Those who have underestimated former United States President Donald Trump do it at their loss. Trump is a non-conformist, contrarian, relentless and energetic fighter. He does not accept that he cannot get what he wants; he doesn’t seek peace with anyone who disagrees with him; he feels strong enough to knock on any door and will gladly brake the door if it does not open. But current indications are that the doors ahead of Trump will be much stronger and may be impossible to open.
He lost his attempt to have a second term as president in 2020 when President Joe Biden won the election. Trump continues to claim without any proof or evidence that he won. And he has announced that he wants to be the next president of the USA in the future 2024 election. However, the number of obstacles in his path is mounting and his sworn enemies won’t play the game as gently as they did when they underrated him at his first major appearance in the political scene in 2016.
At the time, Trump overwhelmed every challenger. He dominated his party and public, and ignored the established tradition of decorum to political colleagues. All credible polls gave his main rival, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton of the Democratic Party, the lead and certainty to win the 2016 presidential election. It did not happen. Although Clinton got about three million more of the popular votes than Trump, the latter won the more superior electoral votes having 304 to Clinton’s 227.
In 2020, when time came for another election, Trump was already well known in politics. His supporters admired him greatly and his opponents disliked him intensely. He had polarized the USA like never before and the political turmoil has affected social relations. Trump lost the election but he did not fade away. He has kept his supporters busy, raising money from them and reminding them that he remains the best president ever, a claim that he makes about himself on every matter.
The immediate thorn for Trump emerged in full glare on April 4 at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City after he was indicted by a grand jury for paying an adult film woman (another name for a pornographic movie actress), named Stormy Daniels, to keep her mouth shut about her outing with Trump. This was not a crime in New York and many places. The crime was that Trump got his attorney, Michael Cohen, to make the payment and he reimbursed Cohen and charged the payment to his business account – falsifying business records. Worse still, the court heard that the payment was made to mislead the public regarding Trump’s integrity and standing – amounting to illegal influence of outcomes of the election.
Trump faces a total of 34 charges on this matter and related others. Cohen will testify against his former boss and he has already served a prison term for his part in the offence. He was disbarred in May 2019 by New York State from practising law.
Other charges against Trump are likely to come up. In Georgia State, Trump is being investigated for attempting to tamper with the 2020 election by seeking changes to the votes counted to favour himself, using his position then as president.
In another ongoing investigation, in January 2021 whilst the House and Senate were meeting to formalize the already concluded election of President Biden, thousands of armed and furious protesters stormed the Capitol and clashed with the police. The mob vandalized the offices, whilst the senators and representatives managed to escape. Trump may be charged for what he said and the roles that he played in supporting and actively encouraging the protesters that carried out what amounted to insurrection.
Also, for carting away loads of classified documents from the presidency to his private home at Mar-a -Lago in Florida, Trump is under investigation. He did not readily release the documents when the incident became known, unlike Joe Biden and Mike Pence who returned the documents immediately and pled their innocence when found with similar situations. Pence was the former Vice-President of Trump.
Any number of charges will arise from the plethora of investigations and the distraction will take money and time away from Trump who wants to focus on winning the support of his party.
His die-hard supporters are not easily discouraged though. They see the legal challenges as diversions and an attempt to discredit him. His loyalists seem to harden their positions and point to Trump’s successes in strengthening the economy when he was president. They also like Trump’s policies especially his anti-immigrant rules.
There are competitors for the Republican Party’s nomination but Trump remains the leading candidate to date. The former president is busy raising money to fight the legal battles. At the same time, he must raise money to fund his campaign. He will also be faced with finding the means to keep his businesses running as the Trump brand has lost a lot of clientele. His name has become toxic to many Americans and those who associate with him have become pariahs to millions of people across the world.
Yet Trump commands a superior chair where he sits with his supporters, especially one-third of the voters in the Republican Party who “worship” him. Trump’s supporters will do anything to get him back into the White House. His committed followers also believe sincerely though wrongly that Trump won the election of 2020.
Presently, Trump already stands uncomfortably as the first president of the USA – sitting or former – to be indicted by a jury for a criminal offence. The closest case was President Richard Nixon who was accused of involvement in the Watergate Scandal and he resigned as president in August 1974. Nixon was never tried and was pardoned by President Gerald Ford, who was Nixon’s deputy and who assumed office when Nixon resigned.
In many instances, what Trump wants Trump must get and when he knocks on any door it opens or he will force his way. Trump has been knocking on doors of fate and it has been kind to him in most cases.
The fourth of five children of his parents, Trump became the privileged one, much beloved by his wealthy property mogul father who showered monies on Trump and handed over most of his businesses to him.
Whilst he was studying at Fordham College in New York, Trump found his way to be accepted into the prestigious University of Pennsylvania where he got a bachelor’s degree, although the details are controversial.
Using his father’s wealth and business connections, young Trump showed personal talent in making bold moves. He got property deals with government officials and well-connected individuals. He is highly skilled at using the media and giving prominence to his assets and appearances. He usually makes claims about his abilities, business and wealth that are far beyond realities, according to many writers on his life and businesses.
Tony Schwartz, co-author of Donald Trump’s autobiography, “The Art of the Deal”, said in The New Yorker magazine that if he were writing the book today, he would have titled it “The Sociopath”. The author explained, “Lying is second nature to him…More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump can convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”
Trump had boasted in the past that he could shoot a person dead on upscale fifth avenue in Manhattan, New York, and it would not affect his popularity in the election of 2016. He tweeted many reckless statements, accused people wrongly and made many false claims, and he still got elected at the time.
But he does not always get his way. He failed in the 2020 election as his brazen claims did not convince the majority of voters. In addition, his mismanagement of Covid-19, inability to keep his friends’ loyalty and fate denied him the election. Cohen, his lawyer, was one of the closest trusted aides of Trump. Cohen changed his loyalty and is arguably today the leading enemy of Trump and has provided more damaging information on Trump than anyone else.
With the possibility of many criminal cases and possible convictions during the future campaign season preceding the 2024 election, Trump may become a huge liability for his party and the United States electorate. The question remains still whether the damage to him can weigh negatively enough to affect his chances to obtain the Republican Party’s nomination, and ultimately win the election as president in 2024. The answers remain open for the time being.
Bunmi Makinwa is the CEO of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership