Donald Trump
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

There is angst among many Americans right now that President Donald Trump might win a second term. But maybe they should be more worried about what would happen if he loses by a narrow margin.

The things that make Trump a terrible president would make him an even worse loser of an election: He lies a lot, is corrupt, loves crazy conspiracy theories, allows foreign powers to undermine the US if it benefits him, will do anything to protect himself — even to the detriment of the country — and a sizable segment of the population follows him religiously and believes every word that is coming out of his mouth.

Perhaps most importantly, there is a really good chance that he is going to be indicted once he leaves office. That’s certainly how more than 1,000 (!) former prosecutors feel who served Republican and Democratic administrations.

That is one of the reasons why Trump has been “joking” about extending his first term or serving more than two.

So here is how it’s going to go if Trump loses by a few electoral votes, e.g. if Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania flip back to the Democratic candidate:

  1. Trump will tweet that there were large numbers of “illegals” who voted and that it is the sole reason he lost.
  2. Fox News, talk radio, and right-wing websites will immediately repeat this as though it is gospel.
  3. Only some of the other news outlets will point out in their headlines that there is absolutely no evidence to support Trump’s claims.
  4. Trump allies in Congress will also question the outcome of the results.
  5. The media will catch on to the fact that Trump may be indicted as soon as he leaves office. The president will watch this during extensive “executive time” and realize that he can never retreat from this fight or he’ll end up in prison. At no time will he consider putting country before self.
  6. He will post dozens of increasingly unhinged tweets (see 2 and 3). Any story on his defeat will be labeled “Fake News.”
  7. Russia will immediately dispatch a bot army and buy Facebook ads to seize this opportunity and sow further discord among Americans.
  8. The White House will essentially shut down as Trump is consumed by this.
  9. Expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to weigh in on how the outcome of the election seemed fishy. And every one of the other despots the president has been courting will support him.
  10. Experts will point out why Trump is wrong and they will change nobody’s mind.
  11. There will be competing demonstrations. The president will encourage his supporters to hit the streets. He already hinted that there would be violence if Democrats investigate him too much, so just imagine what he will ask his supporters to do in this case.
  12. Plenty of people who take to the streets will be armed.
  13. Things will slowly spiral out of control.
  14. For the first time in US history, there won’t be an orderly and peaceful transition of power.
  15. The stock market will tank because Wall Street does not like uncertainty. Trump will claim that this is because he might leave office and his supporters will believe they need to go to any lengths to “protect” their country.
  16. From that point on, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen, but it won’t be pretty.

This isn’t even the worst case scenario. That one involves the military and mayhem everywhere. We pride ourselves on seeing things ahead of time, but this is the one occasion when we hope we won’t have to say: “We told you so.” However, there is nothing in Trump’s behavior that gives us any confidence at all that he’ll go quietly… unless he loses in a landslide.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), body (The White House / Flickr), Presidential Seal (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 2.0), and background (Obama White House – Flickr).

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from The White House / Wikimedia.


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Vegas Vic
Vegas Vic
2 years ago

Certainly no fan of The Great Cheeto myself, but come on…spend much time in the real world? Why would Putin come to TGC’s defense? Because he’s been so happy with the economic warfare initiated by the US? That he’s had to be the grown up in the room and keep some sanity re: Syria, Venezuela and Iran? If TGC is a puppet, then Putin sure isn’t pulling the right strings. In every Presidential election one side or the other alleges that people voted who shouldn’t have, or that people who were eligible were denied access. Despite the grand proclamations of the pervasiveness of either (or both!), the truth is that the cumulative total of all proven cases of fraud/disenfranchisement are limited to a few thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of votes. Yeah, it’s an uncomfortable number, but in the context that between 45 and 55 percent of eligible voters DON’T vote for either wing of the singular party, so what? Oh, and #6 sure required some investigation and deep thought…come on, TGC’s tweets have been increasingly unhinged propaganda since the day Ivanka downloaded the app to his Nokia flip phone. I’d like to further point by point, but I’ll try to live by the rules and keep it short as possible.

2 years ago

Who benefits from all the madness?

Ron Reed
Ron Reed
2 years ago

Why would he be more likely to “go quietly” if he “loses in a landslide”? He’d still face indictment, and, if anything, he would simply howl all the louder about the election’s being “fixed.” Also, since there is evidence that he and the Republicans stole the 2016 election [see New York Times columnist Bill Palmer’s blog from late November 2016 for the details and argument], if it’s close enough to steal, why wouldn’t the Republicans, who specialize in owning voting machines with untraceable proprietary software, and who have likely stolen votes in every single election since 2000, simply steal that one for Trump as well? After all, whether they privately detest Trump or not, he provides the signal distraction whenever they need it, to draw attention away from their serial crimes.

2 years ago

Trump and his cult are the biggest threat to America

Neil Fabricant
Neil Fabricant
2 years ago

You’ve written about the worst case scenario; it makes sense to envision the best case scenario and try to determine how it might be brought about.

It’s true that even if defeated after an election, the forces he’s unleashed won’t be easily contained, especially if he’s still around to lead them. A House Impeachment is possible but unlikely. Senate conviction is less likely. Thus far, the feckless Democrats are no match for the Salesman/Leader, the ruthless Republicans, the armed and dangerous racists and degenerates who make up a considerable segment of The Base, and the opaque foreign and domestic forces who are stirring this roiling, boiling stewpot of fear, rage and resentment.

A Democratic win in 2020, though possible, is only that. Doubtless, there will be a massive effort by these same forces to rig it.

A federal indictment of Trump by William Barr’s DOJ? Ironically, he’s Trump’s biggest potential threat. But whenever I see him, he bring to mind Orwell’s, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”

The best case scenario is that Trump goes to prison with his family and his collaborators. But I’m mindful that jailing one’s political opponents–though it’s clear that’s what he wants and intends to do to his opponents, is a dangerous idea: one of America’s enduring virtues is the peaceful transition of government (note-“government,” not power.) So even assuming a Democratic victory in 2020, a post-election indictment and conviction after trial, even if it could be obtained, is problematic.

I suppose I’m burying the lead, so here’s the idea

The best-case scenario for removing Trump and limiting his influence out of office is, in my view, a pre-election presentation to a Grand Jury that returns an indictment that befits the magnitude of the crimes he’s committed and the office he holds.

I assume—as do we all — overwhelming evidence of tax fraud, insurance fraud, bank fraud, money laundering on a global scale, pedophilia, forcible rape, etc. and multiple felony counts within each of these categories.

I can envision only one way such an indictment can be returned: a New York State prosecution brought by Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney. Vance has the power to bring such an indictment. He doesn’t answer to Trump. He doesn’t answer to Barr. He is elected solely by anti-Trump Manhattan voters. He will face them in 2021.

The Department of Justice legal opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted has never been tested in court, and whether it applies to a state prosecution adds another level of uncertainty. So before trial, the case likely would be decided in the Supreme Court.

Would Trump Take His Chances?

We can be certain that the prospect of indictment, let alone conviction and prison, terrifies Trump, Kushner, Ivanka, and the rest of this fourth-generation crime family. Yes, he might take his chances with the courts; he might not. But even if he did and the Supreme Court blocked the prosecution, the very fact of an indictment by a Grand Jury, one that sets out a compelling recitation of the crimes, would be devastating.

The alternative to a jury trial, is a plea deal in exchange for no prison time. It would be accompanied by a full acknowledgement of guilt in a court proceeding. The Spiro Agnew model—on videotape. This is my ideal outcome—the best-case scenario.

Can Vance be Pressed to Bring an Indictment?

Vance has already taken much criticism for being soft on rich rapists with connections such as Harvey Weinstein and Dominique Strauss-Kahn—and for giving Donald Jr. and Ivanka a pass on Trump Soho. In each of these cases, legal experts and even the NYPD stated there was sufficient evidence to indict. E-mail exchanges involving Ivanka and Donald Jr. established fraudulent intent and the Major Economic Crimes Bureau was about to impanel a Grand Jury to hear the case. In all likelihood, they would have been indicted. Vance overruled his prosecutors.

Worse, Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer was one of Vance’s largest campaign contributors. In my lifetime there hasn’t been a Manhattan District Attorney as politically vulnerable as Cyrus Vance Jr.

As you know, he’s the son of Cyrus R. Vance, one of Washington’s “Wise Men.” A deputy secretary of defense and a secretary of state under Carter who resigned on principle. I won’t burden this comment with the details, but he was widely regarded as a man of great integrity.

Thus far, his son hasn’t measured up. He will definitely face a challenge in 2021. Assuming he wants another term—Manhattan DAs stay for life or go for higher office—think Hogan, Morgenthau, Dewey–he has to do something to resurrect his reputation. And this would make him a national hero—or at the very least, a hero to half the country, including especially his own constituents.

Far-fetched? I don’t think so. I think Vance is the best, most realistic approach to taking out Trump.

E. Jean Carrol’s forcible rape charge is accompanied by corroborating evidence. There is likely no statute of limitations. She has revealed the details and there are no questions of privacy. She has no choice but to testify. It should be ready for a Grand Jury right now. But that’s only a beginning: all the other crimes, with elements of them committed in Manhattan, are hiding in plain sight. Vance’s constituents have to press him to investigate.

And whether you live in Manhattan or not, you can forward all or any part of this to friends and urge them to do the same.

What remains of our Democracy is hanging by a thread. Removing Trump won’t fix what’s wrong with the country. But it can begin to turn us in a better direction. The rule of law and democratic politics are all we have; the only alternative is blood in the streets. And only fools, lunatics, and very possibly Trump himself want that.

Politicians pay attention to personal letters from their own constituents.

Wm. Boyce
Wm. Boyce
2 years ago

The bureaucracy and staff are not going to support a coup d’état of a president who has no friends. Congress hates and fears him – he’ll get no support from there either.
Let’s just hope he loses.

2 years ago

Let’s break this down. Four states will be the key in 2020. Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio. Minnesota, Michigan will vote democratic. Pennsylvania is a toss up and Ohio will vote for Trump. Will see how this plays out. I think people are fed up with the infighting. People want unity. If it takes a civil war so be it. Trump could have been a great President but his ego got in the way. This won’t end well for him. Remember the New York Attorney General is waiting. She doesn’t play.

2 years ago
Reply to  Stonch

on what planet was a serial fraud and grifter with a history of mismanagement ever going to be a “great president?” …

2 years ago
Reply to  Stonch

Aside from the tax bill that belongs to McConnell and the judiciary appointments which also belong to the marriage of McConnell and the Federalist Society, what exactly has Trump’s presidency produced aside from chaos: the Muslim ban (AKA his immigration policy), the fiasco at the border, the endless firings and resignations from his cabinet and in the upper echelons of the executive branch, the daily demonstrations that Trump hasn’t clue about international relations or trade (he is still claiming that China is paying the tariffs on its goods) and most of all Trump’s personal traits which have brought the presidency and this country to the lowest level I have known in my 75 years. What did you see in his Greenville rally with the “Send her back” chant that makes you think he ever could have been better than he has turned out. And if watching him bask in that chant, even worse was his lame claim that he tried to stop it. He is a fraud.

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