It is now clear exactly what President Trump is doing, and it is very, very smart. It is also morally and ethically wrong, breaking democratic principles and values for personal ambition. Here is what he is doing, and why.
Every outgoing president in American history worries about his legacy. This, plus a love of country, usually combines to create a certain amount of dignity and grace towards the democratic process that has removed him, whether as a one term or a two term president. In the case of Donald J Trump, we are witnessing an opposite outcome from the same motivation. He is absolutely focused on his legacy and the future.
Joe Biden wrongly floated recently that blocking a smooth transition of power would tarnish President Trump's legacy. Sadly, the president-elect misunderstands what President Trump is doing.
President Trump has never seen the world through the lens of history. Making America Great Again was always about putting him in power. America is great, when he is in power. Policy doesn't matter. It is easy to make a list of Trump policies which blatantly contradict classical Conservative beliefs. Rather he shapes the present narrative and action items to a picture of the future that is based on his personal ambition. He looks forward, which diminishes the importance of accuracy in the present or lessons from the past.
He knows that he has lost. Yes, he was shocked the morning of November 4, and he had a hard time coming to terms with that undeniably fact. But everything he has done since then has been simply positioning himself for future power.
1) The lawsuits are a vehicle to raise money to pay off debt. The email and text machine is grinding forward relentlessly. 40% of the funds go to the Trump election campaign and the RNC, which have bills and debt from the failed election to pay off. The lawsuits and the chicanery about "we won," "We will win," "This will not stand" and more is a boon to them to be able to continue to fundraise for that election even after it is done.
2) The lawsuits are even more-so a vehicle to raise money for Trump's unlimited and unspecified future political activity out of office. 60% of the funds being raised, according to the solicitations' fine print, are going directly to a new PAC, started by the Trumps, called Save America. This PAC is not connected to any lawsuits or the Republican National Committee. It is a pure political slush fund for the President and stays under his control after he leaves office.
3) Trump is actively devaluing his competition and propping up his next media investment through his Twitter account. I have previously predicted that he will buy One America or Newsmax as a platform for his voice once out of office, remaining a thorn in the RNC's side for the indefinite future. His move in that direction is brilliant right now, with dozens of tweets explicitly telling his followers to leave Fox and watch those two far-right networks, which have been republishing his conspiracy propaganda with great enthusiasm. Previously far out fringe networks have gained millions of followers at his behest in the last two weeks. This is a play to drive his base, and curiosity onlookers, to a media platform that he will control - and perhaps own and profit from - moving forward.
4) He is creating a narrative for a future run for re-election, either for him or Ivanka. Donald Jr. is a distant second choice to his sister. The election was stolen and illegitimate will need no proof on his new network with his "always Trump" followers.
5) He is "cleaning up" his unfinished business, all in ways that will harm the next president while making him look great in a future narrative to reclaim the White House.
- First, he is pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq faster than the military feels is prudent. He fired his defense secretary last week (who does that after losing the election?), after the secretary sent a scathing memo against such a pull out. Trump promised he would bring the troops home and end the endless wars. If he leaves the troops in the theater of engagement, he loses a strong talking point for the future.
- Second, this past week he opened up most of the Alaskan coastline east of Prudhoe Bay to long term energy company contracts for drilling and exploration. By claiming energy independence based on non-renewable sources, it is inevitable that the independence will be short lived. If Biden is not successful at broad renewable energy, and simultaneously restricts drilling in those areas, Trump has a powerful talking point for the future.
- Third, he seriously considered a military strike on the Iranian nuclear program in the past week. The Iranian policy, for all its machismo, has failed miserably under Trump. Iran has rapidly escalated its potential military nuclear research in all areas since Trump pulled out of the multinational Iran Nuclear deal. If Trump could blow up those advances on the way out the door, he would be able to claim that his policies were successful. Wiser heads seem to have prevailed, due to the risk of broad regional instability that would be provoked by an act of war 7 weeks before leaving office.
So here is the plan:
Hype election fraud as the mechanism to raise millions of dollars to retire debt and fight forward after leaving office.
Move his base to a less expensive media outlet, capable of takeover and monetization after leaving office.
Close off all loose ends of former promises, especially military and energy related, while creating untenable facts on the ground for the next president.
So, no. Do not expect that the president will concede the election at any stage of his game before leaving office. His fundraising power would immediately cease, and his future resources would dry up. He has serious work to do, and the "chaos" is his oil well to live off.
And there is nothing you can do to stop him, unless you are one of the people being suckered into another donation to "save the election" that will be re-directed into his own private war chest for the future.