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The President has survived one impeachment, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. That run of good luck may well end.

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Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose
The President has survived one impeachment, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. That run of good luck may well end.

The President was despondent. Sensing that time was running out, he had asked his aides to draw up a list of his political options.

He wasn’t especially religious, but, as daylight faded outside the rapidly emptying White House, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet.

“What have I done?” he said. “What has happened?”

When the President Richard Nixon noted that the military could make it easy for him by leaving a pistol in a desk drawer, the chief of staff called the President’s doctors and ordered that all sleeping pills and tranquillizers be taken away from him, to insure that he wouldn’t have the means to kill himself.

The downfall of Richard Nixon, in the summer of 1974, was, as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relate in “The Final Days,” one of the most dramatic in American history.

That August, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon—who had been cornered by self-incriminating White House tape recordings, and faced impeachment and removal from office—to resign.

Twenty-nine individuals closely tied to his Administration were subsequently indicted, and several of his top aides and advisers, including his Attorney General, John Mitchell, went to prison.

Nixon himself, however, escaped prosecution because his successor, Gerald Ford, granted him a pardon, in September, 1974.

No American President has ever been charged with a criminal offense.

But, as Donald Trump fights to hold on to the White House, he and those around him surely know that if he loses—an outcome that nobody should count on—the presumption of immunity that attends the Presidency will vanish.

Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently under way, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Nixon.

The Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said of Trump, “If he loses, you have a situation that’s not dissimilar to that of Nixon when he resigned. Nixon spoke of the cell door clanging shut.”

Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits.

Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Joe Biden. Even if Trump wins, grave legal and financial threats will loom over his second term.

Two of the investigations into Trump are being led by powerful state and city law-enforcement officials in New York.

Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, are independently pursuing potential criminal charges related to Trump’s business practices before he became President.

Because their jurisdictions lie outside the federal realm, any indictments or convictions resulting from their actions would be beyond the reach of a Presidential pardon.

Trump’s legal expenses alone are likely to be daunting. (By the time Bill Clinton left the White House, he’d racked up more than ten million dollars in legal fees.)

And Trump’s finances are already under growing strain.

During the next four years, according to a stunning recent Times report, Trump—whether reëlected or not—must meet payment deadlines for more than three hundred million dollars in loans that he has personally guaranteed; much of this debt is owed to such foreign creditors as Deutsche Bank.

Unless he can refinance with the lenders, he will be on the hook.

The Financial Times, meanwhile, estimates that, in all, about nine hundred million dollars’ worth of Trump’s real-estate debt will come due within the next four years.

At the same time, he is locked in a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over a deduction that he has claimed on his income-tax forms; an adverse ruling could cost him an additional hundred million dollars.

To pay off such debts, the President, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be two and a half billion dollars, could sell some of his most valuable real-estate assets—or, as he has in the past, find ways to stiff his creditors.

But, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Trump’s properties—especially his hotels and resorts—have been hit hard by the pandemic and the fallout from his divisive political career.

“It’s the office of the Presidency that’s keeping him from prison and the poorhouse,” Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale who studies authoritarianism, told me.

The White House declined to answer questions for this article, and if Trump has made plans for a post-Presidential life he hasn’t shared them openly.

A business friend of his from New York said, “You can’t broach it with him. He’d be furious at the suggestion that he could lose.”

In better times, Trump has revelled in being President. Last winter, a Cabinet secretary told me Trump had confided that he couldn’t imagine returning to his former life as a real-estate developer.

As the Cabinet secretary recalled, the two men were gliding along in a motorcade, surrounded by throngs of adoring supporters, when Trump remarked, “Isn’t this incredible? After this, I could never return to ordering windows. It would be so boring.”

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Trump’s national poll numbers have lagged behind Biden’s, and two sources who have spoken to the President in the past month described him as being in a foul mood.

He has testily insisted that he won both Presidential debates, contrary to even his own family’s assessment of the first one.

And he has raged not just at the polls and the media but also at some people in charge of his reëlection campaign, blaming them for squandering money and allowing Biden’s team to have a significant financial advantage.

Trump’s bad temper was visible on October 20th, when he cut short a “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl. A longtime observer who spent time with him recently told me that he’d never seen Trump so angry.

The President’s niece Mary Trump—a psychologist and the author of the tell-all memoir “Too Much and Never Enough”—told me that his fury “speaks to his desperation,” adding, “He knows that if he doesn’t manage to stay in office he’s in serious trouble. I believe he’ll be prosecuted, because it seems almost undeniable how extensive and long his criminality is.

If it doesn’t happen at the federal level, it has to happen at the state level.” She described the “narcissistic injury” that Trump will suffer if he is rejected at the polls.

Within the Trump family, she said, “losing was a death sentence—literally and figuratively.” Her father, Fred Trump, Jr., the President’s older brother, “was essentially destroyed” by her grandfather’s judgment that Fred was not “a winner.” (Fred died in 1981, of complications from alcoholism.)

As the President ponders potential political defeat, she believes, he is “a terrified little boy.”

Running from the law:

Barbara Res, whose new book, “Tower of Lies,” draws on the eighteen years that she spent, off and on, developing and managing construction projects for Trump, also thinks that the President is not just running for a second term—he is running from the law.

“One of the reasons he’s so crazily intent on winning is all the speculation that prosecutors will go after him,” she said.

“It would be a very scary spectre.” She calculated that, if Trump loses, “he’ll never, ever acknowledge it—he’ll leave the country.”

Res noted that, at a recent rally, Trump mused to the crowd about fleeing, ad-libbing, “Could you imagine if I lose? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country—I don’t know.”

It’s questionable how realistic such talk is, but Res pointed out that Trump could go “live in one of his buildings in another country,” adding, “He can do business from anywhere.”

It turns out that, in 2016, Trump in fact made plans to leave the United States right after the vote.

Anthony Scaramucci, the former Trump supporter who served briefly as the White House communications director, was with him in the hours before the polls closed.

Scaramucci told me that Trump and virtually everyone in his circle had expected Hillary Clinton to win.

According to Scaramucci, as he and Trump milled around Trump Tower, Trump asked him, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

When Scaramucci said that he had no plans, Trump confided that he had ordered his private plane to be readied for takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport, so that the next morning he could fly to Scotland, to play golf at his Turnberry resort.

Trump’s posture, Scaramucci told me, was to shrug off the expected defeat.

“It was, like, O.K., he did it for the publicity. And it was over. He was fine. It was a waste of time and money, but move on.” Scaramucci said that, if 2016 is any guide, Trump would treat a loss to Biden more matter-of-factly than many people expect:

“He’ll go down easier than most people think. Nothing crushes this guy.”

Mary Trump, like Res, suspects that her uncle is considering leaving the U.S. if he loses the election (a result that she regards as far from assured).

If Biden wins, she suggested, Trump will “describe himself as the best thing that ever happened to this country and say, ‘It doesn’t deserve me—I’m going to do something really important, like build the Trump Tower in Moscow.’ ”

The notion that a former American President would go into exile—like a disgraced king or a deposed despot—sounds almost absurd, even in this heightened moment, and many close observers of the President, including Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s first best-seller, “The Art of the Deal,” dismiss the idea.

“I’m sure he’s terrified,” Schwartz told me. “But I don’t think he’ll leave the country. Where the hell would he go?”

However, Snyder, the Yale professor, whose specialty is antidemocratic regimes in Eastern Europe, believes that Trump might well abscond to a foreign country that has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

“Unless you’re an idiot, you have that flight plan ready,” Snyder said. “Everyone’s telling me he’ll have a show on Fox News. I think he’ll have a show on RT”—the Russian state television network.

'From Remote LNN Site' | Video Story By : Staff-Editor-02

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