Opinion: Lame-duck President Trump might wreak havoc until January

Posted on November 09, 2020, 5:30 pm
7 mins

The chaotic state of affairs following the election has produced an air of uncertainty. Donald Trump, has thus far, refused to concede the election, a departure from his predecessors. The US left the Paris climate accord on Wednesday, further increasing difficulties for the President-Elect, Joe Biden. As if that was not enough, the coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the country, with experts warning that the US may be headed towards a devastating winter. Trump has even suggested that he may fire Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert in infectious diseases.

Analysts believe that the 11 weeks following Trump’s defeat may be the most turbulent period in US history before Biden is inaugurated on 20 January. Trump, given his temperament, lack of maturity and empathy, might very well choose to unleash chaos for the remainder of his time as president.

“If Trump loses power he’ll spend his last 90 days wrecking the United States like a malicious child with a sledgehammer in a china shop,” said Malcolm Nance, a veteran intelligence analyst and political author, speaking before the outcome of the election was broadcasted.

“We’re likely to see the greatest political temper tantrum in history. He may decide he wants to go out with a bang, he may decide he will not accept the election result. Who knows what a cornered autocrat will do?”

Nance’s apprehensions are extrapolated based on Trump’s past behavior. The lame duck president might try to push his executive and constitutional powers to the limit as the legal and financial pressures build.

“He’ll pardon himself. Absolutely no question about that,” Nance said. “He expects the supreme court to cover for him. He has always fixed things in his life, and he now believes he owns the American judicial system.”

There also remains a possibility of civil unrest. Trump, during one of the presidential debates, refused to criticize the Proud Boys, a far right movement that has been involved in violence. He instructed the white supremacist group to ”stand by and stand down,” implying there is a possibility that he might issue a call-to-arms.

“All these 100-truck convoys may start marching like they’re going into Mosul,” he said. “It’s like an insurgency. We’re going to find out … whether they rise up en masse and say we don’t accept this, Donald Trump’s our man, and they start parading and taking over boards of elections.”

Trump could also decide to pardon his associates who have broken the law.  Among them are his former campaign chair Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon, the planner of Trump’s 2016 victory currently being charged with fraud.

Investigations into Trump’s own financial dealings might also be a source of distress for the one-term president. The Manhattan district attorney has been looking into Trump and his businesses’ financial dealings for potential criminal bank and insurance fraud, but has been unable to take any action while he is in office.

Bill Barr, the attorney general who has been accused of being a stand-in personal lawyer for Trump, will not be there to protect him against whatever legal consequences await once he vacates the White House.

“He’s a compromised person, a broken asset of a foreign power, and has been under the thrall, the pay, or most likely the debt of Vladimir Putin,” Nance said. “Anything which benefits him personally, anything that benefits what he believes is his brand, he will do.”

Other analysts concur.

“Trump will likely spend his last months in a flurry of self-dealing, tossing out pardons and trying to discredit his opponents and the system itself,” Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and chair of the Human Rights Foundation, said in an opinion piece for CNN.

“Americans who want to see the rule of law restored and strengthened must be ready to fight for it, in the courts and in the streets if necessary, peacefully but persistently, because there is little doubt that Trump and his supporters will not go quietly.”

Some, on the contrary, believe that the fear of imprisonment may stop Trump from doing further damage.

“What will stop him is fear of prison,” Stuart Stevens, a veteran Republican consultant, told Salon. “Why has the postmaster general kind of backtracked?” Stevens asked of Louis DeJoy, the Republican donor who many think was appointed in an attempt to disrupt the mail-in vote. “He does not want to go to jail. He’s willing to do a lot of stuff for Trump, but he didn’t want to go to jail. That fear is what would stop Trump.”

It remains to be seen what course of action Trump now takes. It is, however, certain that he will avoid looking like a failure.

“I’ve had a lot of experience with autocrats, despots and third-world potentates, so I got to see how these people behave,” Nance said.

“There’s been a change in the way autocrats and wannabe autocrats like Donald Trump have ended their careers. In the old days, if you weren’t killed by your political foes, you took a billion dollars, went off to the French Riviera, and disappeared. They just went off the stage.

“Now they no longer want to do that. They want to have all of their money and remain in power, and spend the money. Who knows with Donald Trump?”

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