Donald Trump’s options are increasingly being foreclosed by the Russia investigation, which almost certainly will lead to criminal charges against sons Donald Jr and Eric Trump, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner Jr., leaving his resignation as the best possible exit strategy to end one of the most divisive periods in modern U.S. history.
While it’s still problematic whether the President can be indicted, or whether Congress can muster the courage to impeach him, Trump’s family members and the Trump Organization are all certain to face criminal charges for various frauds related to money laundering, real estate wheeling and dealing, campaign violations and the Trump Foundation.
Trump’s only avenue to save them from jail is to negotiate his resignation. Otherwise, the president will have to throw his family and his real estate empire under the bus. Even then, he would still face the prospect of impeachment or indictment.
Martin London, a lawyer who represented President Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew during the Watergate prosecution, first raise the prospect of a Trump resignation Friday during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Agnew, who was facing bribery charges related to his time as Maryland governor, agreed to resign from office to avoid prosecution. Landon suggested that Trump could follow a similar course to keep family members from being prosecuted.
“It’s only going to get worse,” London said on the show. “We don’t know a quarter of what’s in the pocket of the prosecutor.”
Trump’s options were sharply foreclosed this week after his long-time lawyer and widely described fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to several charges.
The news was quickly followed by reports that Trump’s longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony in the Cohen probe. American Media owner and longtime Trump pal David Pecker also revealed that he’d received a similar deal.
All three are expected to tell the special counsel all they know, leaving virtually no stone unturned in Trump’s 2016 campaign and his myriad business dealings with Russian mafia figures and oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was also convicted in Virginia following a trial on eight counts of fraud and income tax evasion. He will stand trial, again, next month for lying to the FBI, money laundering and secretly lobbying for foreign governments.
It remains to be seen whether Manafort will also cooperate.
Mueller has been investigating Trump’s possible involvement with Russia’s cyber attack on the 2016 election, which was aimed at influencing the outcome in Trump’s favor. Trump won the election by only 77,774 votes spread across three states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The narrow margin of victory–less than 1 percent of the vote in each state–has raised some speculation that the vote was manipulated in some way by Russian hackers to tip key states to Trump. If Mueller’s investigation leads to that conclusion, the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency would be in doubt.
That’s led some leading Trump critics, like former Clinton Labor Secretary, Robert B. Reich, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, to raise the prospect of annulling Trump’s presidency.
“Suppose, just suppose, Robert Mueller finds overwhelming and indisputable evidence that Trump conspired with Putin to rig the 2016 election, and the rigging determined the election’s outcome. In other words, Trump’s presidency is not authorized under the United States Constitution,” he writes in a new think piece.
“Impeachment would not remedy Trump’s unconstitutional presidency because it would leave in place his vice president, White House staff and Cabinet, as well as all the executive orders he issued and all the legislation he signed, and the official record of his presidency,” he continues.
“The only response to an unconstitutional presidency is to annul it. Annulment would repeal all of an unconstitutional president’s appointments and executive actions, and would eliminate the official record of the presidency,” he explains.
The only problem is neither the Constitution nor current law provides a mechanism to annul a presidency. The scenario was never considered by the Founding Fathers.
Reich believes it would probably fall to the U.S. Supreme Court to declare his presidency null and void.
“The Supreme Court declares legislation that doesn’t comport with the Constitution null and void, as if it had never been passed. It would logically follow that the Court could declare all legislation and executive actions of a presidency unauthorized by the Constitution to be null and void, as if Trump had never been elected,” he asserts.
Short of that, it would take an act of Congress or a Constitutional amendment to establish an annulment process. The chances of that happening are next to impossible give the political hurdles involved. An amendment would have to be approved by 38 state legislatures and could take years.
That makes Trump’s resignation the best way to end this divisive period in American history, and remove the taint of Russian interference in our election.
Trump has a lot to gain if he chooses this course and a lot to lose if he doesn’t, not to mention the incalculable harm long, drawn-out trials and his impeachment would inflict on the nation.