From the moment he entered politics, Donald Trump has repeatedly defied the verdict of Betfair markets. After what will be known forever as Mueller Monday, he will need to defy them again merely in order to see out his full term. The US President is now rated likelier than not – odds of 1.9 are equivalent to a 53% likelihood – to leave post early.
Whilst such odds, or even merely the existence of such betting options at this stage of a presidency, are unprecedented, it should also be noted that the market didn’t crash yesterday.
The weekend news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would file the first charges emerging from his extraordinary Russia investigation had already nudged that price above the 50% mark, where it has been hovering ever since Trump was elected.
Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, former chair and deputy-chair of the Trump campaign, are charged on 12 counts, including money laundering, tax evasion, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring against the USA. A third Trump advisor George Papadopoulos has also been charged, having admitted lying to the FBI about his connections and attempts to co-ordinate meetings between Russian officials and Trump.
Like all matters during the Trump Impeachment Saga, the significance of these developments rather depends on media preferences. Almost every mainstream media outlet reported it as a turning point – the beginning of a process that will engulf, weaken and perhaps destroy the Trump presidency.
On the other side, led by his own tweets, Trump’s surrogates and online army persist with their alternative version of events. They claim the charges apply to an era long before Manafort and Gates represented Trump. That the charges offer no evidence of collusion with his campaign and that, in fact, the Russia investigation will end up rebounding on Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.