The question keeps popping up, in the media and across social media: if Donald Trump is so clearly unhappy being president, why is he even bothering to run for a second term? He’s the kingof self-delusion, so he could easily convince himself that he accomplished so much in his first term, he doesn’t need a second one. Here’s the thing, though: he can’t not seek a second term.
We don’t know for sure if Trump truly wants another term. Perhaps he likes the prestige, despite hating the job. He surely likes being able to use the office to pick the nation’s pockets. And for all we know, Vladimir Putin may have told him he should run again. But even if none of the above is enough to convince Trump to seek a second term, there’s one ironclad reason why he absolutely has to seek re-election: his life is over if he doesn’t.
Donald Trump is absolutely, 100% certain, without any shadow of a doubt, going to be arrested the minute he’s no longer in office. The fatalists go completely off the deep end whenever I bring this up, which is probably why you don’t hear a ton of other pundits bringing it up either. But it’s just a fact. New York State has a widely documented grand jury targeting Trump for indictment. The only reason he hasn’t been arrested yet is that he’s still in office.
So if Donald Trump doesn’t seek re-election, or if he loses in 2020, he’ll be arrested – for the kind of cut and dry financial crimes that always result in conviction. No, Trump can’t just magically stay in office if he loses. No, he can’t magically cancel the election. No, he can’t just magically avoid arrest by never going back to New York. This is the real world, where no one ever has a magic wand.
Donald Trump has to seek re-election because otherwise he’ll spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement. Trump’s inevitable arrest is not only driving his re-election bid, it’s also a factor in just about every single move he’s making at this point. Most pundits are understandably afraid to discuss this for fear of incurring the wrath of the fatalists, who will accuse them of “pushing fantasies” and “selling false hope” for daring to point out that Trump isn’t just automatically going to get away with it all. But we should be discussing Trump’s inevitable arrest as part of every major storyline about him, because it plays at least an ancillary role in every one of those storylines.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report