Friday, December 18, 2020


As Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman reported today in The New York Times, losing the presidency has perhaps been Donald Trump's most successful business venture.
Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Mr. Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters — often under dubious pretenses — raising roughly $250 million since Election Day along with the national party.

More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, according to people familiar with the matter, which Mr. Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds, which far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal, provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions....

Some campaign finance experts have speculated that Mr. Trump might try to use the excess of cash in his new PAC, formally known as a leadership PAC, to pay for his own personal future legal quagmires, as he faces investigations once he leaves office....

“A leadership PAC is a slush fund,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a group that supports increased political transparency. “There are very, very, very few limits on what he can’t spend money on.”
The story notes that Trump is collecting this money, ostensibly in order to fight to retain the presidency, or fund a campaign to retake it in 2024, even though he seems fed up with politics.
Those who have spoken with Mr. Trump say he appears shrunken, and over his job....

Mr. Trump has talked about running again in 2024 — but he also may not.... Talk of counterprogramming Mr. Biden’s inauguration with a splashy event or an announcement of his own is currently on hold.

Mr. Trump had been tentatively planning to go to Georgia on Saturday, according to a senior Republican official, to support the two Republicans in Senate runoff races there. But he is still angry at the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state for accepting the election result, and simply doesn’t want to make the trip. There is some discussion about him going after the Christmas holiday, but it’s not clear he will be in a more magnanimous mood by then.
But the grift can continue only as long as he insists that he can still be declared the winner, or can be returned to office four years from now. (Or sooner -- it won't surprise me if, after January 20, Trump insists that he can sue to regain the office and drive Biden out. His people will probably believe that, the same way they now believe he can overturn Biden's victory.)

Can Trump hope keep the cash flowing until the next election cycle? I bet he can. I know most of you think he'll spend much of the next several years in the dock, but I think he'll crowdfund his court battles, too. He'll be a hero and a martyr -- Deep State socialists are trying to destroy me!

I'm sticking with my theory that neither Trump nor any of his relatives will ever see the inside of a jail cell, because we don't convict rich people in America. But if you don't believe that, you can imagine that Trump believes it. And you can understand why: He's in his seventies and the law hasn't caught up with him yet.

Which brings us to 2024. If he's still a free man, will Trump really want to run again? It's quite possible that he won't. But to keep the grift going, he'll need to say that he's running right up until the last possible moment.

And at that point -- sometime in 2023 -- I think he might pass the torch. He should pass it to his angry wingnut son and namesake. But he'll pass it to his daughter, who may or may not have run for Marco Rubio's Senate seat by then. She might actually be a senator at that point.

I've long believed that Ivanka isn't sufficiently in touch with the beliefs of the crazy base to succeed as a Republican politician. But Trumpism has become such a personality cult that the Godfather might really be able to tell his adoring fans to direct their worship her way, and they'll do it.

And yes, I know that there's an aura of criminality around Ivanka and her husband, too. Business Insider reported on that today (paywalled story, but you can read it here):
President Donald Trump's most powerful advisor, Jared Kushner, approved the creation of a campaign shell company that secretly paid the president's family members and spent almost half of the campaign's $1.26 billion war chest, a person familiar with the operation told Insider....

The shell company — incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC — allowed Trump's campaign to skirt federally mandated disclosures. The tactic could attract scrutiny from federal election regulators.

I'm sure ther'll never be an accountability moment for this. The grift will just go on. And Ivanka might eventually be crowned. Or maybe Trump and his family will lose their hold on the base. But it'll take someone crazy and driven to knock the Trumps off their perch.

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