Many have speculated that last weekend's impromptu visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was a way for President Trump to lay down a foundation for a possible resignation for medical reasons. But, being the businessman that he is with a nose for leverage, Trump may not be willing to give up the ship without a gold-plated escape pod.
While Trump has not demonstrated much prowess in dealmaking while President, his last deal in politics to avoid removal after impeachment could be a whopper. He might be willing to sell the farm - or sell out his friends - to skip jail, save his cash, and escape having his dastardly deeds paraded as a daily spectacle in the national spotlight. Every day impeachment hearings taint his brand. He'd want a resignation with as few residual effects as possible, and to do it NOW.
If current momentum plays itself out, Trump's unassisted fall could pull down many GOP leaders with it. The party could be rendered insignificant for a generation or more. No doubt party leadership is already studying which #Trexit schemes would be the least damaging; which issue to finally get on their high horse about. The Ukraine scandal could be that, but the collateral damage may be far too high. Trump tossing the Kurds into the jaws of Turkey has generated some rare dissent within the party, but the window for labeling this act as the last straw has already passed.
Republicans now sense that they need an easy way out without further festering. Democrats would need a lot on the table to give Trump these "outs" and keep him from paying dearly for his scores of impeachable offenses. The line in the sand might be for the GOP to cut loose both Trump and Pence, resulting in an instant Democratic President.
Oddly enough, Democratic control of the White House soon could be the best way for the GOP to regain party strength in the shortest amount of time. The economy is poised for its own collapse, and if that happens while Democrats run things, the low-information GOP base is likely to blame them. And with a different candidate for 2020, the GOP may have a shot at taking back the White House then rather than waiting another eight or 12 years.
Although Democrats are clearly in the power position, they will have to demonstrate that their primary goal is not to stomp the Republican Party into the ground and pave over the debris. While permanent comeuppance may feel wonderful, that's still putting party over country. That's not how healing from all these horrors should begin.
With all the above parameters in mind, let's see what everybody ends up with in a deal made to minimize the damage not only to the GOP, but to our nation as a whole as we look to salvage the reputation of our style of democracy. The Democrats need to be decisive, while allowing for the GOP's survival.
So here is how the deal of this century can be structured.
Trump resigns, but gets to choose what impeachable offense he'll cite as the reason. Ukraine can't be it since that whole episode is unraveling before him. Citing that as the reason for impeachment would admitting defeat, thereby empowering Dems. A better exit story would be admitting wrongdoing in the conspiracy with Michael Cohen in paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a clear campaign violation. He can also claim health issues if he needs a little extra sympathy from his base. But resigning for health issues alone means no deal with Dems, and those attack dogs will keep on the trail regardless.
If he does go for this plan, Trump will agree to use all remaining money left in his inaugural fund towards paying back money earned in violation of the emoluments clause. If any money is still owed, that can come from his current campaign fund. He will issue no pardons before leaving office to anyone connected to his misdeeds. And he will offer closed-door, sealed testimony of his co-conspirators after leaving office. That way he can't expect to be pardoned for perjury.
Pence is sworn in, but the deal requires that he is only President for two days. In those two days he's only allowed to do three things of importance. Since Trump wouldn't do this deal without a blanket pardon, Pence will give him one. Trump's family, however, won't get off completely. Don Jr. and Jared Kushner will have to plead guilty of obstruction of justice and conspiracy for different acts, but each will receive a suspended sentence and serve no jail time if they implicate co-conspirators. No pardons on Trump extend forward, however, so any future crimes can be prosecuted.
The second win for Pence will be signing significant legislation that has bipartisan support. This can be something like a comprehensive firearm background check bill, perhaps the one that already has made it through the House. The third accomplishment for Pence will be to fire the ICE leadership for allowing private contractors to willfully house refugees in cruel conditions. If there is any true Christianity in Pence's veins, this nod to the Golden Rule will be what he's able to cherish from his short legacy as POTUS 46.
That same day, change will come to the House. Nancy Pelosi will step down as Speaker, and Hillary Clinton will be voted in as new Speaker of the House. This position does not require currently holding office in that chamber. Then the following day, Pence will also resign, again citing a reason of his own choosing.
Clinton will become the 47th US President, and the first woman. And she will pardon Pence on her first day. She will name Stacey Abrams as her VP. Abrams, already stung by voter suppression tactics in her governor's race in Georgia, will immediately take the lead in pushing for election and campaign finance reforms. Pelosi will return to Speaker and add Abrams' input to a re-write of H.R. 1, the House bill focusing on campaign finance and election reforms.
Clinton, however, will not seek re-election and today's candidates will be able to continue their bids for the White House. Whomever prevails, Abrams will be their running mate.
So let's see how everybody wins: