When Donald Trump tried to make a joke last night about leaving the country if he loses the election, it gave away that he’s at least imagining a scenario in which he flees the country to avoid criminal prosecution. But this could end up being an even worse result for Trump than simply being arrested and put on trial.
If Trump allows himself to be arrested after he loses, there’s a good chance the judge will give him house arrest while he awaits trial. His trial could take a year or two before it happens, particularly if Trump and his lawyers make the strategic decision to drag it out as long as possible. And let’s be real here, in the shape Trump is in, he probably only has a couple years left in his natural lifespan anyway.
So why would Trump want to go on the lam in a foreign country, while sick and frail, living in a safe house without any money to his name, and knowing that he’ll only be on safe ground for as the leader of that country finds him useful? What happens if Trump goes to Russia, and six months later Putin gets tired of him, or Putin is ousted? The more logical decision for Trump would be to take his chances with the U.S. legal system, and gamble that by the time he’s finally sent to solitary confinement, he’ll be at or near the end of his natural lifespan anyway.
Of course the real trouble for Donald Trump is that neither of these scenarios are exactly good. This is a man who has spent his entire life living in borrowed luxury, carrying out an impostor’s version of a wealthy life. He just spent the past four years living for free in the White House. And now, if we turn and vote in proper numbers, he’ll have to choose whether to flee the country or stay here and rot under house arrest as his assets are stripped from him. It doesn’t get much uglier than that.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report