On Jan. 23, 2017, Donald Trump’s fourth day as President, he met with congressional leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House. “You know, I won the popular vote,” he started off, and then repeated the calumny that Hillary Clinton had received three to five million illegal votes, owning to fraud. “That’s not true,” Nancy Pelosi replied, according to “A Very Stable Genius,” a new book quoted by The New Yorker. This claim by Trump is spooky, even more so if he really believed it. Yes, it’s about time we discussed President Donald J. Trump because we’ve heard so little of him since he took office.
Two items: First, do you think Trump will ever leave office? That’s not a stupid question. Have you seen those signs: “Trump in 2020, 2024 and 2028?” His paranoid suspicions surfaced in the 2016 election. “You have 1.8 million people who are dead, who are registered to vote, and some of them absolutely vote,” Trump told Sean Hannity during an interview. On Election Day, he charged that the outcome was “largely rigged.” It was rigged, of course, as Vladimir Putin knew so well.
Now the President apparently plans to stay in the Oval Office, no matter how the next presidential election goes. Michael Cohen, the President’s fixer who is now in jail for fixing Trump’s strumpets, said, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Joseph Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas who studies elections, said, “I think we know that Trump will certainly, no matter what the result is, be likely to declare that there was fraud and that he was the rightful victor.” In a speech attacking the media, Trump said, “They are a bunch of fakers, there’s no question about it. But in six years, they’re all going to be out of business, folks. Now if we want to drive them crazy, I’ll say in ten years. They’ll go crazy. See. He is a despot. He is a despot. Well, ten or fourteen. Watch, they’ll be headlines tomorrow. Donald Trump wants to break the constitution.” Since assuming office in January 2017 until this past February, Trump has made at least 27 references to staying in office.
He often followed up such quotes, or threats, with a remark indicating he is “joking,” “kidding,” or saying it to drive the “fake” news media “crazy.” PoliticusUSA, a liberal news outfit, noted: “No president has ever joked so much about wanting to violate the constitution and stay in office like Donald Trump. The president is terrified of losing reelection because he is likely to face a criminal indictment as soon as he leaves office. Of course, Trump would love to remain president for ten or fourteen years. The statute of limitations would expire on all of his crimes and he would be good to go.”
“Violating the Constitution” is a major roadblock to Trump staying in office. George Washington stepped down after two terms and every president after George followed his example, until Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ran, and won, a third and then a fourth term. In March 1947, a Republican-controlled Congress, still seething over FDR’s power grab, approved the 22nd amendment which limited a president to two terms, except for the president in office during the ratification process. Thus Harry Truman, the “president in office,” was the only person who could continue as president forever. Truman died.
Item Two: Trump may politely step down if he loses the 2020 race, or he might be pulled out from the White House by two burly Secret Service agents, him kicking and screaming, “Fraud! Fraud!” In any case, there will be yet another presidential library. (Texas already has three, the most of any state.) Universities usually fight to land a presidential library — prestige and scholarly conferences. Rice and UH reportedly tried to land George H. W. Bush’s library by jointly proposing a site that would take up half of Hermann Park. Texas A&M got Senior George’s library, thinking it would have eight years’ worth of memorabilia. Then along came some hayseed from Arkansas. Richard Nixon planned to give his papers to Duke University, where he went to law school. An uproar by its professors killed the deal. Finally, the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif. opened in July 1990. Until 2007, Nixon’s was the only privately maintained presidential library — overseen by the Nixon Foundation, which is generally described as a group of Nixon loyalists. It’s now a part of the presidential-library system administered by the National Archives.
Now about money. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, cost $3 million in dollars of those days. John F. Kennedy’s library in Boston cost $25 million. LBJ’s Taj Mahal on the UT campus cost $18 million at that time. George W. Bush raised $500 million to build and endow his shrine. Obama is set to double that mark. But before we get all knotted up, private money – again, private money — builds the structures, the feds – that’s us – keep them running. Taxpayers spent about $66 million on presidential libraries across the country. That’s about 21 cents per U.S. resident.
Would the Trump Library & Hotel be located in Trump Tower? Probably, because it doesn’t seem like universities are clamoring for it. When asked his alma maters about the subject, they declined comment. As for Trump, he’s confident he’ll have a presidential library, somewhere. “I have a lot of locations actually. The nice part, I don’t have to worry about buying a location.” But the National Archives, which by law gets presidential papers, says it’s having trouble securing anything, but we can imagine the Stormy Daniels exhibit, his federal tax records, and the Three Wives Wing. As for the cost of the library, don’t worry. Mexico will pay for it.
Ashby’s library is at email@example.com