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 1:35 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2018 1:35 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 95°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather