Why Trump Might Resign Soon

Why Trump Might Resign Soon

As the president's legal battles catch up to him, the possibility of resignation looms.

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On December 16, during his nightly Hardball show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews speculated that President Trump would resign in the coming weeks. Matthews suggested that the unpopular president might take the fall to ensure his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., could be acquitted of all charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Although this outcome seems far-fetched given the rarity of White House resignation (the last president to do so was Nixon), the overwhelming amount of scandal surrounding the Trump administration suggests the President may not finish a full term. At the moment, nearly everything tied to Trump is under investigation: his organization, his campaign, and his foundation, just to name a few. Perhaps the most pressing danger to Trump, Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 investigation, has become even more of a threat in the past few months, with the indictment of three former advisors.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser whose greatest qualifier for the job was a brief stint on his high school's Model UN team, was the first aide to go back in October of 2017. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his knowledge of Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. He received a 2-week sentence.

Following Papadopoulos, there was Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn; the latter was indicted on 25 different counts by Mueller, most of which is dealing with his connections to Ukrainian politicians. Most recently, and perhaps most shockingly, was the arrest and sentencing of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who faces a three-year sentence in prison beginning March 6.

Mueller first began his investigation of Cohen, dubbed Trump's "fixer," back in 2017, but handed it over to the US Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York shortly after. At first, Cohen struck a deal with this office, pleading guilty to eight counts of finance-related charges. Among these charges were violations of campaign finance laws on behalf of Trump, who coordinated with Cohen on hush money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who claimed they had an affair with Trump prior to his campaign.

In November, Cohen struck a plea deal with Mueller when he disclosed the details of a potential Trump Tower in Moscow, a real estate venture that never came to fruition but nonetheless involved the Russian government. Even this deal couldn't save him from jail time.

It's worth noting that although these have been the most high-profile consequences of the Russia investigation, a total of thirty-three people have been indicted by or have plead guilty to Mueller -- including thirteen Russian citizens. If the arrest of a few advisers doesn't seem significant to you, that fact should make you think twice about the state of Trump's affairs.

The litany of investigations and lawsuits facing Trump brings us back to the original question: will Trump resign anytime soon? The answer may rely on how much immunity he has from the legal situations that surround him. Unfortunately, the extent of this immunity is unclear, given the lack of legal writing on presidential crimes. The Constitution does not say whether or not a president can be charged with crimes, though a recent opinion from the Department of Justice asserts that sitting presidents cannot be indicted. Additionally, sitting presidents cannot be sued for official actions taken while in office, but personal and unofficial actions can be sued in a federal court. And let's not forget about the presidency's unlimited pardoning powers.

All in all, it's hard to bring a president to trial, and even harder to send them to jail. So maybe Trump isn't scared of his illegal past catching up to him, and maybe he won't find it necessary to resign. This decision would seem to fit his ego. But there's always the threat of impeachment, a possibility that's been brought up by eleven members of Congress and has support from 40% of Americans. Could this prompt resignation?

In any event, Trump remains the most unpopular US president to date. His approval ratings continue to reach new lows, and his frequent Twitter outbursts never cease to invite widespread criticism. Even if he doesn't resign, Trump's many legal battles ensure that he will never be held to the same standard as his more "presidential" predecessors.

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My Best Original Screenplay Oscar Predictions Based Solely On The Writing, As It Should Be

Let's focus on the writing, not the politics.

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The Oscars are almost here, so it's time to make predictions.

Except, if you're like me, you probably haven't seen all the nominated movies. This year, I realized I had not seen any of the films up for Best Original Screenplay. This was a bit of a failure moment for me as a hopeful future screenwriter, but I took the opportunity to do something everyone always says to do when you're learning—read scripts.

I decided to read these scripts and make my predictions based solely on the writing, as it should be. I read each script, then watched the trailer and read a few articles about the movies to answer any questions.

And here's what I decided.

"The Favourite"

I'd heard great things about this movie before reading it, so I was excited to study this screenplay. It was well written, I will be honest, so bravo to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. But, it still left some to be desired. It definitely has its good qualities and is justified in its being a, well, fan favorite.

Except, the script relied heavily on subtext for commentary. Any narrative, no matter what time period it takes place in, will be held against the current societal environment regardless of intentions. However, it was clear that this film's intentions were to place a female voice in history and in current outlets. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. However, this film does so with disregard for true equality. The female focus is at the men's expense, which is not true equality (but that's an argument for another time).

I actually found the story predictable. The story tried to build suspense around the war, but even that seemed like a second priority to the writers after the love triangle. The script didn't explicitly tell the reader "how to feel," but it was strongly implied by the end.

"First Reformed"

This was a solid film written by Paul Schrader. Each scene really does move the plot forward which is story 101 but still important to note sometimes. Even the scenes that seemed like they would be time fillers allowed for the voice-over narration of Toller's journal.

This voice over was a nice touch of characterization and introduced well in the first scenes. This introduction was so well written, I could see exactly how it would play out, which is textbook screenwriting. The dialogue was believable. The setting description was a good balance and told part of the story too.

But there was that ambiguous, "La La Land"-dream-sequence-ish ending though.

"Green Book"

Okay, this one. This film is important and was skillfully written, so definitely a bravo to Peter Farrelly, Brian Currie, and Nick Vallelonga.

This film spoke to racial equality in the sense of true equality—meeting on the same level. It took place in one of America's shameful times and followed a white man realizing how things really are for those different from him and learning how to use his privilege in a way that helps and not harms. Like Dr. Shirley said, "You never win with violence." And as far as movies nominated in this category based on true stories, this did the best at maintaining the integrity of the original.

The writing was phenomenal. There was a personality in the action. The characterization was shown, not told. This was done through the actions, letters, reactions, how the characters treat others and how other characters treat the main characters. There was evident development in growth in the two main characters Lip and Dr. Shirley. It ended nicely, and the scenes were paced well.

"Roma"

This story would be better as a novel, in my opinion. The descriptions were beautifully written, so much so that every time there was dialogue or a scene change, I was roughly drawn out of the story. For a script, the action was almost too artsy and I could tell that it would be better visually than in writing. There were a few inconsistencies, like how Pepe calls Cleo "mom" in the beginning when Señora Sofia is actually his mom. Of course, this was probably meant to be just a kid crying for his mom when he was tired, but it leads to some confusion going forward when introducing characters.

This film was artfully written by Alfonso Cuarón. Most of the time, there was a good balance between detailed and vague descriptions (except that one part that described the color of the sky even though this is a black and white movie). I was struck by the impactful use of sound descriptions woven into the script, such as the car horn or the plane flying overhead. This was something that was present in the other scripts but didn't make as much of an impact, in my opinion, as it did in "Roma"

"Vice"

Oh goodness, where to begin? Adam McKay begins this script with an indignant tone in the superimposed text saying they "did their f***ing best" to tell a true story. But did they? No. If this Best Original Screenplay award is based on the writing, then "Vice" is shockingly nominated. If it's based on political people-pleasing, then I guess the nomination makes sense. The film is riddled with a bias to the left. It assumes the viewers agree with the flat narrative of the film and that we all see the characters as the one-dimensional people they movie portrays. The film even addressed this bias at the end, but the way they did didn't level the playing field at all, but just pandered to that bias, trying to pick a fight. Well, they shouldn't be dignified with a response, in my opinion.

But I digress. The writing. That's what we're here for.

Unfortunately, even the writing was objectively bad compared to the other scripts. And I don't say that lightly. It read like a school project that was completed the night before it was due. There were typos everywhere (notably, "due" was spelled "do"). The story and scenes seemed willy-nilly thrown together with the only goal of pushing an opinion. The framework and organization were centered around how best to convince the viewer of McKay's views, not tell the story. It's a very serious subject that's covered here and could've been handled better instead of this script that reads like a comedy with political propaganda tendencies.

And now, my predictions for best original screenplay go to...

I'll break this down into categories.

My favorite: "Green Book."

What should win: "Green Book."

What will probably win: "The Favourite."

They all have a chance, but if "Vice" wins, then what are we all here for? The writing, or politics?

The other films all had their stance in politics without taking away from the story being told. "The Favourite" was female-driven with LGBT aspects and classist themes while telling the story of Queen Anne and her ladies. "First Reformed" critiqued megachurch culture, environmental activism, and big business while telling Toller's story of grief. "Green Book" also had some classist themes and attacked racist tendencies in a way that can educate and change minds by telling a historical story. "Roma" was the story of a family set in cultural and political context. But "Vice" was just about politics and not the story.

Let's focus on the stories. Let's focus on the writing.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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