Will he run in 2024? Will he set up a new Trump TV channel? Will he continue to dominate the Republican Party and Tweet it into loyal submission?
Any of the above possibilities are being regularly canvassed in the US. And after his 2016 win and the relative closeness of 2020 it would be unwise to make any firm prediction about what he might do and how successful he might be.
But what’s his likely future?
His first problem about leaving a further mark on the world is that by 2024 he will be the same age as Joe Biden is now. Under normal circumstances pitted against a normal candidate Biden may not have won partly because of doubts about his age and fitness. Trump would face the same problem himself when the next election rolls around.
The second problem is that potential Republican nominees are not going to sit around and give Trump a free pass to the nomination. He may currently have massive support in the Republican Party but that may be transient and no ambitious candidate, from Mark Rubio to some Republicans we have never even considered, is going to meekly say well Donald is the guy. Ambition will trump loyalty.
A third problem is what legal problems we will face. Sure he can try a self-pardon but, even if what he hopes will be a supine Supreme Court agreed, it would still only be for Federal crimes.
And so far the Supremes have been less supine that he imagined – probably because they have bigger fish to fry on Obamacare, abortion and religious ‘freedom’.
He also already faces the New York Attorney General’s Grand Jury probe and that could tie him up in court for some time.
If you were him you ought not bet on whether Deutsche Bank will refuse to roll over given there many other problems and the risks of exacerbating them. A new administration may also want to look further at the bank’s roles in facilitating money laundering – particularly for dodgy Russians – and he could be collateral damage in such a probe.
There is also an ongoing suit from his niece Mary Trump and a bid by his Mar-e-Lago neighbours to prevent him living at his resort. The latter could also tie him in courts as he does seem to be in breach of various covenants and commitments made in legal settings.
Then there are his financial problems. He managed to convince many Americans that he was a billionaire but we should remember when Elizabeth Warren said in a candidate’s debate that the Presidential race didn’t need two billionaires, Mike Bloomberg replied “Who’s the other one?”
Businesses – including the Washington hotel – are hemorrhaging cash; tenants are revolting over maintenance and other issues; overseas operations have been scaled back; and, if the Trump brand has to depend on the sort of people who vote for him from conviction rather than financial motivation, the businesses face further pressure.
He has personally guaranteed $US420 million in debts and there is a $US340 million debt to Deutsche Bank outstanding.
Probably no one was going to try to foreclose on a sitting President because the risk of retaliation would have been too great. But now the sensible course is to get in before the avalanche.
On the other hand his post-election Save America fund-raising campaign, ostensibly for fighting the election results, has brought in more than $US 200 million. While one billionaire has asked for his one million plus donation back it still leaves Trump with a healthy sum and who knows, given his previous financial record, what he will use it for. If he’s not careful what he chooses might also cause him legal troubles.
Right wing US billionaires might like very conservative politicians who gift them benefits but once they lose their ability to deliver they can readily be dispensed with and replaced by others.
Finally, he might have won the Presidency thanks to distaste for Hilary Clinton and the stupid pox on both your houses approach of the Sanders supporters, but before that he didn’t actually have a reputation as winner except in his own mind.
The Economist once calculated that if he taken his inheritance from his father and invested it in government bonds or an indexed fund he would be much better off than he is.
In defeat, facing legal and financial battles, he can’t rely on his non-existing business skills to get him out of the mess he is going to be in.
He will see his situation as tragic and unfair when the outcome – which will inevitably be very messy – will be more a combination of farce and belated justice.
The blog is taking a break and will be back in the New Year.