This article represents the culmination of an idea for which I laid the groundwork in my previous two articles. In “The real reason William Barr is committing crimes for Donald Trump,” I posited that Attorney General William Barr appears to be wholly unconcerned about the legal peril he has placed himself in – by lying to Congress, by obstructing justice, and so on – and that he told lies that he fully knew would be easy to discover and identify as lies. I suggested we ought to be worried about why he appears so counterintuitively unworried about all this, and so we should.
In my penultimate article, “There is nothing magic about Donald Trump,” I give evidence to the effect that Donald Trump possesses no special powers of charisma, that he has cast no spell over anyone, that everything everyone does for Trump they do with clear-eyed, self-aware volition. If anything, Donald Trump is so repellant a human being personally that most political operatives and insiders would find the idea of falling on their swords for him positively laughable. No one in Washington loves Donald Trump. He is only loved by people who don’t know him, which is largely his idiot base.
What’s more, what little political capital Donald Trump may have had at one time is draining away. As an incumbent his prospects for reelection are appallingly low. The five point lead most incumbents enjoy is turning into a fifteen point deficit. The 2018 blue wave phenomenon ought to have Republican teeth chattering about the chances for Trump in 2020.
With all that laid as groundwork, I am now going to tell you something that you’re not going to like. It is beginning to look as if, for these reasons and more, we very well may not be getting rid of Donald Trump quite so easily in 2020. We have, in short, some very explicit and darkly plausible scenarios to consider.
In his closing statement to the congressional oversight committee, Michael Cohen darkly hinted that there will be no easy transition if Trump loses in 2020. We have to consider this as a very real possibility, and that Trump and his people are formulating a plan to remain no matter the outcome of the election, or even should he be impeached and convicted. The Religious Right and the Alt Right have control of America just now, and they want to keep it that way – forever.
Before you say, “wait a minute, if he loses the election or is ejected from office by impeachment they’ll just march into the Oval Office and drag him out,” consider this: who will? Who will drag him out? There is no mechanism, let alone a precedent, for forcibly removing the presidential incumbent from the Oval Office. Who do you get? Someone from the Army? Scary though it may be, Donald Trump outranks every military officer in the United States. The Secret Service? Their job is to protect the president, not arrest him. The DC Police? Oh, come on.
Meanwhile we have a malignant narcissist in the Oval who doesn’t believe anything he doesn’t want to believe, and that disbelief could easily extend to the outcome of an election or the unfavorable result of an impeachment vote. He also knows that ejection from office might mean spending the rest of his life in prison. And he has absolutely no respect for the rule of law. And he has the biggest army in the world at his command. And he has one third of the population of America on his side. And he has the launch codes for more nuclear weapons than anyone else on the planet and has expressed an eagerness to use them. And the Global Warming time bomb is ticking. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem. And the fact that we have no plausible exit strategy to dislodge Donald Trump from the White House ought to be a worrying concern for us all. I hope I’m wrong. But what if I’m not?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.