Monday, July 6, 2020

The bankrupt president - how Trump's presidency might end

Trump’s Presidency Is About to Enter Chapter 11. As the walls close in on him, what will Trump do? Nicholas Grossman, a political science professor at the University of Illinois writing in, proposes some answers. Following are excerpts.

First, he could just cheat.

… Trump’s problem is that … electoral shenanigans only pay off at the margins. Maybe they can swing a closely-divided state, but they can’t overcome the kind of 5- and 7-point deficits Trump is seeing in most battleground state polls.

Which means he’d need to do something next-level, like changing vote totals, suspending the election, or refusing to leave after a certified loss. And those would be extremely difficult.

Large-scale vote tampering would take a massive operation  and be difficult to hide. Changing Election Day requires an act of Congress. Refusing to leave after a loss would require support from the military and the Secret Service.

[Scriber:] Might we pause here and contemplate “support from the military.” Not a lot, actually. See this story about generals speaking out,

Trump could certainly contest a close election. Definitely if it’s within recount range. And if Trump’s leading on Election Night, but mail-in ballots give Biden the victory a week later, Trump could cry fraud, launch lawsuits, tell his supporters that it’s not over, and fight it out all the way to the Supreme Court. (Neil Gorsuch being the deciding vote against Trump would be the greatest irony of them all.)

But contesting an unambiguous loss takes on a lot of additional risk — to himself and his family, let alone the country — for a relatively low chance of success. The man who went to the White House bunker in response to Black Lives Matter protests probably doesn’t have the stomach for the public reaction if he loses and tries to stay.

Especially when there’s another option.

He could just bail.

Donald Trump talks about #winning so much that people often forget that one of the defining aspects of his life have been his bankruptcies.

Going bankrupt taught Trump a very important lesson: If you fail, make sure other people pay the price.

Trump’s companies have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times, and he sometimes managed to make money for himself even as the business went broke. With his Atlantic City casinos, Trump had the company pay him millions in salary and bonuses before filing for Chapter 11, stiffing contractors and creditors, and leaving his partners holding the bag. Stock and bond holders lost over $1.5 billion. And, using now-illegal accounting tricks, Trump even managed to get hundreds of millions in tax write-offs for himself.

Well, Trump’s presidency is going bankrupt. Which means that he will put himself first and get out with as much as he can, screwing over whoever he has to on the way out the door. In this scenario, after losing the election Trump would focus more on issuing pardons and setting up new business ventures than trying to remain in power.

Pardons! Maybe Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and 2016 campaign chair Paul Manafort, all confessed or convicted lawbreakers. Maybe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who allegedly misused government resources, bypassed Congressional regulations to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, and then got the inspector general investigating it fired. Maybe Jared and Ivanka, Don Jr., and — sure why not — Eric. The pardon power is basically unlimited.

Except for this: can a president pardon himself? Lawyers are on various sides of that question, and it hasn’t been tested. Maybe we’ll find out.

Or maybe Trump will resign in January so Pence can pardon him.

… there’s also the possibility Trump thinks his presidency is ending and is running his old bankruptcy play, projecting confidence while anticipating a loss — a loss that he won’t let land on him.

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