This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 12th May 2020
The betting for Next President remains strangely stable, with Donald Trump available to back at [2.1] and Joe Biden at [2.34]. This despite polls consistently favouring the latter.
It may be that, such is the scepticism around polling, it will take ‘events’ to shift market sentiment. If so, several potential gamechangers are coming into focus.
SCOTUS to hear Deutsche Bank arguments today
May 12th has long been in the diary of every keen follower of the TrumpRussia investigation. From 3pm UK time, CSpan will play live audio coverage of the arguments in front of the Supreme Court towards the case in which Trump is sueing his bankers and lawyers – to block them from complying with subpoenas, demanding the release of his records.
This is the endgame that I’ve been discussing for over three years. The moment when it becomes undeniable that Trump is bankrolled by Russian oligarchs allied to Vladimir Putin – whom Congress and every intelligence agency concluded interfered in the last election on his behalf. Or the moment when it becomes unarguable that this president is untouchable – above the law.
Deutsche Bank have been engulfed by a global criminal investigation into laundering money for Russian organised crime. Their relationship with Trump – involving dubious loans and techniques, employed after his bankruptcies meant few if any Western banks were willing to touch him – has been widely reported.
If the Supreme Court rules against him, Trump will likely have to release several years of tax returns and loan agreements with Deutsche Bank. Irrespective of all this alleged wrongdoing, his true worth could become public knowledge. This is arguably the riskiest moment of his entire career.
The president’s lawyers argue that their client should not have to comply with ‘political’ subpoenas from Congress and Manhattan prosecutors. This Bloomberg article provides a good overview of the legal arguments.
However important this may seem, don’t assume it will dominate headlines. There are numerous distractions to divert attention.
Fauci evidence could provide a distraction
In another key hearing, the country’s top epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci will appear remotely in front of a Senate committee tomorrow to answer questions related to coronavirus. The White House blocked him from appearing in front of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last week.
Trump, meanwhile, is throwing everything at transforming the narrative around Russia. Last week his Attorney General Bill Barr made a quite stunning move when dropping charges against Trump’s initial National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.
The fallout from that is far from finished. Nearly 2,000 former DOJ employees called on Barr to resign yesterday. This after a top DOJ official central to the judgement wrote a weekend op-ed accusing Barr of ‘twisting her words’ in order to justify his actions.
Flynn had earlier pleaded guilty, admitting lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian Ambassador in a phone call that was recorded by US intelligence. When summing up, Judge Emmett Sullivan said Flynn had ‘arguably betrayed his country‘. He doesn’t have to accept these Department of Justice recommendations without comment. This piece in The Atlantic discusses what he could say.
Trump turning accusations towards Obama
Trump’s plan remains to paint the entire investigation into a witch-hunt, directed by President Obama. Reversing the Flynn charges is a key stage of that. He’s now tweeting about Obamagate – without explaining precisely what the accusations are – incessantly and retweeting others boosting that narrative.