But once Trump leaves office for good, the prizes that have fed his appetite and driven his presidency—adulation, importance, obsessive attention—will be gone. History will cement him as a one-term president who entered the political world in a dramatic escalator ride, and exited clinging to the tablecloth as the chinaware went crashing to the floor. An impeachment conviction in the Senate could prevent him from holding office again, defanging his political machine. His celebrity friends will have scurried from his brand. The major networks will have labeled him toxic. No one of consequence will call anymore.
You can imagine the coda: Trump living out his days, comfortable but grumpy, in a gilded prison on a golf course. He golfs, he dines, he broadcasts his version of the world on what amounts to an oversized ham radio. He scrapes up money to fund his defense from a long string of court dates from entities he’d never feared before—New York district court, various corners of the Justice Department. Maybe he has a Newsmax show, or a brisk ongoing business in MAGA hats, or he sells tickets to rallies to make money.