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Russia scandal could dog Trump’s presidency for years, political analyst says

  • The constant headlines about Russian interference in the presidential race are hurting political momentum for key reforms, including on health care and tax policy

  • An ABC News poll showed that Trump's approval ratings are at their lowest level when compared to any president in office for six months, dating back 70 years.
Donald Trump speaking from the White House on June 20, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Donald Trump speaking from the White House on June 20, 2017.

The ongoing scandals involving President Donald Trump could put an end to his presidency at a time when his approval ratings are at an all-time low, a political analyst told CNBC on Monday.

The constant headlines about Russian interference in the presidential race are also hurting political momentum for key reforms, including on health care and tax policy, he added.

"This scandal is going to continue for months, if not years. It's going to dog his presidency, it's already crippling it and it could end it," Brian Klaas, fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, said.

His comments referred to reports that Donald Trump Junior met with a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign. His accounts of the meeting have changed from a "short introductory meeting" to one where the lawyer stated she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Hillary Clinton. Trump has fiercely defended his son and said that most people would have attended the meeting.

This isn't the first scandal that's damaged the image of the president. Former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump while he was leading an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election, testified to the Senate in June. At the time, Erik Jones, professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins University, told CNBC that it was too early to assess the impact of Comey's testimony but it would certainly have an impact on how many Americans see their president.

But Jones added that there wasn't enough political support to impeach the President and put an end to Trump's presidency. "Impeachment is a political process, it's not a legal process," Jones noted. "All you need is a wave of opinion among particularly congressional Republicans that there's a reason to move against this president. So far we haven't seen that shift in opinion," he said.

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Jones said it is only a matter of time before opinion shifts.

"I think there is always a chance that the Russia scandal could tip opinion among Congressional Republicans in favor of finding a way to get rid of the President. That hasn't happened yet. We will probably have to wait another year to see real evidence show up in the contests that precede the mid-term Congressional elections," he said in an email.

However, since then, Trump's six-month presidency has shown signs of fraying, according to opinion polls. An ABC News poll showed on Sunday that his approval ratings are at their lowest level when compared to any president in office for six months, dating back 70 years.

According to Klaas, Trump is a "toxic political force" that doesn't gather any support from those in the center and that cannot control his message to the public.

"His lawyers say 'don't tweet about something,' he tweets about it two hours later. His team says it's infrastructure week and he tweets about Hillary Clinton," Klaas noticed, while adding: "The problem of this presidency is Donald Trump, it's who he is."

As a result of the scandals and the many messages from Trump, many policies seem to be going nowhere, according to Klaas.

"The health-care bill is stalled, there's no momentum for tax reform and the infrastructure bill is not even being discussed," Klaas noted.

A vote on Trump's health-care bill is being delayed as between 8 to 10 senators claim "serious concerns" over the bill as well as due to the fact that Senator John McCain is recovering from surgery. The other two reform areas - tax cuts and big infrastructure spending - were two of Trump's main campaign pledges.

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