[guest post by Dana]
There are a host of reasons why Trump doesn’t want to leave office, including this:
After Jan. 20, Trump, who has refused to concede and is fighting to hold onto his office, will be more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the president’s family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.
The two-year inquiry, the only known active criminal investigation of Trump, has been stalled since last fall when the president sued to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other records, a bitter dispute that for the second time is before the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is expected soon.
Trump has contended that the investigation by the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, is a politically motivated fishing expedition. But if the Supreme Court rules that Vance is entitled to the records, and he uncovers possible crimes, Trump could face a reckoning with law enforcement — further inflaming political tensions and raising the startling specter of a criminal conviction, or even prison, for a former president.
“He’ll never have more protection from Vance than he has right now,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas.
“Vance has been the wild card here,” Vladeck added. “And there is very little that even a new administration that wants to let bygones be bygones could do formally to stop him.”
Possible avenues of
self-protection, um, action:
…Trump will issue pardons to his immediate family and whoever else he may feel a residual loyalty to.
…Trump will be told by his attorneys that he has no option to pardon himself. He probably has already been told this. The worst case for Trump, both legally and politically, is that he tries to pardon himself, creates a wave of national outrage, and his pardon of himself is overturned by the courts.
…Trump will resign from the presidency before his term officially ends, and he will be pardoned by Vice President Pence, when Pence becomes president.
A presidential pardon by Pence would not offer protection from cases originating in states, but those cases will be far more manageable if they are not sunk into a morass of federal cases that only a federal pardon can protect him from.
The biggest issue is that Trump must obtain a pardon for federal offenses, which he can only achieve if he resigns the presidency early and is granted a pardon by Pence. Without a federal pardon, it is almost guaranteed that Trump will spend much of the coming years mired in federal cases that could pose grave legal risks for him and create problems for executing any multibillion-dollar business deal.
It’s interesting, if not exhausting, watching this new phase of Trump’s Trumpian struggle: retain power, avoid prosecution, and keep ardent supporters fired-up enough that they will faithfully contribute to his new political PAC. Trapped in a complex web spun by self-indulgence and his own poor decision making. Sad!