With one wave of my magic wand, I granted two wishes: Trump loyalists’, that he survives the impeachment effort, and Democrats’, that they win the 2020 presidential election. My crystal ball enables me to see events as late as December 2020 clearly, but then it becomes cloudy.
In the fall of 2020, Democratic Party leaders began talking of a full airing of Trump’s criminal conduct.
One vehicle for such an airing is a criminal prosecution against Trump starting the day he leaves the office. (Tradition bars criminal prosecution of a sitting president, but not of an ex-president.) Several reasons were advanced to go this route.
Among them, people would listen, and if prosecution led to a conviction, few future politicians would engage in similar misconduct.
On the other hand, the judgment of history would be placed in the hands of 12 jurors, and anyone of them could prevent a conviction, with incalculable future consequences. In addition, the trial would be limited to conduct narrowly criminal.
The Democrats were not alone in considering the prosecution of Trump; Trump loyalists proposed to him that he resign from the presidency in late December 2020 after obtaining assurances from Vice President Mike Pence, upon assuming the presidency, would pardon Trump.
Trump was mulling over whether Pence could be relied on to honor a pardon, even if Pence had signed it before Trump resigned. And the Democrats were trying to think of ways to prevent Pence from pardoning Trump.
The Democrats considered another way to air Trump’s misconduct, with something like the 9/11 Commission. This commission could consider both conduct criminal and conduct falling short of the criminal. But as the reception of the Mueller report shows, that kind of report would not hold the public interest as long as a criminal trial.
As noted, my crystal ball has clouded up and cannot now show the outcome of these events. Stay tuned.
Wilbur H. Friedman