After Trump Loses
The election results will just be the first domino in a chain of events to come.
We’re all so focused on Nov. 3rd that we aren’t giving much thought to what will come after. Here’s what I think will happen in American politics in the near future:
Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed to the Supreme Court on a party-line Senate vote in late October.
- My guess is that she won’t vote to fully strike down Roe v. Wade but will successfully chip away at it over time.
Donald Trump will lose the election to Joe Biden...bigly.
- Yes, polls can be wrong, and most were in 2016. But Biden is not only polling better than Hillary Clinton in 2016; he’s polling at historic highs for any challenger to a presidential incumbent. There is a lot of room for polling error, and Biden still wins.
- Trump, never good at impulse control at the best of times, is incapable of the discipline or personal growth that would be needed to change his toxic political brand at this stage. In fact, he will likely become even worse as we move toward the election.
The Supreme Court will not play a decisive role in the presidential election outcome.
- Most justices will be wary of further politicizing the court and of goading Democrats into adding court seats. Justice Barrett will be wary of seeming a Trump stooge. Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will worry a bit about that too. This will make the court unlikely to grant cert on most election-related petitions.
- Unlike the Bush v. Gore Florida recount in 2000, the 2020 race is unlikely to come down to a single state. Trump will likely have to claim vote counts in many states are incorrect if he wants to move the overall Electoral College his way. The Supreme Court is unlikely to choose to play referee on voting issues in multiple states at once.
Democrats will retain control of the House and narrowly take control of the Senate in the election.
- Look for AOC / The Squad, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders to have lots of policy clashes with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. I would expect Pelosi and Schumer to win most of the battles.
Trump will refuse to attend Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20th.
- He will never accept the loss and thus will declare the inauguration a sham.
- Trump also only cares about himself and lacks respect for norms.
- He may refuse to let Biden spend the prior night at Blair House and refuse a White House meeting before the inauguration. There won’t be much grace in Trump’s final days.
- There is a possibility he will stage a speech of his own on Jan. 20th. It could be from the White House the morning of the inauguration or a Trump property in the afternoon. (Doral or Mar-a-Lago are probably lovely in January.) Biden’s inauguration speech will get better ratings, but that will be Fake News.
Trump will issue a blanket pardon to himself and many members of his administration the morning of Jan. 20th to “stop the witch hunt.”
- This could lead to litigation between the Biden Justice Department and Trump over the legality of a self-pardon. It depends on whether Justice under Biden decides to pursue any of Trump’s numerous abuses of power.
- The case could eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court.
- I don’t know how the justices would vote. There are no explicit checks on the presidential pardon power in the Constitution. But the judicial branch does exist as a check on overall executive power. A self-pardon would clearly be an abuse of executive power.
- Regardless, any pardon won’t affect the Cyrus Vance investigation, ongoing sexual assault civil suits, or any other investigation of Trump by state or local governments.
If Vladimir Putin has kompromat on Trump, it will be anonymously released or used.
- Trump’s praise for Putin and refusal to criticize Putin over Ukraine, Syria, or the poisoning of Alexei Navalny all point to Putin potentially having something over Trump.
- Maybe it’s control over some of Trump’s massive debt. Maybe it’s evidence of illegal activity by Trump. Maybe it’s just something highly embarrassing to Trump. (Though, I cringe to think what Trump would consider highly embarrassing.)
- I don’t know whether Putin will make his move while Trump is still a lame duck in office or shortly thereafter. It will depend on the nature of the kompromat.
- Putin would likely time any action to cause the maximum amount of instability and embarrassment for the United States. He would love to force the Biden Administration to focus on Trump in its early days rather than tackling its own agenda.
No new seats will be added to the Supreme Court.
- Joe Biden, a former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said in the past he’s against adding more seats to the court. Kamala Harris has seemed more open to it in the past.
- Both are now not commenting on the issue until after the election because they know it’s divisive and will take attention away from the ongoing Trump meltdown.
- My guess is that Biden’s thoughts haven’t changed much here, despite Mitch McConnell’s continued game playing with the Supreme Court. And I happen to think Biden is correct. The court is too politicized already. We don’t want to make it worse. And someday Republicans will fully control the federal government again. We don’t want a Supreme Court seat increase every time a single party is in power.
Between Cyrus Vance, sexual assault civil lawsuits, potential investigation and prosecution by the Biden Justice Department, and massive debts coming due soon, Trump’s post-presidency is looking quite unpleasant.
- It will take years for everything to play out, but bankruptcy, jail, or both could be in his future.
- There is one bright spot for Trump. I assume a future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library & Casino will be announced sometime in 2021.
Main blog post image by Hannah Jacobson.