US Election 2020

US Election: what will Trump do when he leaves the White House?

Donald J. Trump: leader and politician, entrepreneur, reality TV personality and potential prisoner. What does his future look like after the White House?

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US Election: what will Trump do when he leaves the White House?
Servicio Ilustrado (Automático) CHRIS KLEPONIS - POOL VIA CNP /

Come 20 January 2021, Donald Trump will no longer be one of the most powerful men in the world, he’ll be a merely an ex-president. Many presidents decide to write memoirs or dedicate their profile and funds to philanthropy. Those may not quite be enough for the narcissist-in-chief, though.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential options open to Trump going forward.

Run for president again

Trump could put his hat in the ring for round two. The record-breaking 71.5 million votes he won in the 2020 election demonstrates that his brand is arguable as strong as ever.

There are rumours that he’s at least tempted, that is if his children don’t beat him to it.

"I would absolutely expect the president to stay involved in politics and would absolutely put him on the shortlist of people who are likely to run in 2024,” former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney recently said.

The US Constitution stipulates that "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice", but there's nothing in thereabout terms needing to be consecutive. The only other president to leave office and come back for more was Grover Cleveland who signed on for a second term after a break of eight years in 1893.

Avoid ending up in jail

Trump could also feasibly make staying out of prison his full-time job for a little while. At least we can be sure he’s not afraid of the courts considering the show he’s putting on since the election.

Currently on the horizon for when his presidential immunity to prosecution runs out are some investigations into the Trump Organization have already begun, including one in New York State involving hush money allegedly paid to two women who claim they had affairs with the president, according to the BBC.

There’s also the two on going defamation cases related to two allegations of sexual assault by Donald Trump; and Mary Trump, his niece is accusing Donald and two other members of the family of fraud and conspiracy.

On the one hand, Joe Biden has made it abundantly clear that he won’t be consumed by investigations of Donald Trump’s wrongdoing, though many Democrats are keen to host inquiries into Trump and his cronies’ actions. This move is as much motivated by his desire not to be haunted by Trump’s past as it is by his belief in unity over division in the US going forward. 

And on the other, as the Washington Post points out, any inquiries into Trump’s wrongdoing - the way he used the presidency for profit, the conflicts of interest that may arise from his tax returns – could be handled by Congress without any input from Biden whatsoever.

The beginning of Trump Television?

Ever since Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden alongside the Associated Press days before any other news organisation, Trump has made quite clear that his once rosy “you scratch my back” relationship with the network was truly soured. At one point he referred to himself as their “golden goose” in a Twitter rant.

He has now turned his allegiance to Newsmax, a cable network whose CEO Chris Ruddy recently defended their right to spout inaccuracies unchecked because it’s considered opinion. There are rumours circulating that the former Apprentice TV host could do very nicely whipping up his super-fans into an opinion-based frenzy by buying up Newsmax or One American and controlling their output.

Salvage his business empire

Running the Trump Organization, which owns multiple hotels and golf courses, was Trump's main occupation four years ago, so one option would be to pick up right where he left off.

Will investors still trust Donald Trump him after the New York Times scooped in September that he’s actually quite a bad businessman? Maybe he’ll be game to find out. The investigation based on his tax returns showed that Trump has over $400m (£300m) in loans coming due over the next few years and avoided paying federal tax for years after claiming he lost more money than he earned.

If he does decide to try his luck at the hospitality and leisure business again, he might have his work cut out for him. The pandemic has decimated profits in the sector across the globe, and in April Forbes predicted that his net worth may have dropped by as much as $1bn this year.

A comfortable retirement at Mar-a-Lago

At this juncture it seems unlikely given his obsessive need for the spotlight. However, Donald Trump is a 74-year-old man and is looking at a series of cosy perks following his stint as POTUS. Those include a pension in the region of $200,000 per year and healthcare and staff expenses.

With that and all the golf courses and casinos you can shake a stick at, why not live out the rest of his days tweeting and golfing?

Go quietly into shameful exile

There is just one other wildcard possibility for Donald Trump. In October, he admitted that if he lost the election he would feel so bad about losing to Joe Biden that "maybe I'll have to leave the country, I don't know".