What happens if Donald Trump quits? - Macleans.ca

What happens if Donald Trump quits?

Scott Gilmore: Leaving office would be easy, but the job for President Pence of rebuilding the nation and its reputation would be monumental



A few months ago, the idea of Trump resigning was just a liberal fantasy—denial as the first stage of grief following the death of the Hillary Clinton candidacy. But the president’s rambling and outraged speech last night in Phoenix reminded us that his sudden departure is not impossible

Trump’s rally, even by his own standards, was a remarkably disjointed and angry attack on the media and his own party. He argued he was the real victim of the Charlottesville protests. He mocked both of Arizona’s Republican senators. He mused about cancelling NAFTA, threatened to shut down government and boasted about legislative “triumphs” that did not exist.

Republican strategist Rick Wilson described the event as “an astounding chain of lies tied together by lunatic asides by a man who obviously is unstable.” This was an elderly man, either disconnected from reality or unwilling to face it, who was isolated, angry and miserable. Donald Trump is not enjoying the job.

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Earlier this week, Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghostwriter for his book The Art of the Deal, predicted that the president would resign before the end of the year. This is a theory that is being increasingly shared by many other pundits and strategists who think the president will want to find a way out before either his tax returns or Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation forces his hand.

The bookmaker Ladbrokes is now seeing large sums being bet on an early departure, and it recently readjusted the odds that Trump will not complete his first term to 50/50. I personally think the chances are considerably lower than that. An impeachment process would likely not start until after the 2018 midterms and could drag on into 2020. And while I can imagine the scenario where Trump decides to suddenly declare victory and quit, I don’t yet see a plausible exit ramp that allows him to save face. Nonetheless, we have now reached a point where we should be seriously considering what would happen if the president did resign.

It would probably be sudden. While becoming president of the United States is one of the most difficult and complicated processes in the world, it is surprisingly simple to walk away from the job. Richard Nixon did it with a one-sentence note to his secretary of state. Given Trump’s impulsive nature, it is quite possible that he could arrive at the decision and execute it with a tweet moments later. He is not in the habit of consulting widely, although it is possible he might muse about a resignation with White House staff. But for all of us, and most of the people in his administration, it would likely come out of the blue.

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Immediately, possibly within minutes, regardless of where he is in the world, Vice-President Mike Pence would be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Trump’s nuclear codes would be swapped to Pence, and with remarkable swiftness, the Secret Service, the White House, the press corps and the entire administration would suddenly pivot toward President Pence.

But other than the new name on the letterhead, immediate change might be hard to see. Pence would come to office with no identifiable personal agenda, no popular mandate and no political base. Trump’s vocal supporters will inevitably react to a resignation with anger. (I can picture Alex Jones’s head literally exploding on air.)

The conspiracy theories about the “swamp” and “cosmopolitan elites” are already being floated. Even in the mainstream media there would be questions about whether Trump’s departure is serving or subverting democracy. Online Russian disinformation campaigns would work overtime to feed the uncertainty and the anger.

In an effort to defuse this turmoil, the new Pence administration would probably try to project continuity. His time as a congressman would make him understand the importance of his fellow Republicans on the Hill, and it is reasonable to predict his first move on his first day would be to huddle with the GOP leadership.

READ MORE: Donald Trump is hurtling the world towards crisis. He needs to go.

The Cabinet would remain untouched at least in the short term. An effort would be made to prioritize Trump issues that were shared by Congress (like tax reform). More difficult but nonetheless popular elements of Trump’s electoral platform, like the wall, will get lip service. But it is hard to imagine much political capital being spent on them. Likewise, NAFTA would be safe once again, as would NATO—both being well supported by the party leadership.

America’s international influence would bob up like a cork overnight. It seems unlikely that the United States will ever be able to reclaim its post-Second-World-War leadership role among Western allies that disappeared so quickly after inauguration. And much of Washington’s power has leached away to the state and municipal level, especially on climate and trade. But some of that damage is repairable, and America would return to being much needed, if not indispensable.

Ironically, even a resignation will not save Trump from himself. It would be politically explosive for President Pence to bring an end to the Mueller investigation. I think we can take some comfort in believing that one way or another, the truth will come out. A pardon in the cause of national unity, however, is quite possible—even for the most egregious of crimes. This may not only be wise but necessary.

Pence would be faced with the almost impossible task of rebuilding the stature of the presidency, reinforcing national institutions and bringing together a divided nation. Even the most capable leader would find this task monumental, and Pence did not excel as the governor of Indiana. Regardless, fortunately or unfortunately, it is increasing likely we are going to find out if he is up to the task.


What happens if Donald Trump quits?

  1. This guy Trump, is like Andy Kaufman’s buddy, Tony Clifton(actually, acts and looks like him too), just when you think he is gone, bingo, he always comes back for more. Trump is not going anywhere yet, this is only a pipe dream by the MSM. When, and if Trump ever decides to go, and its because he is being pushed out, chances are their will be more of his fellow colleagues, following him. I would say Pence is now in the process of trying to get all his eggs in a row to be ready to take Trump out of office, and if Trump thinks Pence is behind anything that will help destabilize, undermine, or cause Trump to loose his office, than chances are Trump may spill some juicy stories about Pence that american citizens are not completely aware of, this has the potential to become a very nasty divorce from Trump and his followers. Pence has to be very careful, Trump relies on loyalty, if that bond is broken, Trump can throw a lot of shade at you.

    • How did the MSM allow the conservatives in the US to manipulate the credible media in the US? Because they(MSM) all followed and reported daily nuggets from Fox News, in order to get the latest Tweet from Trump, so if the MSM outlets thought it was OK to follow Fox News(Fake News)to get Trump Tweets, than i guess a segment of the american public thought it was real news, instead of entertainment. The MSM allowed Fox News to be the go to channel to receive daily pressers, tweets and information from the Trump campaign, by allowing Fox News to air on all the MSM channels daily, what a coup by the Trump campaign. Trump actually stole air time from media outlets in the mainstream in order to plug in to Fox News.

      • The MSM didn’t just report nuggets from FOX (the ONLY station that is not left leaning and therefore has more viewers than CNN, MSNBC and ABC combined)). They took those nuggets, distorted and twisted them and lost a ton of any credibility they had. If Trump is replaced by Pence he will get to implement all of the smart policies Trump got elected on but without all of the drama. CNN and the other lefties will have trouble filling any air time. How nice that would be!!

        • Jerome – why do you keep saying that Fox has more viewers than the other three combined? In Primetime that is not true – in fact MSNBC has beaten Fox on a few occasions. Rachel Maddow’s show is the most watched as far as I can tell. But just as important, why do you think being most watched justifies anything? You want to say anything positive about Rachel Maddow? Obama had very high popularity ratings – does that change your mind about him? Trump’s popularity is quite low at the mo – doesn’t say anything to you does it?

          • Obama was a charismatic, well spoken man. But as a President he was terrible. A Harvard study deemed him to be tied with Jimmy Carter. With Obamacare going down the sewer, his only “accomplishment” was the largest debt level in the country’s history. Over his tenure, he added as much debt as all of those who preceded him. Nice guy; abysmal leader
            Tucker Carlson on FOX is the most watched. There is only one significant news network in the US that is not alt-left where you can hear the other side of an issue and that’s FOX. I watch an issue on CNN and then I watch FOX for a while. You’d think they were on different planets.
            Last night, while CNN was ranting about Trumps racism, FOX showed clips of Trump from 1991 to the present where Trump disavowed the KKK, white supremacists and David Duke included 23 times. CNN, MSNBC and the other lefties keep asking him to state that!!

  2. We celebrate.

  3. Scott’s approach to writing his articles is not unlike the recently divulged Carl’s Jr. owner’s approach to preparing fast food.

  4. Then, on the other hand ….
    My money is on Ladbrokes to win.

  5. what happens if this nutjob resigns? the world of sanity and reason gives a HUGE sigh of relief….that this nutbar even made it this far is beyond me…says a ton about some of the delusional knuckledraggers who voted him in.

    • Your description of Trump supporters is aligned with Hillary’ “despicable” view. That helped her lose big time and people with comments like yours will help Trump to survive.

      • No not quite…problem was Dems never thought there were enough nutjobs who’d vote this asshat in…do they didn’t get out to vote…not next time I assure you…Dems will turn out in droves…plus Trump’s popularity is already falling as many Republican voters realize they’ve voted in frankenstein and are giving themselves a cold reality check.

  6. How easy has the job become for “journalists” since Trump got elected? You can bang out any drivel in 15 minutes and rest assured that the outlet will publish it as long as you make it about Trump. Wtf would Macleans even look like if Clinton had won? Like 80% of the articles are about the Donald, and with this Gilmore hack it’s 100%.

  7. If Donald Trump resigns, Scott Gilmore will get a terminal case of writers block.

  8. Send “Selfie Boy” down there. He’ll fix things up!!

  9. Is Maclean’s progressive politics fan fiction now?

    There is absolutely zero reason why Trump would quit.

    Ohhh, he’s temperamental so that means he will voluntarily give up the world’s most powerful job?

    Come on Maclean’s. You can do better than this.