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President Trump’s biggest victory during 2017 was his precedent-setting success in appointing federal judges, including his pick of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a veteran political analyst.

Larry Sabato is a political science professor at the University of Virginia who runs a political analysis service there and “Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” a weekly online political newsletter and website that examines coming elections.

He said in an interview with Greg Corombos of Radio America that the president’s “really remarkable” success with judicial appointments was highlighted by the Gorsuch decision.

This administration, he said, has been “more successful” than any other in modern times regarding the courts.

Especially important, he said, were the numerous appointments to the appellate courts, since the U.S. Supreme Court takes only a handful of cases each year.

The appellate courts, he pointed out, are “really the court of last resort in the vast majority of cases.”

In addition, he said the tax-reform bill passed this month was critical to Trump and the Republican Party because other major efforts, such as an outright repeal of Obamacare, had fallen short.

“They were under the gun,” he said. “[There were] stories of large donors: If you don’t do this don’t call me for more campaign cash. That kind of call sticks with a congressman.”

The interview:

The year 2018, he forecast, will see attempts to do major infrastructure work, which could include the promised “wall” that Trump believes is needed to halt the  flow of illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico.

Sabato said one thing that is certain is that any major accomplishments that come through Congress will happen in the first part of the year.

Because it’s an election year, he explained, “they’re not going to have many legislative days.”

He said it will be important to watch how members “come out of the gate.”

“Are they going to take long vacations? … If they really put their noses to the grindstone and work a long week, not just a three-day week, starting in January, then Republicans could be a bit more optimistic.”

Meanwhile, he said, it appears the economy is “roaring.”

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