Game Over

The President was despondent. Sensing that time was running out, he had asked his aides to draw up a list of his political options. He wasn’t especially religious, but, as daylight faded outside the rapidly emptying White House, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet. “What have I done?” he said. “What has happened?” When the President noted that the military could make it easy for him by leaving a pistol in a desk drawer, the chief of staff called the President’s doctors and ordered that all sleeping pills and tranquillizers be taken away from him, to insure that he wouldn’t have the means to kill himself.

This is what Jane Mayer, one of the most prestigious American journalists, wrote in the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine (Gaming the Endgame). Her article serves to illuminate one of the most tragic and decisive moments of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. What happens between now, after the victory of Joe Biden, and the new president’s takeover on January 20, 2021, can have enormous consequences for the future of the United States and the world. No possibility can be ruled out.

Biden’s victory was much tighter than what Democrats expected, showing that, against many predictions, Trump ran an extremely effective election campaign. This was thanks not only to his charisma, but also to his enormous energy that allowed him to attend numerous campaign events in critical points of the country still convalescing from its infection with the coronavirus. Also important were not only to his personal ambition but also to his desperation knowing the consequences of his defeat. Those consequences could lead him, if not to jail, at least to years of persecution by justice.

Right now, and only in New York State, Trump is being investigated by Cyrus Vance Jr., Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, and Letitia James, Attorney General of the State of New York. Both enjoy considerable functional independence since, unlike the Attorney General of the United States and US attorneys, these prosecutors are elected by and accountable to the people and cannot be manipulated by President Trump. Both the district attorney and the New York State Attorney General have pursued criminal fraud actions against the president that involve the broad spectrum of his finances, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes. According to an investigation by the New York Times, Trump and his advisers have falsified the facts in their tax return in order to avoid paying the tax burdens to which most of their fellow citizens are subjected, certainly less fortunate than the president of the United States.

Although Trump still enjoys a certain dose of immunity, this protection will cease when his term ends, affecting not only him but his entire family. According to the Financial Times, the prestigious English newspaper, in the next four years Trump will have to face a debt of almost a billion dollars for his real estate affairs, a considerable sum even for Donald Trump. Also, his children and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are involved in an investigation for dubious business operations.

A possible way out for Trump would be for him to resign the presidency and that once his vice president takes office as president, he forgives him for his crimes under federal jurisdiction. However, this power granted by the Constitution does not extend presidential grace to crimes subject to the jurisdiction of the states of the Union. In addition, it is feared that President Trump will urge his followers, implicitly or explicitly, to commit acts of violence that justify a delay in the transmission of power. Tony Schwartz, the real author of Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal”, since then the staunchest critic of him, warned about the dangerous period that the US will go through between now and the day of the new president’s inauguration.

With tight margins in Congress, Democrats have shown they still have much room for improvement in order to garner massive support from the population. Their message of undermining the funding of police programs, in the wake of crimes committed by some police officers against black citizens, as well as the “socialist” tone attributed to some Democratic statements, does not resonate positively with the majority of voters. The election for president is over. Now begins the dangerous transition period until the new president is sworn in.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”