One of the more frequent questions I get these days is whether Donald Trump will attempt to flee the country. With the news that Trump is bailing out for Mar-a-Lago this week, the question has popped up again. The short answer is that it’s ultimately up to him, and we have no way of knowing for sure what’s in his head at this point. But if I had to bet, I’d bet against it.
When people attempt to flee the country to avoid criminal prosecution, it’s not glamorous, like in the movies. Jurisdiction and extradition come into play, and next thing you know, you’re living on a mattress in the basement of some foreign embassy, like Assange. Is this how a privileged softie like Trump wants to risk spending his final few years? I doubt it.
Even if Trump made it all the way to a place like Russia, would Russia have much use for him at this point? Putin might want to parade him around, but then Trump would really just be Putin’s property. That’s not how a narcissist like Trump wants to live. And if the reports of Putin’s pending retirement turn out to be true, then Trump’s safety could be in danger.
The reality is that while Trump will certainly end up being sentenced to prison in New York State, and may face federal criminal charges on top of it, these things take time. If Trump can convince a judge to give him house arrest at Mar-a-Lago while he drags out his trial date, he’d certainly find that preferable to living in an embassy basement scenario.
There’s also the question of whether Trump really can flee from a logistical standpoint. He’d have to set up a summit near the end of his term as an excuse to travel overseas, and everyone would know what he was up to. Could he then just send Air Force One and his Secret Service detail home, and stay in that foreign country? It all seems a bit unlikely.
Trump also has a consistent tendency to indecisively put off decisions until it’s too late, and circumstances have made the decision for him, and then overreact in panicked fashion once it’s too late to matter. In other words, he’s the kind of guy who would tepidly miss his window for fleeing the country while he’s still in office, only to then later decide that he wants to flee, but not be able to do so.
We’ll see. But my guess is that Donald Trump will aim for house arrest ahead of trial, and that he’s arrogant enough to think he can beat the charges at trial anyway. He’s wrong about that; the financial charges against him in New York will be cut and dry. But Trump always thinks he can weasel his way out of such things. Why flee, if you delusionally expect to get acquitted anyway?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report