What do you think the world’s biggest loser, Donald Trump, is doing right now? Is he mainlining McDonald’s as some tabloid reports I would dearly like to believe suggest? Is he googling which countries currently do not have extradition treaties with the United States? Is he crying over the prospect of having to sell his precious golf courses in order to avoid being a broke-ass bitch?
The answer may be all of the above! Trump is reportedly very worried about the prospect of facing material consequences for his actions. New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi spoke with someone “who speaks to the president often” and according to this unnamed source, Donald is shaking with fear. “He wants to lose. He’s out of money. He worries about being arrested. He worried about being assassinated,” they told Nuzzi. In the immortal words of my colleague Ashley Reese, not to stan jail, but!
Let’s start with the extremely satisfying idea that Trump, far from enriching himself during the course of his presidency, may actually go broke. A blockbuster New York Times investigation from September showed that Trump is “in a tightening financial vise”:
His revenue from “The Apprentice” and from licensing deals is drying up, and several years ago he sold nearly all the stocks that now might have helped him plug holes in his struggling properties.
The tax audit looms.
And within the next four years, more than $300 million in loans — obligations for which he is personally responsible — will come due.
While some financial experts the Associated Press spoke with said “the notion of Trump going broke anytime soon is farfetched,” the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer recently laid out why Trump has reason to be worried about, as Mayer put it, the “grave legal and financial threats” facing him once he’s out of office. Here’s how she described the legal threats:
No American President has ever been charged with a criminal offense. But, as Donald Trump fights to hold on to the White House, he and those around him surely know that if he loses—an outcome that nobody should count on—the presumption of immunity that attends the Presidency will vanish. Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently under way, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Nixon. The Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said of Trump, “If he loses, you have a situation that’s not dissimilar to that of Nixon when he resigned. Nixon spoke of the cell door clanging shut.” Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Joe Biden. Even if Trump wins, grave legal and financial threats will loom over his second term.
Two of the investigations into Trump are being led by powerful state and city law-enforcement officials in New York. Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, and Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, are independently pursuing potential criminal charges related to Trump’s business practices before he became President. Because their jurisdictions lie outside the federal realm, any indictments or convictions resulting from their actions would be beyond the reach of a Presidential pardon.
As for his finances, well, they’re not looking great! Mayer referenced the loans that are coming due soon, before continuing:
[M]uch of this debt is owed to such foreign creditors as Deutsche Bank. Unless he can refinance with the lenders, he will be on the hook. The Financial Times, meanwhile, estimates that, in all, about nine hundred million dollars’ worth of Trump’s real-estate debt will come due within the next four years. At the same time, he is locked in a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over a deduction that he has claimed on his income-tax forms; an adverse ruling could cost him an additional hundred million dollars. To pay off such debts, the President, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be two and a half billion dollars, could sell some of his most valuable real-estate assets—or, as he has in the past, find ways to stiff his creditors. But, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Trump’s properties—especially his hotels and resorts—have been hit hard by the pandemic and the fallout from his divisive political career.
As the history professor Timothy Snyder told Mayer, “It’s the office of the Presidency that’s keeping him from prison and the poorhouse.”
May we be so blessed!