On Monday, reports surfaced that a plane sometimes used by Donald Trump is scheduled to fly to Scotland on January 19, which is a day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Naturally, speculation immediately arose that Trump himself would be on that plane in an unprecedented attempt to very literally distance himself from Washington, D.C. While we cannot say with certainty that Trump will be going on this plane, it seems likely in my opinion.
What makes me say that? Well, if Trump is abroad the moment he becomes a regular citizen again (inasmuch as Trump can be “regular” in any capacity), then he couldn’t be hauled off in a paddy wagon or easily served with lawsuits. What’s more, as the linked article notes, Trump could have decided to fly to Scotland on the 19th to avail himself of his access to taxpayer money to fund at least the first half of the trip. Trump certainly wouldn’t have access to Air Force One this late in the game, and if I were him, I would rather try to sneak out at least somewhat less conspicuously than in the most identifiable passenger plane in existence. I certainly wouldn’t put that past Trump to go down this route. Notably, Scotland itself may see it the same way, as it announced today that Trump isn’t permitted to visit.
All of that to me rings of realistic, if not true. Perhaps the bigger question some people have is whether he intends to just flee to another country full stop after his time in Scotland. Russia, perhaps. Well, I’m not too certain about that, but it is at least somewhat possible that Trump knows he faces so much legal trouble in the US after his presidency that he decided to try to evade all of it by becoming an expat. Nothing screams “innocent” quite like fleeing the country you just finished running in the style of a Balkan war criminal.
Even if Trump does ultimately intend to come back to the US, I think there is some merit in the argument that he could try to negotiate with any potential prosecutors “from a distance,” i.e., in a country where he could be safe from extradition. Maybe he would feel safer from jail and loan officers if he were a few time zones away from them. We’ll know soon enough but whatever the case, I think Trump world has interesting month ahead.