Setting aside for the moment his conduct as president, Trump faces a financial and legal reckoning of immense proportions as soon as he leaves office. If he loses, he will no longer have protection from an avalanche of charges and lawsuits against him, his family, and the Trump Organization. His years of alleged tax evasion will be officially scrutinized—and far more publicly than before he held office. He will no longer be able to claim (falsely) that his taxes are still “under audit” and unavailable. Trump properties and investments could be frozen, seized or plummet in value. The true nature of his extraordinary personal financial debt—recently reported as $421 million—will be exposed, and his likely foreign creditors revealed. Surely adding to his worries was the announcement on October 15 by the IRS that it is indicting Robert Brockman, a wealthy Houston software magnate, in its largest tax-fraud case ever. The action against Brockman shows that the IRS is not afraid to go after big fish who attempt to circumvent their tax obligations.
Personality and longstanding habits are key factors in assessing a subject’s likely future behavior and choices. Even the most casual observer knows that Donald Trump is heavily invested in his self-image as a successful businessman and wheeler-dealer. He takes pride in flouting norms, finding loopholes and playing fast and loose with laws and the truth. If his private financial house of cards is put on harsh public display in high-stakes government and state-level litigation, the aura of celebrity and success that Trump has cultivated for decades is not likely to survive intact. There is nothing in this president’s demeanor, past or present, to suggest that he has the fortitude or integrity to face auditors, prosecutors, or anyone else who challenges him, particularly if the outcome is likely to involve public humiliation and loss of assets, prestige, and power. The option of salvaging what he can by relocating to a jurisdiction beyond the reach of U.S. laws would not be a stretch for someone who has long been openly disdainful of our tax and legal systems.