The very right wing editorial board of the Wall Street Journal has called on Trump to resign.
If Mr Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign. This would be the cleanest solution since it would immediately turn presidential duties over to Mr Pence And it would give Mr Trump agency, a la Richard Nixon, over his own fate.
This might also stem the flood of White House and Cabinet resignations that are understandable as acts of conscience but could leave the government dangerously unmanned. Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, in particular should stay at his post.
We know an act of grace by Mr. Trump isn’t likely. In any case this week has probably finished him as a serious political figure. He has cost Republicans the House, the White House, and now the Senate. Worse, he has betrayed his loyal supporters by lying to them about the election and the ability of Congress and Mr. Pence to overturn it. He has refused to accept the basic bargain of democracy, which is to accept the result, win or lose.
It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away quietly.
But has this episode actually “finished him as a serious political figure”? Will it really happen that “he goes away quietly”?
Making prediction about what Trump will do is harder than making predictions about the movements of a fruit fly. But what are his options?
One problem for Trump is that many of his options are now gone because of his disgraceful behavior, especially in the period since the November election. It is unlikely, for example, that he will get a TV show on any major network. He is reportedly deep in debt and his businesses are even now not doing that well even though he has used his position to drum up customers for them. Once he leaves office, that will drop off. He needs to make money and also needs to find ways to get attention for the sake of his ego. Once he is no longer president, any political activity such as holding rallies will be at his own expense and without the attention that being the president got him and he is a notorious cheapskate. He has raised quite a bit of money off the rigged election grift but can he continue to do so after he leaves?
I think that Trump has also destroyed any chance that he will be pardoned by Joe Biden. I had serious concerns that Biden would do it since presidents like to create the sense that they have immunity for their actions. But Trump may have gone too far for Biden to risk this move because it would cause far greater outrage that Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon. Trump will have to try to pardon himself and there continue to be reports that he is exploring that option.
One option is that he runs again in 2024. Although he was an unlikely winner of the nomination in 2016, essentially running against the Republican party, they quickly coalesced around him and indeed accorded him a level of slavish devotion that exceeded anything that I have seen before for a president. But they also excused and enabled his worst excesses, making him think he could do anything and thus created a monster. It enabled Trump to even boast that he could openly shoot someone and Fifth avenue and would not face any consequences.
The party is likely to resist him running again since Trump has achieved an unenviable trifecta. In 2016, Republicans won the presidency and both houses of Congress but in 2020 Trump was the first incumbent since Herbert Hoover in 1932 to lose re-election and both houses. He has proven himself to be a loser. The problem is that while he undoubtedly has the ability to bring in a whole lot of people to vote for him, he seems to also create an even bigger backlash among those who want to vote against him, as David A. Graham writes.
The results in the November and January elections underscore the peril that Trump leaves behind for the Republican Party. In both 2016 and 2020, Trump’s magic was his ability to turn out voters who either don’t always vote or have historically voted Democratic, especially white, non-college-educated voters. That was enough to put him over the top in 2016, and enough to create a scare for Biden (and pollsters) in 2020.
There are three problems with this approach. First, it wasn’t enough to give Trump a win in 2020. Second, these voters don’t appear to come out in the same numbers when Trump isn’t on the ballot. Third, Trump creates a backlash effect. Even without him on the ballot Tuesday night, Black voters turned out in droves and white suburban voters didn’t come home to the Republican Party. In short, Trump has broken the old Republican coalition, perhaps irrevocably, and created a new one that apparently exists when he’s up for election.
So will the party establishment fight him again should he choose to run? And if so, will he defeat them again? By any sane measure, his dream of possibly running again in 2024 are shot since the Republican establishment should, by all reasonable standards, not support him. Of course, unprincipled politicians have notoriously short memories when it comes to advancing their ambitions and can turn on a dime. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are extreme examples of people who raged against Trump in 2016 and then became his most slavish acolytes. Recall that Cruz was so angry at Trump calling his wife ugly and suggesting that Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination that he used his speech at the 2016 party convention to pointedly not endorse him, getting roundly booed in the process, while Graham called him “crazy” and “a kook” who was “unfit for office”. Now look at them, willing to do anything to ingratiate themselves with him.
The big test for Trump will come in 2022. He has threatened to campaign in the mid-term primary elections against all those Republican incumbents whom he felt did not sufficiently support his efforts to overturn the election results. He thus risks creating a serious intra-party fight. If his preferred candidates win their primaries and then go on to win their mid-term elections and the Republicans regain both houses of Congress, you can be sure that the party establishment will again immediately fall in line behind him.
My guess is that at least initially, Trump will go into a deep sulk come January 21st since he will no longer be able to command media attention, will no longer be able to fly in presidential planes and helicopters and have the military salute him, and attend summits with world leaders. Even though he shirked doing the work of being president, he definitely enjoyed the pomp and prestige and adulation and giving orders to people. Now he will go back to being just an ordinary schmuck. I am not sure if his narcissism, that has been fed a high energy diet these four years, will be able to withstand the meager rations that now awaits him. His mental state, always questionable, may not be able to withstand the ignominy.