And now, what? Challenging the results of the presidential election for months was not enough. Donald Trump must indeed leave the Oval Office on Wednesday to make way for Democrat Joe Biden. But what is the 74-year-old billionaire going to be able to occupy his days with?
“His personal and political future, if there is one, will depend on the future of the various trials which are made against him”, estimates Marie-Christine Bonzom, political scientist specializing in the United States. The ousted president is embroiled in many court cases that should mobilize his energy in the months to come. In particular, he is the subject of two complaints of tax evasion and insurance scams and is accused of sexual assault and rape. The Republican is also engaged in a second impeachment procedure which will continue, an unprecedented fact, after the end of his mandate. And, Donald Trump, who will lose his judicial immunity on January 20, “could well end up in prison”, judge Alix Meyer, lecturer in American civilization at the University of Burgundy.
When he is not in court, Donald Trump should also manage his affairs from one of his residences in New York or Florida. Because before being elected president, Donald Trump was above all an entrepreneur who built his fortune by investing in the real estate sector. He could take over the head of the Trump Organization, led since 2016 by his children. But business could well, there too, be complicated for Donald Trump, because Forbes magazine reports that he has contracted nearly a billion dollars in debt since his election.
“The most likely is that he is trying to monetize his post-presidency future by making big speeches where he will be paid dearly to try to restore the image of the Trump brand which is badly damaged,” said Alix Meyer . Indeed in recent weeks the brand of the outgoing president has suffered many setbacks. The Democratic mayor of New York has ended contracts that allowed the Trump Organization to run attractions in Central Park and a Bronx golf course, and Deutsche Bank has said it will stop funding its real estate developments. Even the 2022 PGA Golf Championship has announced that it will not host its tournament at one of the billionaire’s courses, as originally planned.
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Unlike the other previous tenants of the White House, Donald Trump should not disappear from public life. “In general, the former American presidents make wallpaper: they return to their State of origin and cultivate their garden. But it is hard to imagine that Donald Trump is content to play golf, ”says Marie-Christine Bonzom.
The former reality TV presenter has thus repeatedly mentioned the possibility of launching his close television channel: “Trump television”. Disappointed by the coverage of his presidential election, he would like to create a media capable of “crushing Fox News”, writes the American media Axios.
Banned from his main communication tool, Twitter, but also from classic social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or Twitch, Donald Trump could also create an online platform. This social network would allow him to continue to exchange with his supporters without external moderation.
These new tools would be a way for the ousted president to continue to influence the political scene. “He could be very critical of Biden’s presidency or give good or bad points to those he approves and disapproves of,” analyzes Tamara Boussac, doctor of United States history at EHESS.
With the 74 million votes obtained in the presidential election and an unwavering base of supporters that does not seem to be weakening, Donald Trump still has “significant political capital which remains at his disposal”, recalls Marie-Christine Bonzom. The “showman” could for example multiply meetings in the cities where his most fervent supporters are found. But for what purposes? Would Donald Trump already have his sights set on the 2024 presidential election? “He is a vigorous septuagenarian and his supporters are so strong within the Republican Party that he can very well run for the primary,” assured John Gizzi, a journalist accredited to the White House, in November.
But his image has since been severely degraded by the riots on the Capitol and more generally the last months of his presidency. The political career of the outgoing president could even be definitively buried, if the Senate votes, in addition to his formal dismissal, an article proclaiming his future ineligibility. In addition, in recent weeks, the tenors of the Republican Party have distanced themselves for the first time from their leader, like Mike Pence or the President of the Republican majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.
Finally, “Trump will most certainly have a political future, but not necessarily electorally, nor within the Republican Party. Perhaps by creating a foundation to fight against electoral fraud, as he has already mentioned, or by funding movements, ”said Tamara Boussac. The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump has even recently discussed with his associates the possibility of launching a new political party, “the Patriot Party”. A way to keep influence outside the White House, while the billionaire already dreams of “kingmaker” of the Republicans, continues the expert. And the challenges will be many for the Conservatives after the successive loss, in just a few months, of the Presidency and the Senate. Anyway, one thing is certain for political scientist Alix Meyer: “If Trump was not a president like the others, he will not be a former president like the others either.”