On Friday, William Rivers Pitt wrote that people in DC are always talking about what Trump intends “to do with his ceaseless presidential ambitions and when he is going to do it.” If he announces before the midterms, he could tank his party’s ambitions to take over Congress. But that isn’t the way he thinks. Nor does he even care… except for the way it might make him look.
The world knows Trump wants to run again; the man has made no bones about it, to be sure. Lately, however, the idea of running has been swelling like a blister in his mind, and may burst sooner than even his most devoted advocates expect. “The former president is now eyeing a September announcement, according to two Trump advisers, who like some others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations,” reports The Washington Post. “One confidant put the odds at ‘70-30 he announces before the midterms.’ And others said he may still decide to announce sooner than September.”
…A man of sense might see his opponents waiting in a gleeful crouch for his next move, and reconsider that move. No one has ever referred to Trump as a “man of sense,” and in any event, he has some singular pressures upon him to move sooner rather than later. First of all, and despite all protests to the contrary, the man’s finances are drowning in red ink.
“Trump is $100 million in debt for Trump Tower,” I wrote in September of 2020, “with the loan coming due in less than two years. He owes $139 million for his 40 Wall Street property, debt coming due in 2025. His stake in the 1290 Avenue of the Americas property has him $285 million in the hole, and comes due in 2022. His stake in the 555 California Street property is $163 million, and comes due this time next year. This list goes on and on, ultimately coming out to approximately $1.1 billion in debt.”
That hasn’t changed, but the absence of an active campaign money spigot has put a crimp in the eternal grifting he requires to keep the financial wolf at bay. Running for president will light that machine back up again, allowing him quite possibly to continue his lifelong practice of always failing upward.
Beyond the financial pressures are the rivals who, by the day, appear to be shedding their fear of Trump. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis polls well against him, and perhaps more importantly, is a fan favorite on Fox News. Pence and Nikki Haley are lurking. Trump apparently believes an early announcement will clear the field. That may have been true a year ago, but the numbers have changed, and not in an encouraging way.
“By focusing on political payback inside his party instead of tending to wounds opened by his alarming attempts to cling to power after his 2020 defeat, Trump appears to have only deepened fault lines among Republicans during his yearlong revenge tour,” reports The New York Times. “A clear majority of primary voters under 35 years old, 64 percent, as well as 65 percent of those with at least a college degree— a leading indicator of political preferences inside the donor class— told pollsters they would vote against Trump in a presidential primary.”
Finally, there is the notion that a run for president will derange, and ultimately undo, all the legal challenges Trump currently faces. Such a development would be a complicating factor, to be sure, but not everyone agrees it would spare Trump the legal consequences he is facing.
“One thing the Democrats know for certain is that Trump’s uncontrolled ego is his own worst enemy,” notes former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb. “They are praying they are able to goad him into an announcement for a 2024 presidential run. A 2024 declaration of his candidacy serves no interest but his self-defeating and overwhelming need for relevance, attention and money. Such an announcement also does not inoculate him from criminal investigation.”
The preponderance of evidence arrayed against Trump— from the January 6 committee, from Georgia, and ever so lugubriously from the Department of Justice— is overwhelming, and demands action. “But I’m running for president!” doesn’t seem like a big enough stick to beat back the onslaught, no matter when he chooses to announce.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley reported over the weekend that Trump has told his team that he needs to br elected president to save himself from prison. They wrote that “In recent months, Trump has made clear to associates that the legal protections of occupying the Oval Office are front-of-mind for him…Trump has ‘spoken about how when you are the president of the United States, it is tough for politically motivated prosecutors to get to you,’ says one of the sources, who has discussed the issue with Trump this summer. ‘He says when [not if] he is president again, a new Republican administration will put a stop to the [Justice Department] investigation that he views as the Biden administration working to hit him with criminal charges— or even put him and his people in prison.’”
“Presidential immunity,” they wrote, “and picking his own attorney general aren’t Trump’s only reasons for running again…But as Trump talks about running, the four sources say, he’s leaving confidants with the impression that, as his criminal exposure has increased, so has his focus on the legal protections of the executive branch… The powers of the presidency would offer a welcome pause to the various civil suits and criminal investigations now hanging over Trump. It’s unclear whether the Justice Department will charge Trump in connection with fomenting the January 6 insurrection, but winning the White House would be extremely helpful to him. Department policy forbids the prosecution of a sitting president, effectively insulating Trump from any federal charges for another four years… In the face of the investigations, many in Trumpworld have hoped that former aides could face prosecution for the efforts to overturn the election instead of the former president. In particular, Trump associates have tried to distance him from Eastman. And as Rolling Stone, reported last week Trump’s legal advisors also view former chief of staff Mark Meadows as a potential fall guy for the former president’s post-election activities.”
Biden may hate him-- I'm sure he does-- but he's too much of an institutionalist to ever allow his Attorney General to put Trump in prison. In fact, if any of the jurisdictions do find Trump guilty of any number of crimes, I bet Biden would pardon him before he saw the inside of a cell. These people stick up for each other.