nominee for governor. Putin wins re-election with 93 per cent. "A landslide just like mine," Trump says. Federal judge throws out Starr appointment to probe Clintons and uranium deal, citing statute of limitations.
April: Hope Hicks indicted for misleading statements to congressional committee; Donald Trump Jr. becomes chief of staff. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he won't seek re-election. After 22-day shutdown, Congress approves funding bill restoring DACA and planning funds for Trump's wall. North Korean missile lands near Hawaii. Trump warns of "serious consequences" if they don't abandon nuclear weapons. Buckingham Palace invites former President and Mrs. Obama to Prince Harry's wedding. Trump, not invited, cancels planned trip to London.
May: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announces next term will be her last. Senate rejects new bill repealing Obamacare, 51-49. Russian troops invade Ukraine; Trump, Putin blame Ukrainian provocation. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort convicted of seven counts and sentenced to 50 years in jail. Justice Anthony Kennedy announces he will remain on Supreme Court at least one more year. North Korea missile lands near Samoa; Trump issues strong warning.
June: Independent Counsel Mueller brings perjury charges against Donald Trump Jr. Kellyanne Conway becomes year's fifth chief of staff. Golden State beats Washington Wizards in NBA final. Expansion Vegas Golden Knights edge Washington Capitals in NHL final. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resigns, replaced by Sen. Bob Corker. Unemployment drops to 3.9 percent.
July: House includes wall funds in appropriations bill. Trump accuses Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer of plotting to keep him from naming new justices by staying alive. Russian President Putin hails "my friend, Donald," on Trump state visit to Moscow. President's job approval drops to 30.
August: Trump says the reports that many Republicans don't want him campaigning for them are "fake news." Conway fires Press Secretary Sarah Sanders after she is revealed as source for New York Times story about Trump's true golf scores. Independent Counsel Mueller accuses Green Party leader Jill Stein of colluding with Russia and Trump campaign to drain off Democratic votes.
September: Trump says "important government business" will limit his mid-term campaigning. Ex-Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announces presidential candidacy on his 12th trip to Iowa, joining Maryland Rep. John Delaney as formal Democratic candidates. Polls show Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders lead race with 12 and 10 per cent. Senate rejects wall funding. Hopelessly deadlocked, Congress passes interim funding measure until January.
October: Democrats say priority if they win Congress will be infrastructure spending; Trump says that is really code for impeaching him. President announces "surge" of government revenues from tax cut will reduce federal deficit to $750 billion. Poll shows only 34 percent believe him. New York Yankees win World Series over Washington Nationals. Trump says all Washington teams are "losers."
November: Democratic tsunami recaptures House, Senate and Florida, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio governorships. Trump blames Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Texas Gov. Glenn Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz re-elected, but GOP loses three Texas House seats. House GOP ousts entire leadership, picking Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows as leader. Senate GOP replaces McConnell with Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
December: Mueller's final report accuses President Trump of two counts of obstruction of justice but, despite "clear evidence' of Russian influence, finds no specific law violation in Putin's ties with Trump 2016 campaign. Lame-duck GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee approves impeachment resolution against Hillary Clinton. Twenty-seven Democrats announce intention to seek presidency in 2020.
—Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News.