October 17, 2020

Should America Do A Dirty Deal With Trump to Get Rid of Him?

Should America Do A Dirty Deal With Trump to Get Rid of Him?

You know the scenario already. Late on election night, or in the days right after, Joe Biden appears to be the clear winner of the presidential election. But President Trump, who already has told his supporters that the only way Biden can win is through electoral fraud, files a series of lawsuits contesting ballots in various swing states. He’s backed by his attorney general Bill Barr and the power of the U.S. Justice Department, and by Republican Members of Congress, governors, legislators, and secretaries of state. His lawyers are slated to appear before courts dominated by Republican-appointed state and federal judges, many of the latter picked by Trump himself. The hundreds of pages of legal arguments mustered by Trump’s fancy Federalist Society-minted lawyers are backed by slick TV ads paid for by wealthy Trump backers, MAGA street protests, Q-Anon conspiracy and Russia-directed Internet traffic, and armed right-wing militia groups.

There’s been some talk, and even some simulations, pointing to major civil unrest in the event of such an election dispute. But there’s another unsettling possibility: a dirty deal where Trump gets things he wants in exchange for dropping his lawsuits and vacating the White House on inauguration day. 

Imagine Trump is advised that he is far behind in the vote count. He may know he has a solid conservative majority in the ultimate legal forum, the U.S. Supreme Court, with the latest, and perhaps most far-right justice, Amy Coney Barrett, now installed. But Trump might see the advantages of seeking the best way out, rather than rolling the dice that the high court will ratify his specious arguments about voter fraud.

What kind of deal?  A former president Trump would face some very serious challenges. According to the recent New York Times investigation, he faces a potential reckoning of some $100 million in taxes and fines from the IRS, and another $400 in loans to his businesses, coming due, that he was required to personally guarantee. He and his children also face ongoing criminal investigation of their businesses from Manhattan’s district attorney, and other potential state and federal probes for bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, and other crimes.

What if intermediaries for Trump offered a global deal to career federal law enforcement officials, state prosecutors, and representatives of the Biden team? Trump drops his lawsuits contesting the election, and in return Trump and his family get immunity from prosecution by the Justice Department, New York, and other states of concern; the IRS drops its case and lets Trump keep the disputed cash; and a means is found to pay off the banks and other creditors to whom Trump is in debt.

This would be a dirty, corrupt deal, reminiscent of ugly politics in developing nations — reflective of the awful place where Trump already has brought our nation. It would be dressed up somehow as a series of legitimate settlements.  Maybe taxpayers could be spared some of the expense, with a kind benefactor stepping in to pay off Trump’s debts. Michael Bloomberg certainly comes to mind. 

There are other things that could be thrown into the mix: Trump would probably like to have some cash to settle the mounting civil lawsuits against him arising from allegations of sexual assault, violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause by making money off being president, and other matters. On the other side, authorities might want an agreement that Trump won’t run for president again, or run a publicly traded company, or operate a charitable foundation.

Ridiculous? How many ridiculous things have we witnessed since 2015? Do you think Trump wouldn’t consider such a deal? He would. Would the deal be disgraceful, immoral, outrageous, destructive, and debasing, setting a horrible precedent for the future? Sure. But if we really want to get rid of Trump, would you consider it? 

There would be other benefits. A broke Trump would be a desperate Trump, and if his debt is not relieved, it increases the likelihood that this wholly corrupt, amoral grifter sells classified secrets to the highest bidders, including  Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and other foreign nations.  But frankly, Trump may end up trying to sell those secrets no matter what, and maybe all we can do is hope that law enforcement action heads that off — or that Trump really didn’t pay attention to the details of U.S. secrets and intelligence capabilities and will remember little.

To be clear, I would be firmly against this kind of crooked bargain, because even with the sharp turn right in the Supreme Court that will come if Amy Coney Barrett takes Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, and even with the disturbing historical precedent of the Court’s 2000 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore, I would prefer litigation, hoping that Chief Justice John Roberts won’t allow his court to become another naked outpost of Trump corruption. I think I feel that way. 

I also don’t believe Biden and team would ever accept such a deal, which, no matter how much its corrupt contours were concealed, would taint our country and the incoming administration. The New York attorney general, Manhattan district attorney, and other prosecutors would have similar concerns. 

But I was surprised to see, when I posted this question on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday, how many people I respect said, take the deal. People want to get rid of this guy real bad. So, I guess, as someone often says, we’ll see what happens.