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Retreat, regroup, re-emerge - What's next for Donald J. Trump?

Trump will become the first President since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to skip his successor’s ceremonial swearing-in.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

DONALD J. TRUMP will today leave the White House, ending his term as 45th President of the United States. 

His next move?

It won’t be to the US Capitol for Joe Biden’s inauguration. Trump will become the first President since Andrew Johnson in 1869 to skip his successor’s ceremonial swearing-in. 

Instead, Trump will travel to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Banned from major social media platforms, facing an historic second impeachment vote and innumerable court battles, Trump’s political future looks bleak. Any comeback is dependent on finding new ways of mobilising his base. 

‘Impeachment’

Desks at the White House will by now have been cleared out, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue deep-cleaned. Traces of Trump’s febrile four years in office will be largely erased. 

Before the events of 6 January at the US Capitol, Trump was expected to remain front-and-centre within the Republican Party. 

But the siege – which resulted in the deaths of five people – exposed a rift in the GOP with 10 Republicans crossing party lines to vote for impeachment in the House last week. 

Democrats are building a strong case against Trump. A Senate trial could begin this week. 

However, it is clear that Democrats do not want the Senate trial to dominate Biden’s opening days.

Biden’s incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, has said he hoped Senate leaders, on a bi-partisan basis, “find a way to move forward on all of their responsibilities”.

“This impeachment trial is one of them, but getting people into the government and getting action on coronavirus is another one of those responsibilities.”

engrossment-of-h-r-24-impeachment-against-president-trump Source: DPA/PA Images

If Trump is impeached, he could subsequently be prevented from holding political office again, he could be prosecuted and he could have his Presidential pension removed. 

Yet it is unclear how many Senate Republicans, if any, would vote to convict Trump – and which articles of impeachment would be enacted. 

Republican leader Mitch McConnell is telling his caucus that their decision on whether to convict the former Commander-in-Chief will be a “vote of conscience”.

His stance means the GOP leadership team will not work to hold senators in line one way or the other. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, but said he is undecided about how he would vote.

He continues to hold great sway in his party, even though convening the trial this week could be among his last acts as majority leader as Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate with the seating of two new Democratic senators from Georgia.

‘Real-Estate Empire’

Meanwhile, Trump is expected to reside full-time at his Mar-a-Lago mansion, despite ongoing objections from neighbours at the glitzy Palm Beach resort. 

As he settles into life post-Presidency, his real-estate empire is in trouble and has been for some time.  

The Trump Organisation is $1 billion in debt, although his not inconsiderable assets could cover that.  

Recent reports in US media, however, chronicle low-occupancy at Trump properties in Washington and Chicago as the US contends with Covid-19. 

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Trump also owes $400 million to Deutsche Bank, which is reportedly planning to halt business with Trump after events at the US Capitol. 

The PGA tournament last week moved 2022′s golf Championship from Trump National in Washington D.C. to Bedminster in New Jersey. 

Trump could find other business opportunities overseas, Bloomberg reported this week, particularly in The United Arab Emirates, a nation Trump’s administration kept close ties with. 

And with an addiction to limelight, Trump – despite cutting off communication with his nation in the final days of his Presidency – is unlikely to disappear from our screens. 

‘TV Network?’

Trump may be banned from Twitter, Facebook and a host of social media platforms but, as borne out by four years of his Presidency, he does not stay quiet for long. 

Michael D’Antonio, who wrote a 2015 biography of Trump, says that 6 January was a “game-changer” for Trump’s brand but said he is likely to shift away from his legacy businesses and evolve into a TV political evangelist.

Trump could create his own network, appealing to a base he can no longer reach on social media. It’s a move that may work given the muddied waters around Trump’s relationship with US conservative networks, including Fox which called Arizona for Biden in the 2020 Election. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Hicks Equity Partners, an investment firm, has tried to raise money to help Trump acquire or create a right-leaning outlet of his own.

As former Trump campaign advisor Sam Nunberg said this week: “Donald Trump is a money-making commodity in media. There will always be a space for him. He will always have a tremendous audience. Even people who hate him will watch him.”

For now, Trump will return home to Mar-a-Lago. Whether his future involves selling his brand politically, commercially or both – it probably won’t be long until we hear from him. 

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