President Donald Trump’s election loss to President-Elect Joe Biden was more than a political defeat – it marked the end of Trump’s immunity to prosecution for his lifetime of corruption, fraud, sexual assault, and tax avoidance schemes. His career has been built on an image that he crafted for himself that was not quantifiable within the bounds of objective reality.
If you thought that the lame-duck commander in chief was only interested in self-enrichment during his presidency, the transition period into the Biden Administration is even more concerning, and we need to talk about it. Sure, Trump has conceded the election in his own way, yet he continues to email his supporters that “he will prevail.”
Today, in fact, Trump insisted – again – that “we have to turn the election over.”
But just because Trump will no longer be president does not mean we will be rid of his brand of toxic politics. Trump received 73 million votes in the 2020 election – more than any other incumbent president. That is a significant increase of 10 million ballots over his 2016 total.
That is why I look toward the next two months with extreme caution.
Trump thinks he can get away with whatever he does:
Trump knows that once he is no longer in office that his whole life will be consumed by lawsuits, particularly in New York State, where Attorney General Letitia James is rumored to have dozens of sealed indictments waiting to drop at 12:01 p.m. on January 20, 2021. Certainly no stranger to courtroom drama, Trump will likely try to strike settlement deals or get cases dismissed. In some instances, he may succeed.
But the scope of his criminality is so incredibly vast, and his cocky, public admissions of guilt are so numerous, that the foundations of everything he has built are eroding to dust. Nothing is more valuable to Trump than his name, and after serving the worst four years of any president, that gilded brand is nearly chipped down to the cheap, rotten foam at its core.
Trump has never faced any consequences for anything. Those days are likely over, and it would not be beyond Trump – a man who is pathologically incapable of empathy or self-reflection – to exact his revenge.
They got away with treason:
Trump’s obsession with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has held secret meetings, reeks of betrayal and self-preservation. Thanks to the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we know that Trump’s associates welcomed, and possibly even facilitated, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
While some of the players involved have gotten their comeuppance, Trump’s unilateral power of clemency threatens to undermine American justice.
Trump reportedly wants to pardon his former National Security Adviser, the traitor Michael Flynn, whom a federal judge accused of treason in open court.
Flynn was convicted of lying to the FBI during Mueller’s investigation over contacts he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – the same Kislyak with whom Trump shared national security secrets in the Oval Office shortly after being inaugurated.
Trump may even try to pardon himself, though that would not protect him from being charged with crimes at the state level. But even this grotesque abuse of power pales in comparison to what may be brewing in the shadows.
On Wednesday, Axios reported that the Israeli armed forces are prepping for a possible war with Iran. This falls on the heels of a New York Times report from last week that Trump had discussed bombing an Iranian uranium enrichment facility.
It has also been reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in secret with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Any military conflict with Iran would be nothing short of a bloodbath and would instantly place the planet on the precipice of another world war. Recall that it was Trump, not Iran, who violated the Iran nuclear deal by withdrawing the United States from the international agreement – to which Iran was in compliance.
Will Trump dare drive the US into another Middle East war that he can dump into Biden’s lap?
It is no secret that Trump has not for a second taken the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough, despite having been infected with the virus himself. By the time he leaves office, 400,000 Americans will be dead. Tens of millions more will have gotten infected. The American health care system, already strained by the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, may totally buckle.
Make no mistake – the worsening COVID-19 disaster is entirely the fault of Trump, his supporters, and Republicans who are hopelessly opposed to science and reason.
The president can blame China all he wants. COVID-19 is his plague, and every senseless death is due to his homicidal indifference.
The pandemic was not sparked in a vacuum, though. The hastening destruction of our planet virtually guarantees that future outbreaks will occur – and they may make COVID-19 seem like a cakewalk.
No singular issue, however, holds a candle to the existential threat global warming poses to the future of civilization, and Trump’s gutting of environmental regulations – which have not ceased – has accelerated the damage to our biosphere, perhaps irreparably, all in the name of short-term corporate profits.
The Trump Administration’s war against nature has been multi-faceted, from the loosening fuel efficiency standards, granting permits to fossil fuel and mining interests so they can further destroy what little pristineness is left of our biosphere, to the muzzling of government scientists, and the corruption at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Many leading scientists have trumpeted innumerable warnings that we are running out of time to mitigate the damage caused by carbon emissions. Many experts say that the Earth has already passed crucial tipping points – melting polar ice and permafrost, ocean acidification, mass die-offs of thousands of species, and feedback loops that exacerbate planetary heating among them – meaning that runaway climate change is irreversible and unstoppable.
And what has the Trump Administration’s response to these warnings been? More drilling. More pollution. More environmental genocide.
It may not matter if Biden re-signs the Paris Climate Agreement, because its goals will not stave off what is coming within the next decade. The window to act is not just closing – Trump has all but glued it shut.
The worst possible scenario:
Setting all of the aforementioned aside, there remains one additional item which has kept me up at night since Trump took office: his absolute authority over the mighty American nuclear arsenal. I have already written extensively about how dangerous this is.
Trump has, on numerous occasions, threatened to rain atomic hellfire onto American adversaries like Iran and North Korea. But we cannot ignore Trump’s recent actions – like pulling the US out of the Open Skies Treaty, which was yet another gift to Putin. Trump has also pushed for the development of more advanced forms of nuclear weapons, rekindling arms races and bringing the world once again to the brink of nuclear conflict.
In January, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock ticked forward to 100 hundred seconds to midnight, the closest to 12:00 it has ever been since its conception in 1947.
The climate change crisis, which is unquestionably a consequence of human activity, can be mitigated. The global devastation wrought by battling with atomic bombs cannot.
Our survival – not just as a republic, but as a civilization and a species – may hinge on the dalliances of a sundowning 74-year-old sociopath with unfettered license to initiate the apocalypse.
The current president cannot be entrusted to responsibly wield the most destructive armaments ever engineered for one additional second, especially now that he has nothing left to lose.
How useful was the idiot?
The most consequential effects of Trump’s tenure will be felt in the courts. Trump has stacked the judiciary with young, right-wing judges. In fact, Trump has placed more people on federal benches than any other president – ever. He more than served his purpose for advancing the Republican Party’s decades-long crusade of reshaping the US into a Christo-fascist oligarchy.
This year’s election may only be a brief reprieve from what Trump has done behind closed doors.
It was certainly a relief that Biden crushed Trump in the election, however, now that the General Services Administration has certified Biden as the president-elect, Trump has nothing left to lose, and he can do major damage throughout the final weeks of his term.
Indeed, this is what has begun to happen.
Fifty-six days until the inauguration.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.