An outgoing president retains his powers during the transition and Donald Trump will not hesitate to use them to promote his interests and harm his successor.
Donald Trump’s presidency will be controversial until the last moment.
His refusal to admit defeat and his insistence on convincing his millions of supporters of the illegitimacy of the next president have already shown that he will not leave without poisoning the atmosphere.
And it’s not over. Even if the president’s daily schedules of public activities are singularly empty, he will not be idle between now and January 20.
In foreign policy, Donald Trump is not encumbered with the reserve usually shown by outgoing presidents. For example, he announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, which allows aerial reconnaissance as part of disarmament agreements.
Joe Biden has already signaled his intention to re-enter this treaty, but Trump has ordered that planes assigned to this surveillance be immediately scrapped, which would complicate matters significantly.
Vladimir Putin will not complain about it. Russia has been grumbling against this treaty for a long time and could take advantage of the American departure to justify its own withdrawal.
The move came as no surprise, but it is now expected that more presidential decrees will come to sow obstacles in Biden’s path.
Yesterday, the president announced his decision to pardon his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to criminal charges of lying under oath before withdrawing that plea more recently.
This pardon follows that granted to Roger Stone and signals the high probability that other pardons will follow for those close to Trump such as Steve Bannon or Paul Manafort, not to mention the “preventive” pardons that the president could grant to members of his. family – or to himself – to make them immune to federal criminal prosecution.
If we add to this the revenge he has already taken against those he deemed disloyal and that he could still take before his departure, it is clear that he will stop at nothing to use or abuse his power in order to promote their personal and political interests.
Scorched earth policy
Beyond the actions already committed, one can wonder how far Donald Trump will go in this tactic clearly aimed at harming as much as possible his opponents or detractors, regardless of their party.
Already, those preparing to take over in the management of the pandemic have lost precious weeks because of the obstacles it has sown and, in several ministries, the Democratic officials of the transition expect tricks.
Even Republicans are petrified at the thought of upsetting whoever talks about coming back in 2024 and who could continue to harm those he deems disloyal for a long time even if he doesn’t return.
Like the Trump presidency, this transition will show us all the colors.