National Press Club

Trump will survive current woes, win second term, Gingrich predicts at Headliners Book Rap

June 16, 2017 | By Wesley G. Pippert | PippertW@missouri

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ,left, makes a point at June 16 National Press Club Headliners Book Rap as Jonathan Salant, former Club president and moderator of the event, listens.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich ,left, makes a point at June 16 National Press Club Headliners Book Rap as Jonathan Salant, former Club president and moderator of the event, listens.

Photo/Image: Al Teich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in a spirited defense of President Trump, predicted at a National Press Club Headliners Book Rap Friday that the Republicans may gain seats next year in the congressional elections and called the current Russian investigation "junk."

"I love saying in front of a liberal audience, 'During Trump's second term...'" Gingrich said.

Gingrich acknowledged he was "very worried" about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III who has "surrounded himself with the collective group of people who are engaged in a witch hunt." Earlier in the week Gingrich had tweeted that he considered Mueller "the anti-trump special counsel."

Spraying comments about a variety of issues that stretched across the decades since even before he was elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich came to the Club to tout his new book, "Understanding Trump." The Holeman lounge was nearly full, and for the presentation Gingrich and past Club president Jonathan Salant carried on a dialogue seated in chairs.

Gingrich's optimism was voiced at a time Mueller's investigation is reaching inside the White House and polls show Trump's popularity is low. Gingrich predicted that "gradually Trump will figure out an angle on how to break out from all this in a way that will be historic."

Gingrich suggested that Trump "not waste time or energy fighting over junk like the Russian stuff" that Mueller is investigating. Rather, Trump should "communicate directly with the American people" about jobs, repairing the nation's infrastructure, health care and tax cuts. Gingrich added that health care was "10 times more complicated" than national security and that infrastructure was "the best place to start."

Gingrich frequently reached back into history. When someone in the audience asked whether Trump could become like Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who made widespread charges about communist infiltration, Gingrich said there were "at least" 500 communist spies in the government and there were "a lot in Hollywood."

When asked about his own forced departure as House speaker in 1998, Gingrich called his ouster "a deliberate misuse of the ethics process," Of the 83 Democratic ethics charges levied against him, only one charge prevailed, he said. He added that there should be an investigation of the $500,000 a Russian bank paid Bill Clinton and the bank's hiring of Clinton adviser John Podesta's brother.

"Let's start with the Clintons," he said. Then he added that although Trump has been criticized for talking with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama had said much the same thing when he told Russians that he would be more free to deal with them after the election.