Donald Trump needs an October Surprise in 2020, but his attorney general, William Barr, can’t deliver. There will be no pre-election DOJ report on or criminal charges for any improper unmasking requests by Obama officials, including Joe Biden, stemming from Trump-Russia investigations of Trump's disgraced national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
Barr tasked U.S. Attorney John Bash to undertake the unmasking review and Bash has subsequently left the DOJ. U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the FBI’s 2016 probe into Trump-Russia is equally uneventful and will yield no pre-election report. FBI Director Chris Wray finds his job on the line because he refuses to fall in lock step with Donald Trump’s 2020 desires.
There will be no cavalry coming as Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign sinks lower than his 2016 campaign was headed until former FBI Director James Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails revived Trump’s presidential bid. October lightning will not strike twice for Trump as Barr fails in his quest to please his boss and Wray will not play ball.
As Trump faces the very real possibility of a landslide defeat at the polls on November 3 and the fact he may drag the Republican Senate and Republican state legislatures down with him, our very feral president knows he’s in the worst trouble of his litigious life. Donald is pulling out all stops with no regard to further damage he is doing to the country he leads. COVID-19 super spreader rallies are being held, and pandemic lies continue to put Americans at needless risk as Trump makes his desperate bid to stay in the White House, out of reach of both state and federal prosecutors. He encourages his most ardent loyalists to come to his aid as poll watchers and perhaps take up arms against fellows Americans, endangering free and fair elections. His Republican supplicants in Congress and state Houses, along with some on the federal bench, are doing everything they can to suppress the vote but American voters have learned, “fool us once shame on you, fool us twice shame on us” and are turning out in historic numbers to vote right now.
Trump, with massive personal debt coming due in the next four years, needs a second term. His last hope is a nine-member Supreme Court stacked with his appointees that will hand a contested election to him while America quietly watches democracy die. The majority of Americans who did not support Trump in 2016 find their numbers have grown in 2020 as Trump and his Republican cronies allow a virus to kill us and bring down our economy. America’s racial injustice that leaves law-abiding citizens unsafe in their own country has seen daylight. We know we are approaching the finish line and Donald Trump knows his back is against the wall. It is likely Trump will be a one-term president as a coming decisive defeat will not allow a successfully contested election to save him.
As many of his ilk, Trump is a survivor. As January 20, 2021 approaches it is likely he is weighing options as he will soon be exposed to prosecutors and creditors. Trump needs an exit strategy.
After a resounding defeat his Republican enablers will disavow him and push him out of the lifeboat as the party sinks. As the jockeying for position to run against Vice President Kamala Harris in 2024 starts, Trumpism will be pushed to the fringe. Trump will be a lonely, rebuked man. Not even Twitter or a TV show will give him solace. He could resign before January 20, 2021 after making a deal with President Pence for a pardon but that would only eliminate federal prosecution. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. will still be very real threats. It is unlikely that Trump would relinquish the power of the presidency in such a willing fashion. Self-pardon is dicey and uncertain. Once Biden takes the oath of office, it’s all over. COVID didn’t disappear, but Trump’s presidential power will. He will need good attorneys, but as a habitual liar deep in debt and someone viewed as responsible for bringing the nation to the brink, Trump will likely not have access to top legal talent. Donald’s post-presidency future is indeed bleak.
Trump’s currency is the information he will take with him out of the White House. Every former president is trusted to keep the secrets he has learned about our national security to himself. He knows where things are, he knows how things work, and his discretion is expected. This is Donald’s last norm to shatter. His indiscretion can place the country in danger and get people killed. Do we really think Donald Trump would care if he can get a protector and a buyer for that information? Trump knows exactly who would love to have access to a former president with a propensity for dangerous disclosure. Don’t assume Trump didn’t pay attention so he doesn’t know much. Trump knows sensitive information might save him in the end and we do not know how much and what he has retained. Lame duck presidents often travel abroad. Bill Clinton did, George W. Bush did, and Barack Obama did. Why wouldn’t he? The question is would Trump come back considering what awaits him? Perhaps hell has no fury like a certain former president toward an America that didn’t treat him fairly.
Susan SurfTone is a musician, former FBI agent, and regular contributor to The Advocate.