One thing rational people can agree on: Donald Trump’s presidency is going to come to a premature end. The signs are everywhere, as are the scandals which threaten to bring him down.
All that remains unclear is exactly how the Trump administration will end, and when. Since we cannot accurately gauge the timing of this downfall, let’s look at the scenarios that will finally allow us to say goodbye to this criminal and traitor who has sold his country out for financial gain and political power.
Salon writer Lucian K. Truscott recently engaged in a thought experiment and came up with four endgames that will see Trump removed from office:
In this scenario, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finds enough evidence that Trump has committed various crimes — obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy against the United States — that he indicts the sitting president.
This would then set up a ruling at the Supreme Court to decide if a president can indeed be indicted. As Truscott explains:
“While a previous Supreme Court decision, Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997) found unanimously that a president does not have immunity from a civil lawsuit, the court has not faced a decision as to whether a sitting president can be criminally indicted.”
Mueller doesn’t bother with indictment in this possible outcome. Instead, he writes a report which is then forwarded to Congress by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The House would have to recommend impeachment, and the Senate would hear the case. If two-thirds of Senators vote to impeach, Trump becomes toast and is booted from office.
3. Pardons, Pardons, and More Pardons
Suppose Trump isn’t personally indicted, but lots of his top aides, friends, and family members are. For example, Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump Jr. are all indicted (a very likely outcome.) Then Trump could just start issuing pardons in an attempt to shield himself from prosecution.
But there’s a flaw to this plan, as Truscott notes:
“A pardon of a man like Michael Cohen might save Trump from the possibility that Cohen would flip and testify against him rather than face trial. But an argument could be made that having been granted a pardon would relieve Cohen of his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, and he could still be compelled to testify against Trump. So Trump may not be able to pardon his way out of trouble in a showdown with Mueller after all.”
Also, Trump can only pardon people charged with federal crimes. In New York, where a separate investigation is being conducted by the state attorney general, Trump would be totally powerless to shield his associates from being charged with serious crimes.
4. The Nixon Formula
Many theorize that Trump is only interested in being president for one reason: To further enrich himself. So he’ll do virtually anything to protect his personal fortune and extravagant lifestyle, especially after he leaves office.
Solution: Trump agrees to resign and Mike Pence pardons him soon afterwards. But again, that wouldn’t shield Trump from state charges.
No matter how it happens, Trump is headed for an early exit from the Oval Office. Now we just have to wait and see which of these outcomes takes place.