The Senate trial is just the first of many landmines Trump will have to navigate going forward. He is also likely to face an array of civil and criminal lawsuits at the federal and state levels, on issues ranging from financial illegalities, to abuse of power, and insurrection-related charges.
In the first three days of his new administration, United States (US) President Joe Biden signed a total of 30 executive actions aimed at stopping or reversing Donald Trump’s policies. They include executive orders to terminate the construction of a nearly 2,000-mile long wall on the US-Mexican border; end the Muslim ban that restricted entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries; return the US to the World Health Organization; rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change; and, halt the crackdown on immigration to the US.
Biden has moved fast to unveil a stimulus package to kickstart the US economy. The damage done by the former president, who came to power promising to “put Americans back to work” is reflected in a simple data point — more Americans were in the workforce when he entered the Oval Office on January 20, 2017, than when he left on January 20. But the immediate priority for Biden is tackling Covid-19 on a war-footing. Under Trump’s watch, more than 400,000 Americans lost their lives to a virus that he constantly downplayed.
Before the failed insurrection he inspired on January 6, few had expected Trump to fade away quietly. The conventional wisdom was that he was going to travel across the country addressing tens of thousands of adoring supporters, getting his loyalists elected to various local, state and federal races, and remaining relevant in national politics to make another potential presidential run in 2024.
In addition to these political activities, which would freeze the 2024 GOP primary field, there was another equally pressing matter — rescuing his business, which has been losing money every year since his presidential bid in 2015. January 6 changed all of those calculations, and turned much of the country, except for Trump loyalists and committed Republican supporters, against him.
Trump ran the country for four years without being held accountable by anyone. The defeat on November 3 and Trump’s subsequent incendiary actions, culminating in the insurrection of January 6, has changed all that. Because of those failures, Trump has entered the accountability zone.
After being impeached by the House of Representatives for the second time, the first president to suffer that fate twice, he could be convicted by the US Senate in a trial to begin in the week of February 8.
To some extent, the likelihood of conviction will depend on the quality of the case made during the trial. To a greater extent, it will depend on what direction former Senate Majority Leader and now Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decides to take the Republican Senate establishment.
If the Republican establishment senators conclude that Trump is guilty and that it is in the country and the party’s best interest to convict him, they will vote to do so. They understand that if Trump is not convicted, he will be a major disruptive and destructive force and the Republican Party will remain a Trump party. On the other hand, if he is gone, the Republican leadership will have a chance to refocus the party away from Trumpism. The Senate trial is just the first of many landmines Trump will have to navigate going forward. He is also likely to face an array of civil and criminal lawsuits at the federal and state levels, on issues ranging from financial illegalities, to abuse of power, and insurrection-related charges.
Even before the Capitol riots, several of Trump’s businesses were under water. He needs to come up with more than $400 million in the next few years to pay back various lenders. His ability to raise that kind of money seems unlikely due to the fact that Trump’s businesses have been built around the Trump brand. The value of that brand had diminished significantly for many in the US before the January 6 insurrection. That event made the brand almost toxic.
What a difference an election can make. In 2016, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats learned the hard way that votes indeed have consequences. Now it’s Trump’s and the GOP’s turn to learn that.