Gage Skidmore / Flickr trump leaning...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

There really is no longer serious question about Donald Trump’s fitness for the presidency.   He is a clear-and-present danger to the country, the world and the Republican party. 

The latter is important because, like it or not, the fact is that only the Republican party can get rid of him.   But, Republicans face a dilemma.  Stick with Trump and the taint grows ever stronger. Ditch Trump and about 25% of the electorate may turn against them, a loss they cannot afford.

If they ditch Trump, moreover, he will become an impossible thorn in their sides, railing against them, holding his own rallies, telling people that they were robbed of the leader they elected.  It is unlikely they would survive.  

But, there is a solution.  It is benign. It does not leave Trump with an obvious enemy, nor even with much standing with his supporters.

This is it: Pass a law with veto-proof majorities (as they did with the Russian sanctions) that instructs the IRS to publish on its website the last 20 years of tax returns of any sitting president and vice-president.

Note that this law does not command the president to do anything.  Publishing the tax returns is a mere administrative function.  It would apply to all presidents and vice-presidents, present and future.  It is good governance.  It is perfectly constitutional. It is not, as some have tried to suggest, an ex post facto law as it does not apply retroactively and is not, for that matter, a criminal penalty.   Nor is it a Bill of Attainder.  It applies to all presidents and vice-presidents from the day of its enactment.

Now, consider the interests and actions of the different parties.

Donald Trump.   Nothing, not the presidency, not even his family, is more important to Trump than his brand.  The tax returns are almost certainly going to reveal information that destroys that brand.  Hence, Trump will resign.  Since he would not be the sitting president, his returns would not be published under this law.

The Republican Congress.  Sure, Trump would blame Congress. but how sustainable is that attack?

After all, he resigned.  He abandoned his supporters in favor of covering up his tax returns. Republicans did not get rid of him.  He resigned.   All other presidents published their own returns. He repeatedly said that he would publish his returns when the “audit” was finished and, when he did so, everyone would see that they were “beautiful”.

Alternatives such as impeachment and removal after trial in the Senate, or invoking the 25th Amendment, require profiles in courage.  By contrast, this strategy requires few profiles and very little courage.  

Trump supporters.  Their hero, who told them that it was all about them, abandoned them to avoid showing his tax returns that he kept pledging to reveal. What exactly is the rallying cry?   That everyone knew he was corrupt after he repeatedly said he was not only clean, but beautiful.

The country and the world.  We would all enjoy a yuge sigh of relief.  The political battles would resume, but they would return to a context of what passed for sanity before electing a sociopath/narcissist as president.   Trump would still be around trying to create mischief, but if Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, he will likely be spending a lot of time fighting to stay out of jail.  

Fifth, Michael Pence.  He would be stupid to pardon Trump.  He would need to keep Trump distracted.  And, he might recall the fate of Gerald Ford in the next election following his pardon of Richard Nixon.  [The Constitution did not give a president the power to pardon himself.]

This is it.  It is the only way out.

The country, the world cannot survive another 3.5 years, and there is a chance Trump would win re-election anyhow.

Forget about whatever benefit this route may provide Republicans over impeachment or allowing the stench to grow by doing nothing.   Getting Trump out of office is the paramount issue of our time.  

Republicans, moreover, cannot claim that they have no viable alternative.  This is it.  If they do not act, they are complicit with no excuses for their complicity.

No one likes to go in for surgery.  But, for cancer , the sooner it is excised the better for the body, and the body politic.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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