Brace yourself for the most dangerous 65 days of Trump's presidencyNovember 16, 2020
- Trump's political invincibility is shattered, and with it his presidential immunity to criminal investigations. He's got nothing left to lose, so expect him to break stuff on his way out of the White House.
- A lame-duck Trump is a Trump with all the power and none of the accountability.
- Expect him to pardon his criminal allies, make political appointees into career government officials, and issue a slew of executive orders.
- He can leave a noticeable gash on the country as a parting gift, because Trump has no ambitions besides winning and vengeance.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Hide the good silverware. Donald Trump's getting evicted from the people's house.
The news outlets on Saturday morning called Pennsylvania, and the presidency, for former vice president and now President-elect Joe Biden — which, not for nothing, Insider and Decision Desk HQ did more than 24 hours earlier — and so began the daily countdown until Trump leaves the White House.
In 65 days (as of Monday), both the blink of an eye and an eternity, Trump will again be a private citizen, a former public servant, and the nominal administrator of several debt-choked businesses.
But in the meantime he's still the most powerful man in the world and a bad tenant.
Trump's political invincibility is shattered, and with it his presidential immunity to criminal investigations will soon come to an end. He's got nothing left to lose.
He's purging federal agencies of anyone not blindly loyal to him, the people who might act as impediments to his administration's blessing of Israel's illegal settlement-building in the West Bank, or any number of sweeping executive orders.
"All he's got now is breaking stuff, and he's going to do that with a vengeance," Trump's niece Mary wrote in an op-ed for The Observer this weekend.
Beware the petulant lame duck
Joe Biden is on pace to roughly double Hillary Clinton's popular-vote margin over Trump, but as any Trumpist will tell you, it's a meaningless statistic. In the Electoral College, the only metric that matters, it's looking as if Trump will lose either close to or exactly the same margin by which he won in 2016.
But Trump is still the GOP. And the GOP is Trump.
Despite being the first incumbent president voted out of office in nearly three decades — a "loser" in Trump parlance —he will almost certainly remain the influential Republican for years.
The GOP that he hijacked in 2016 has no coalition of principled lawmakers who stood in opposition to his big government, trade protectionist, alliance-destroying administration. They all sold out to "Dear Orange Man" as job security to hold on to their precious seats, and he's still more popular to the Republican base — he won more votes in 2020 than any Republican candidate has in a single election — than they are.
Trump's not going to be any more gracious a loser than he's been a winner. Thus he's got no incentive not to burn down every remaining democratic norm on his way out of office.
Instead of graciously accepting that he lost — which even Trump sycophant and Fox News host Laura Ingraham has advised he do — Trump is going to fight tooth and nail to prove a baseless conspiracy theory of multistate voter fraud and mass-media narrative collusion.
He's not going to win any lawsuit proving something that doesn't exist, but through his Twitter feed and right-wing media he'll successfully plant the brain-worm that the "deep state" stole the election from him and handed it to "Grandpa Antifa" or something equally absurd.
For good measure, he'll continue to separate willful dupes from their money, as Trump campaign manager Bill Stepian on Saturday begged donors for money to "support rallies and other things we are propping up."
At the same time, the Trump campaign won't commit to pay its share for a recount in Wisconsin. That, as they say in poker, is a tell. When the aggressive bettor across the table suddenly stops raising, you know he's bluffing.
He lost. He's a loser. He's fired.
But he's still the most powerful person in the world for a little more than the next two months.
So expect him to continue to exploit the office, and the American people, for every available resource.
Expect him to pardon his criminal allies (just as Democrats have in the past) and maybe he'll even try to preemptively pardon himself. Many of his political appointees may miraculously find themselves in career government positions.
It's very possible he could once again break precedent from previous US presidents and allow scandal-draped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make another land grab. And two months is plenty of time to issue executive orders on just about anything, which he's done with greater frequency than any president since fellow one-termer Jimmy Carter.
Trump doesn't care about the country he will soon no longer govern, and he won't even have the grace and decency to wish his successor well, a hallmark of American democracy.
His most loyal followers will bow at the knee of his ability to upset people and continue to say all this norm-shattering and sore-losering is right and good.
A lame-duck Trump is a Trump with all the power and none of the accountability.
He can, and likely will, leave a noticeable gash on the country as a parting gift. Because Trump has no ambitions besides winning and vengeance.
Trump is for Trump, as he always has and always will be. Prepare for a couple more months of dumpster fire.
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