Alan J. Steinberg, a former adviser to former President George W. Bush, predicted that President Donald Trump would not be removed from office but that he would leave the presidency by the end of 2019.
In an op-ed published by NJ.com and released on Tuesday, Steinberg wrote that Trump's "abysmal" approval ratings and a "forthcoming recession" will lead to Trump making a deal to resign from the Oval Office to avoid any likely criminal charges made against him and his family.
"Trump will not be removed from office by the Constitutional impeachment and removal process," Steinberg, who previously served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA under the Bush administration and executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former Republican New Jersey gov. Christine Todd Whitman, wrote.
"Instead, the self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charges against him, his children or the Trump Organization," he continued.
Steinberg predicted that Trump will be impeached when the Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3 and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is "poised to reclaim the speaker's gavel, will have the votes to send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Steinberg contended that Trump will be impeached for his alleged involvement in directing his former attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen to make hush-money payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in the months leading up to the 2016 election. But, Steinberg argued, it is "highly unlikely" that the Senate would also vote to remove Trump from office — a move that would require at least 20 Republican Senators to abandon the president and vote with all of the Democrats.
"That is highly unlikely, regardless of how compelling the impeachment case may be. All but five of the 53 GOP senators represent solid Republican Red states," Steinberg wrote. "Their incumbency will not be threatened by their vote against removal of the president. Each such senator runs a serious risk, however, of a pro-Trump primary election challenge if he or she supports the removal of Trump from office."
However, Steinberg wrote that amid news of multiple criminal investigations of the president, including the shuttering of the Trump Foundation by the New York Attorney General for a "shocking pattern of flagrant and repeated illegality," it appears "virtually impossible for Trump to be reelected in 2020."
"There are only two years left in Trump's presidential term. With his approval ratings in an abysmal state, and the forthcoming recession making it near impossible for Trump to stage a political recovery, it appears most likely that he will use the continuation of his presidency as a bargaining chip," Steinberg wrote.
"Accordingly, before the end of 2019, Donald Trump will resign from the office of the presidency: He will do this pursuant to a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, the incoming President Mike Pence, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, the New York Attorney General's Office, and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office," he continued.
For what he called a "possible Trump departure," Steinberg predicted Trump would resign to then be pardoned by Vice President Pence. "In turn, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the New York State Attorney General will refrain from filing any charges against Trump and his family members and agree that there will be no forfeiture of Trump Organization assets," he continued.
"We will know by this time in 2019 how accurate this scenario turns out to be," Steinberg concluded.