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Trump’s 7 Possible Futures, Post-Don Jr.

Place your bets

Will history remember Donald Trump Jr.’s emails as a turning point — the beginning of the end of the Trump administration?

Or will this all blow over? Maybe Junior’s emails mark the height of Russia hysteria, which gradually declines as no additional evidence of collusion emerges.

Or maybe Trump skates by, only for Don Jr. to be eclipsed by something even more ridiculous (which he also skates by). And that’s how the next three and half years go, with the Trump presidency forever embattled, but never defeated.

Step Right Up — Place Your Bets

There are seven ways this could go. They’re mutually exclusive (only one can happen), and I ranked them from most to least likely. Do you go with the favorite? Or gamble on one of the long shots?

(Note: the outcome is what matters, not the details. Maybe it doesn’t happen exactly how I sketched out. But as long as it happens, your bet’s a winner.*)

*Bets are entirely imaginary.

Completes first term — 2:1
Don Jr.’s emails are just another thing Trump critics get upset about that doesn’t go anywhere. No matter what comes out of investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee, the political reaction is more of the same.

Trump’s core supports never wavers. His base insists the whole thing’s made up. Some even believe it.

If anyone brings criminal charges against Junior, Kushner, Ivanka, Mike Pence, Michael Flynn, or even Paul Manafort, Trump just pardons them. Maybe he ends up pardoning himself, leading to a historic legal battle that drags on throughout the term.

Congressional Republicans express concern, but stick by him.

Maybe he wins reelection. Maybe he doesn’t even get the nomination. But, no matter who is president in 2021, Donald Trump makes it all four years.

Impeachment before 2018 midterms — 5:1
What would it take for Congressional Republicans to turn on Trump? No matter what he does, no matter what happens with any of the investigations, it ultimately comes down to them.

We clearly haven’t reached their limit. Some genuinely like Trump, others represent constituents who do, and the remainder fear right-wing media criticism and a primary challenge.

So things would have to get really nuts.

The “pee pee” tape is real, and becomes the world’s viralist video. Other embarrassing tapes follow.

The Russia investigations turn up all sorts of dirt. The evidence for collusion is overwhelming.

Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and Ivanka all face serious charges and turn on their father/in-law. They testify in Congress and lay out everything, going back decades. The family tears each other apart in the greatest reality show of all time.

A popular groundswell overwhelms Congressional Republicans, and the impeachment vote isn’t close. The headline blares from billions of newspapers and websites: You’re Fired.

(Note: impeachment in this context must include removal from office.)

This bet also covers Nixon-style resignation in the face of impeachment.

Impeachment after the midterms — 7:1
I see two ways this could happen:

  1. In a midterm wave, Democrats retake the House and Senate. The House passes articles of impeachment, and 10–15 Republican Senators join Democrats in voting to throw Trump out of office.
  2. Something like the pre-midterm scenario, but for whatever reason it happens in 2019 or 2020 (investigations take 2 full years, there’s a new scandal, etc). Republicans hang on to one or both houses of Congress, but decide this isn’t the hill they’re going to die on.

As the odds reflect, I think if impeachment’s going to happen, events will escalate quickly from Don Jr.’s emails. But even if things go nuts, there’s no way Democrats win 2/3 of the Senate in 2018, leaving enough Republicans to block removal.

What does the future hold?

Resigns (for health, etc.) — 8:1
The president gets seriously ill and announces he cannot perform his duties, turning the country over to Mike Pence.

Maybe Trump tells everyone he was happier as a businessman and quits. Or maybe he says he fixed everything ahead of schedule and is taking a well deserved retirement.

Any resignation counts, other than ducking imminent impeachment.

(Note: Any decision by Grossman Oddsmakers, LLC to classify a resignation Trump claims is about health etc. as genuine or as an impeachment-avoiding excuse is final and not subject to refund).

Military Coup — 10:1
The buzz starts on Twitter and quickly spreads: something crazy’s happened. James Mattis comes on TV, flanked by John Kelly and HR McMaster. He addresses the country:

My fellow Americans. We have relieved Donald Trump of his duties as commander in chief, and placed him under arrest. He insisted upon launching a preemptive nuclear strike against North Korea, and would not listen when we counseled otherwise.

Rest assured, the country is safe, and will be returning to civilian control in the near future.

Dies in Office — 12:1
Cause non-specified. He could get assassinated (unlikely, the Secret Service is very good), or — being an overweight, maximally stressed 71-year-old man who shuns exercise — he could have a heart attack.

Doesn’t matter really. He could insist on visiting troops the field and accidentally set off an explosive.

Anything at all (with the exception of getting killed in a military coup).

25th Amendment — 20:1
Anti-Trumpers talk about this as if it’s a serious possibility, but it’s harder than they think.

A majority of the cabinet determines “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” and the vice president takes over. But the president can, at any point, provide Congress with “his written declaration that no inability exists.” If that happens, a cabinet majority can write to Congress and say otherwise, and if 2/3 of both houses agree, the president is removed from office.

That’s a higher threshold than impeachment, which requires a simple majority in the House, 2/3 in the Senate, and nothing from the cabinet.

(Note: The 25th Amendment technically covers resignations, but that’s it’s own bet. If the cabinet invokes the 25th because Trump becomes medically incapacitated, this bet wins only if he does not die before the end of his term. It also loses if the invocation is temporary).

The odds are set. One of these is happening. What’s your pick?

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Nicholas Grossman

Nicholas Grossman

Senior Editor at Arc Digital. Poli Sci prof (IR) at U. Illinois. Author of “Drones and Terrorism.” Politics, national security, and occasional nerdery.