The post-presidency of Donald J. Trump

The post-presidency of Donald J. Trump
Source: Carlos Barria, Reuters
President Donald Trump is easily the most influential person in the Republican Party and he is almost certain to remain one of the most powerful people in the country well after he has left office.

Despite President Donald Trump’s continued refusal to admit he lost the presidential election, he still has many possibilities awaiting him once he leaves office on January 20, 2021. Trump possesses a cultlike following that is almost certain to seek him out in a new role, possibly on television, but the president is likely concerned about potential legal issues that await him following the presidency.

Trump News Network

It’s no secret that much of Trump’s success came from his time in front of the camera. From cameos in movies like the 1992 box office hit “Home Alone 2” to his time as the host of the television show “The Apprentice,” Trump gained not only fame and notoriety, but also a significant fortune.

After Fox News called Arizona for former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump, who long considered the news outlet a close alley, lashed out at Fox News, with many of his staff members calling the news network and demanding it reverse its projection.

Now, Axios is reporting that Trump plans to start his own digital media channel in order to “wreck Fox" in retaliation for not reversing their early call of Arizona. The plan, according to an anonymous source, is to take advantage of the huge phone and email database that the Trump campaign has collected and use it to send messages to Trump’s loyal supporters, urging them to subscribe to the new streaming source.

With competition already fierce, starting an entire news organization seems an unlikely route for Trump. Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive officer of the Fox Corporation, expressed confidence in Fox News’ position, saying, “We love competition. We have always thrived with competition … Fox News has been the number one network, including broadcast networks … from Labor Day through to Election Day.”

An easier route to television for the president to take would be to host a television show or become a paid contributor. Fox News, despite the ongoing battle, would be the best place for Trump, both for his popularity with viewers and for the money he could see. Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, all prime-time hosts, make eight-figure salaries while boasting an average of five million viewers a night in October. Choosing to work for Fox News would be smart, but would require both parties to come together.

The Trump Organization

Trump spent much of his time when he traveled through the country at his own luxury resorts, hotels and golf courses. Conflicts of interest aside, Trump still has many properties around the world. His commercial real estate, which includes commercial buildings, golf properties and branding businesses, is worth an estimated US$3.66 billion before debt. The running of these properties has taken second-fiddle to running the country, but it would be easy for Trump to get back to business in property management.

However, news of Deutsche Bank’s US$340 million loan to the Trump Organization leaves the organization in a tough spot. With the economy slowing down, hitting travel businesses like hotels and golf courses especially hard, the Trump Organization has struggled to pay back the loans, with Reuters reporting that the organization is so far only paying interest on them. Trump has personally guaranteed these loans, meaning the bank could potentially seize his assets.

Once President Trump leaves office, the legal immunity the presidency gives him will also be a thing of the past. Richard Ben-Veniste, former prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, believes “there’s no question that there are a number of active investigations that could implicate Donald Trump: private citizen, and lead to his indictment and prosecution.”

Whether Trump could possibly pardon himself from being indicted on federal crimes before leaving office is still actively debated, but there are several lawsuits and criminal allegations he will face after January.

Attorney Roberta Kaplan has three ongoing cases against Trump and with Attorney General William Barr leaving his post at the end of the Trump presidency as well, Trump will no longer be protected from indictment. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has worked to shut down the high-profile defamation suit from E. Jean Carroll, but after Biden is sworn-in on January 20, Kaplan believes this case will go ahead without interruption from the federal government.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” is also suing Trump for defamation. Zervos claims Trump sexually assaulted her on set and is suing him for calling her a “liar.” Additionally, Mary Trump, Donald Trump’s niece, is suing the president and his siblings for fraud related to an inheritance claim.

But most concerning for Trump are the state charges he can in no way grant himself a pardon to get out of. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance filed charges against Trump for tax fraud, insurance fraud and falsification of business records.

Without the presidency and his allies within the DOJ, Trump will no longer be able to avoid prosecution.

Trump 2024

There is, of course, the possibility that Trump runs for president again in 2024. CBS News reported that Trump’s advisers have said that the president has openly discussed running again. Many Republicans believe he would be the obvious front-runner in four years, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio telling The Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey that “If he runs in 2024, he’ll certainly be the front-runner, and then he’ll probably be the nominee.”

Even if he decides not to run, Trump will still have a powerful say in who the next Republican presidential candidate will be. As the most influential person in the Republican Party, he is almost certain to remain one of the most powerful people in the country well after he has left office.

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