Daniel Hemel on Trump's Possible Resistance to the Peaceful Transition of Power

Trump’s financial peril might encourage him to reject the election results

It is easy to overstate the electoral implications of the New York Times's bombshell report on President Trump’s taxes, but it would be dangerous to understate them. On the one hand, those revelations are unlikely to swing the outcome of the general election. If more than 200,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths didn’t change voters’ minds, it is hard to fathom that $750 will make the difference. Yet the Times story also provides a worrisome key to understanding how events are likely to unfold this November.

If there is one piece of information that helps to explain why Trump really might resist a peaceful transition of power, it is this: The stakes for Trump this fall are far greater than for past presidents seeking reelection. For him, a loss would mean not only the end of a political career, but also — potentially — personal and financial ruin. Trump’s alleged tax shenanigans may or may not saddle him with a $100 million debt to the IRS, and they may or may not send him to prison, if they’re illegal. But he lives in the shadow of both possibilities. His behavior over the past several weeks becomes more understandable — though no more justifiable — once one realizes that he knows the walls are caving in.

To be sure, the fact that a self-described billionaire pays less in federal income taxes — just $750 in 2016 and 2017, according to the Times — than an unmarried full-time worker earning $9 an hour is significant in its own right, apart from its electoral consequences. It tells us something profoundly disturbing about the state of our tax system. But even more disturbing is what it tells us about the possible fate of our electoral system — and the lengths to which Trump might go to undermine November’s vote.

Read more at The Washington Post

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