It has been over a week since former President Donald Trump left office, but it is still not exactly clear what life as a citizen has in store for him. Trump has kept quiet since President Joe Biden took office, and avoided the public eye. However, most Americans agree that he is unlikely to continue that trend.
Trump left the presidency on Wednesday, Jan. 20, returning to life as a citizen — except for the perks afforded by his former office. He has stated outright what his career plans might be now, and it is hard to guess which course he will take. So far, Trump has publicly insisted that his presidency will go on, spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election with no basis in reality.
Those conspiracy theories are the best hint about what Trump will get up to next. The 74-year-old is unlikely to step away from politics completely, or to escape the scars that the presidency left on his personal brand. Even if he never so much as commented on U.S. politics again and focused entirely on real estate, it would be a part of his legacy.
Additionally, Trump is still dealing with the fallout of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and likely will be for the rest of his life. Any path that was open to him before is in question now, and anything he gets involved with risks associated with domestic terrorist organizations.
Still, Trump is unlikely to remain dormant for long as he has been since his presidency ended. One way or another, he will be back in the public eye. Here are a few educated guesses about what is next for the former president.
The most straightforward prediction for Trump is that he will return to the business world as the head of The Trump Organization — a New York City real estate development company. However, The Trump Organization is suffering some serious consequences from the Capitol riot, and it is not clear if Trump's personal involvement with the company would help.
Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey was stripped of its contract to host the 2022 PGA Championship after the riot, and New York City ended all contracts with him. These and other political departures come on top of the coronavirus pandemic hardships hitting all businesses, and The Trump Organization is carrying about $1 billion in debt, according to a report by Bloomberg. If Trump decides to jump back into his ailing business, success is far from guaranteed.prevnext
It also seems likely that Trump will maintain some involvement in U.S. politics going forward, though his second impeachment trial will dictate what kind of involvement. Trump has previously said he wants to run for president again in 2024, but if he is convicted of inciting a riot in the United States Senate, he will be barred from doing so.
Still, Trump has plenty of options outside of holding any office personally. For Republicans, Trump's endorsement of condemnation remains a make-or-break factor in a successful campaign. Many reports indicate that Trump has plans to seek "political revenge" on the Republicans who did not promote his conspiracy theories, especially election officials in Georgia and other battleground states.
Trump could also promote the campaigns of others, such as his family or close associates. This would be a way of signaling to his die-hard fans that the candidate he stands behind will be the next best thing to him, in their eyes.prevnext
Then again, Trump may seek to influence politics through TV news and other media, as some rumors already suggested before he left office. In November of 2019, The Daily Beast reported that Trump had talked with producers about starting a revival of The Apprentice, which he denied on Twitter at the time.
The issue here is that Trump remains banned from many mainstream social media outlets. The chances are good that most cable channels or networks would not risk associating with him either, so finding a platform could be the biggest hurdle to a Trump media career. However, he still has allies on some news networks that could help him out.prevnext
Even where Trump will live after his presidency is now in question. The former president lived in Trump Tower in New York City before moving to the White House and moved into his residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, full-time. However, on Friday, CNN reported that Trump's use of this home might violate zoning laws, and the town of Palm Beach is reviewing it.
Trump has properties all over the country and all over the world, and most of his personal residences are simply suites within those commercial properties. However, the communities that host those properties may be just as wary of a long-term association with Trump as the PGA, Twitter and other companies.prevnext
Trump's political power revolved around his social media presence, and any future endeavors likely do too. Trump is still banned indefinitely from Facebook and Twitter, and some are expecting him to get in on the hunt for an alternative app catered specifically to Conservatives. Communications consultant Nu Wexler told Bloomberg that Trump is perfectly positioned to help launch the next Parler.
"He has millions of cell numbers from events and a fundraising email list that dwarfs the rest of his party," Wexler explained. "So he won't have any problem communicating directly with his supporters."
Still, the downfall of Parler shows that building a social media outlet is no small task, and someone along the food chain could always decide it is not worth the risk to work with Trump. Beyond that, Wexler speculated that Trump would not be interested in such an insular experience, pointing out: "He won't get the thrill of fighting with Democrats."prevnext
Trump products are likely to continue, particularly as his red "make America great again" hats remain a symbol of defiance and rage. Some see Trump seeking to expand this form of influence and maintain a level of personal control over it. If so, this is unlikely to be the entirety of his career, but it remains an interesting thought.prevnext
Finally, there is a real possibility that Trump will spend some of the next few years behind bars. The former president faces a Senate trial for incitement of sedition, though his political clout may help him escape that unscathed. More concerning are the other legal challenges that have been on hold while he is in office.
According to Bloomberg, Trump could still face the consequences for the charges of obstruction of justice turned up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. He may also find himself embroiled in the campaign finance law case that put his former attorney Michael Cohen in prison. Finally, The New York Times' report on Trump's leaked tax filings pointed out several ways that he could face criminal liability for tax fraud and another misuse of money over the years.
Right now, the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney are reportedly pursuing separate cases against the Trump organization. He is also personally implicated in at least two defamation lawsuits in the case, both brought by women who accused him of sexual assault.0comments
On top of all that, there are the potential legal ramifications for his election conspiracy theories, including the phone call where he asked the Georgia Secretary of State to "find" him the votes he needed to win. After all of his accusations, Trump himself could be the one found guilty of election fraud in some form or another.
Trump remains alone in Mar-a-Lago, banned from most social media and generally silent in the public eye. So far, he has not indicated his intentions for his career going forward.prev