If you’re looking for a reason why Donald Trump does anything, think first of marketing principles. Other U.S. presidents have been greatly concerned with their legacy, the judgement of history, all of that frou frou which doesn’t interest Trump one jot. The only description he cares about is his financial statement, and that has been looking pretty grim lately.
Trump’s latest — although by no means final (No, the presidential library will be that) — grift, is to send screaming emails to his supporters, telling them he needs donations for a legal fund to fight the results of a rigged election. Now, the only problem with that, is that none of the money he’s raising is going towards a legal fund.
Take three and a half minutes and listen to Robert Reich engagingly describe Trump’s legal defense fund grift. It’s entertaining, enlightening, and absolutely true to Trumpian form.
As to the Trump Presidential Library, do you recall a 2019 story here, where Trump and Vanilla Ice were considering the purchase of a 43 acre trailer park in Florida as the library site? That might still take place. But wherever the *library* ends up being, the foundation funding it will just be a Trump money making machine. Washington Post:
With a big war chest, the hallowed “permanent campaign” of the modern presidency could achieve its final form in a foundation dedicated to burnishing Trump’s record. Such a foundation could easily generate enough revenue to support endless functions at Trump resorts, hotels and Mar-a-Lago. It could even prove a launchpad for political careers for the next generation of Trumps — or, given that the president would still be in his 70s, for Trump to pull a Grover Cleveland-esque comeback himself.
There are other problems facing the presidential library system. A culture of accommodating presidential interests rather than insisting on nonpartisanship is one (as a small agency, the National Archives lacks the clout to stand up to former presidents or their families’ pressures on Capitol Hill). Stagnant budgets and atrocious agency morale are others.
The cost to the public’s understanding of history is real, not least because it now takes decades to fully process and release contemporary presidential records. A 2019 National Archives memorandum reported that the George W. Bush library had a backlog of 158 million pages and could process only 650,000 pages per year (a theoretical holdup of more than 240 years). And since presidents can restrict access to their most sensitive materials for up to 12 years , there’s a good chance that no substantial records will come out during Trump’s lifetime.
I don’t know what those “substantial records” would be anyway. Trump’s love letters to Kim Jong Un? Transcripts of telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin, which nobody even knew were taking place? Nobody in Washington, that is. We found out about a few of these conversations via the Kremlin.
The Trump song will soon be over but the malady of Trumpism lingers on. And his rubes continue to shell out. And that’s all he cares about.