Saturday, January 23, 2021
President Trump has only hours left in the White House — and the first few months of his time as a former president seem likely to be very different than any of his predecessors’. That’s not just because his popularity is plummeting and his party is splintering over whether to support or condemn him. He’s also leaving office with an impeachment trial and a host of other legal problems on the horizon — not exactly what you’d call a post-presidency glow.
Democrats spent much of the last four years debating exactly how they lost to a fairly unpopular and flawed candidate like Donald Trump in 2016 and what changes they needed to make to avoid another defeat. They debated if they needed to be more liberal or more conservative on policy; if they should be principally focused on the Sun Belt or the Rust Belt, on voters of color, white voters with college degrees or white voters without degrees; if they needed to nominate more white men as candidates or more women and people of color; if they had to talk about race less or economics more.
One of Donald Trump’s last significant actions as president was to issue a raft of pardons and commutations. With less than 12 hours left in the White House, he granted executive clemency to more than 140 people, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was charged in 2020 with defrauding donors as part of a private fundraising effort to build Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump also pardoned entertainers like the rapper Lil Wayne and several former congressmen.
During most of Donald Trump’s presidency, Congress was in a state of persistent deadlock, passing relatively few big pieces of legislation. But the Republican-controlled Senate stayed humming, nonetheless — thanks to a steady stream of judicial nominees from the White House.