Robert Mueller: His investigation is complete and no further indictments will be issued. Picture: Getty Images/Alex Wong
Robert Mueller: His investigation is complete and no further indictments will be issued. Picture: Getty Images/Alex Wong

Predicting the life and times of US President Donald Trump is like trying to guess which way a chicken in the middle of the road will go.

You just never know.

On Friday morning, things looked dark indeed for the leader of the free world, with various former confidants and advisers convicted of crimes as diverse as identity theft, obstruction of justice, campaign fraud and lying to the FBI as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. By late afternoon, however, after the news that Mueller’s investigation was complete and that no further indictments would be issued, Trump was in full crow, claiming "complete and total exoneration".

That Mueller’s report does not, in fact, exonerate the president is beside the point. The Trump Machine, blunt instrument that it is, will bludgeon any dissent with the mantras "no collusion" and "failed illegal takedown" and the red-state base will cheer from their bars, jets and recliners.

It’s too simple to say that Mueller has just handed Trump a second term, even though it sure looks that way. For one thing, there are various ongoing investigations into the president’s financial affairs which may yet turn out to be his vulnerable underbelly — time will tell.

Meanwhile, there’s a bigger problem for those praying for an end to Trump’s nation-polarising presidency: the economy. US unemployment has dropped to 4% and job growth has been up 101 months in a row. That gives Trump a tailwind for 2020, says Donald Luskin, chief investment officer at Trend Macrolytics, which predicted Trump’s win in 2016.

According to Politico, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi has tested 12 different economic models for the 2020 presidential race, and Trump romps home in all 12.

So, to paraphrase an old Cheech and Chong joke, the president ain’t gonna be doing eight years (in jail) — he’s doing eight years.

Hold on to your hats.