The Three Possible Fates of President Donald Trump
If one brings up the investigation into possible collusion with the Russian government by the Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign, there are two primary camps: those who think his goose is cooked and those who think it’s all hogwash. Each has their reasons for thinking so and I will not debate the merits of their arguments here. I will, however, peer into the likely futures I see for the President.
Option 1: The President Is Guilty of Collusion
This is obviously the worst possibility.
It would mean that not only did a foreign power attempt to interfere in our elections, but that our President is guilty of treason. Futhermore, the follow up would be a storm of calls for impeachment and prosecution, which would test the Republican party’s loyalty to itself versus country like never before. It could spill over and take down Vice President Pence, even some of the GOP leadership.
For years to come, his faithful supporters would cry conspiracy and coverup. Our country would be in kind of turmoil it hasn’t seen in decades, if in a century.
No one should look forward to this possibility, but if it’s the reality of the situation, we need to know.
Option 2: The President Is Guilty of Something Else
While it’s true that there’s no legal requirement to disclose one’s tax returns, President Trump’s refusal to do so smacks of hiding something. His dismissal of and obfuscation of the facts of the matter also reeks of suspicious behavior.
It is possible the President has, despite his many refusals, some business ties to Russia or to common interests with Russia. These might or might not violate the Emoluments clause; if they exist and did, then we’d be back to impeachment. If they don’t, they still could represent a conflict of interest, one which the President would likely brush off accusations and keep on going.
While this would likely have less dire circumstances than a charge of treason, it still would be a blow to his administration and likely galvanize his opposition in 2018 and 2020.
Option 3: The President is Innocent
You’d think this would be a positive outcome, but if it’s the case, then it comes with some significant issues of it’s own. The first and foremost is the amount of venom and political capital the President has been willing to spend on berating those who have dared accuse him. He speaks like an angsty teen on the matter, claiming that it’s a witch hunt and an excuse concocted by the Democrats to explain their own failures, and if he’s done nothing and it can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, he will double down on all those claims. He will continue to demonstrate the persecuted martyr behavior that he wallows in every day on his Twitter feed.
In this case, his base is strengthened, sharing in his sense of unjust chastisement, but the gap between him and the over half of the country that didn’t vote for him is widened. Otherwise, however, we’d be back to business as usual, I imagine, except with 20% more smug rhetoric.
But what about Flynn?
It should be noted that I’m primarily speaking of the President here. There are other players who may be guilty independent of President Trump. It is entirely possible the President is at the mercy of those around him, a pawn in a game not of his choosing, or even a bystander.
Whatever the outcome, however, I think that damage has already been done to the office of the President, damage to which it’s current occupant is either indifferent or oblivious. Should he be exonerated, I would hope that the President would learn from the experience, though history suggests that is unlikely at best.
Time alone will determine the value of these investigations, but for all of our sakes, let justice be done.