You thought 2017 was a wild ride? Brace for 2018

President Donald Trump took America and the world on a wild ride last year.His norm-shattering first year in o...

Posted: Jan 2, 2018 2:35 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2018 2:35 PM

President Donald Trump took America and the world on a wild ride last year.

His norm-shattering first year in office never failed to shock, and through his love of confrontation, insatiable demands for attention and deliberate clawing at political, cultural and racial fault lines, Trump has delivered an era of unpredictability and raw nerves that is sure to intensify in 2018.

Trump has delivered an era of unpredictability that is sure to intensify

Cheered by his tax victory and vacation, he can't wait to get back into the fray

Congressional elections in November could bring a Democratic wave

The new year brings deepening crises, confrontations and events that could shake Washington to its core and trigger shock waves that will test American unity, global peace and the cohesion of the Trump presidency itself.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation could come to fruition in 2018, and any finding of wrongdoing by Trump or close associates could cause a constitutional imbroglio.

Abroad, the North Korean crisis -- a brewing showdown for 65 years across the world's last Cold War frontier -- is reviving fears of nuclear war for the first time since the demise of the Soviet Union.

RELATED: The 47 most outrageous lines in Donald Trump's New York Times interview

And one particular date looms on the calendar: November 6, when congressional elections take place that could see a Democratic wave neuter the Trump presidency. But if Trump -- currently with an approval rating below 40% -- can beat the midterm curse, possibly lifted by a rising economy, he could position himself for re-election in 2020.

Then there are the national and international crises -- mass shootings, economic meltdowns, terror attacks, natural disasters and geopolitical confrontations -- that test every White House and shape each year's politics.

The President, cheered by his tax reform victory and sated by days of holiday golf at his Florida resorts, cannot wait to get back into the fray.

"We're going to have a great 2018. It's going to be something very, very special. It's all kicking in," Trump told guests at his lavish New Year's Eve ball at Mar-a-Lago in the dying moments of 2017.

"We have some pretty good enemies out there, but step by step they're being defeated," he added. "Everybody's going to love what's happening in our country, because we're taking this big beautiful ship, and we're slowly turning it around."

Waiting for Mueller's next move

Four Trump associates have been been charged and after reaching a plea deal with former national security adviser Mike Flynn, Mueller may be taking aim at the President's inner circle.

Trump supporters and the conservative media have whipped up a fierce effort to discredit Mueller. In the meantime, the special counsel's silence deepens the mystery over how and when the probe will end.

There are so many questions: Will Mueller deliver a report alleging collusion with Russian election meddling in the 2016 campaign or even recommend the opening of impeachment proceedings? Will Trump seek to pardon former aides and any family members who might be implicated?

Is Mueller preparing more blockbuster indictments? Will political tensions tear apart congressional probes into Russia's election operation? And will congressional Republicans, who celebrated Trump in an extraordinary victory party after the tax win, hold him accountable if necessary?

Trump's lawyers have told CNN that the President is much less nervous about the Mueller probe now, and they expect it to wrap up soon and exonerate him.

But top Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut predicted Mueller is just getting started.

"Trump denial of Russian collusion rotten at core and doomed to unravel," Blumenthal tweeted on Saturday. "Expect more serious convictions and indictments early in 2018 as Special Counsel climbs ladder of criminal culpability - and more panicky, preemptive attacks from Republicans."

They can't both be right.

Nuclear brinksmanship with North Korea

In an alarming New Year's message, the isolated state's leader, Kim Jong Un, warned that the entire United States was within range of his missiles and the nuclear button "is always on the desk in my office."

While that may be an exaggeration of North Korea's capabilities, 2018 could be the year Pyongyang succeeds in putting a nuclear tip on an intercontinental ballistic missile, leaving Trump with the agonizing choice of whether to accept the new status quo or launch military action that some experts fear could degenerate into the bloodiest conflict since World War II.

Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the US was now "closer to a nuclear war with North Korea than ever."

The US position that Pyongyang must disarm, and the North Korean one that it will not stop until it can demonstrably hit the US, leaves no obvious off ramp. But Kim's recent comment that he wanted to ease border tensions with South Korea ahead of February's Winter Olympics may offer hope for dialogue.

RELATED: Trump accuses China of allowing oil into North Korea

China will continue its rise to challenge US global dominance. US-Russia relations, apart from the personal warmth between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, are deteriorating quickly.

Trump's tough new Middle East policy, targeting Iran's regional power plays, is sending tensions soaring. US relations with traditional allies in Europe have been frayed in the age of "America First," and the year's first humanitarian crisis is primed to erupt in Yemen, as an Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war rages.

Trump's congressional majorities at stake

Democrats, fired up by strong performances in off-year elections in Virginia and New Jersey and by capturing an Alabama US Senate seat, sense a chance to recapture the House and the Senate in an election that will inevitably be a referendum on the turbulent Trump administration.

Trump is already itching to be involved, though an approval rating in the mid-30% range may make him an unwelcome guest for vulnerable Republicans.

Early in the year, GOP primary duels could escalate the raging Republican civil war between anti-establishment firebrand Steve Bannon and party leaders, who warn that his insurgent candidates could cost them power in Washington.

Republicans will hope that a racing economy, low unemployment and a booming stock market will lift Trump's popularity. The map may also count against Democrats, as they must defend 10 Senate seats in states Trump won in 2016, and redistricting has made many Republican House seats more safe.

A CNN poll last month gave Democrats an 18% advantage in a generic ballot against Republicans.

How will Republicans respond?

Republicans are already facing a logjam in Congress, under pressure to fund the government, renew a children's health insurance program and solve the conundrum over the status of thousands of undocumented migrants brought to the US as children whose legal status will expire within months.

Those issues will test the new spirit of unity between Trump and congressional Republicans forged by the tax triumph.

Already, GOP leaders are at odds over what to do next. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to pursue welfare and entitlement reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warns that his now one-seat majority might dash such high hopes, and the President is pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that would need Democratic votes.

McConnell has also pledged to hold a vote on an immigration deal -- if one is reached by the end of January.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
65° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 66°
Van Wert
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Breezy, Sunny Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events