As the Trump candidacy is running into serious problems, threatening not only the possibility of winning the presidency but Republican control of the Senate and perhaps even of the House, we hear that some political party leaders are considering an "intervention" to convince Mr. Trump to change his conduct of the election while others are reviewing the legal options to replace him with another candidate. I have closely followed Mr. Trump's activities over 34 years since my partner Howard Weingrow and I first made a deal introducing him to Atlantic City, by turning over the development we had assembled to build a hotel-casino there and become a lessor for his first hotel-casino -- the Trump Plaza Hotel. Based on what I've seen, I believe the solution lies in a deal to buy him out. After you think about it in relation to Mr. Trump's history and what he has said during the campaign, it's not as crazy as it sounds in an election that already has featured outlandish conduct never seen before in our history.
When Trump first entered the Republican primaries, I believed he had no expectation of winning but thought that he could enhance the value of his brand without significant cost because of the enormous exposure he would be getting. To his surprise, and that of everyone else, he won the primary and suddenly had to face the scary prospect that he might become president of the United States. While that office brings great power, it also imposes great responsibilities and limitations on the life the president can lead. I think Trump is torn between being a "winner" and showing all the people who have real wealth, compared to his claimed wealth, that he has reached the pinnacle of power, and on the other hand, burdening himself for four years of his life in which he also cannot earn any serious money or live free of restrictions. That ambiguity may explain his statement quoted in The New York Times, July 7, 2016, regarding what he would do if he won the election: "I'll let you know how I feel about it after it happens." The Times reporter Jason Horowitz added: "It is, of course, entirely possible that Mr. Trump is playing coy to earn more news coverage. But the notion of the intensely competitive Mr. Trump's being more interested in winning the presidency than serving as president is not exactly a foreign concept to close observers of this presidential race." All of that leads some people to ask: "is he really trying to win the election or lose it?" Whatever the answer is to that question, the fact is that at this point in time, he is losing the race and that is additional incentive for him to find a way out.
However, any effort for the Republican Party to force Mr. Trump out that would brand him a "loser" in his and other's eyes is bound to fail and lead to an internecine war that could destroy the Party for years to come. What is needed is a way for Mr. Trump to exit as a "winner" and in view of his value system and even the reason he originally entered the primaries, that incentive is a very large payment of money. Clearly, the payment cannot be characterized as a bribe to get him t o leave the race. Rather, it must be described as compensation to him for the huge amount of time and effort that he has bestowed upon the party, strengthening it by bringing in new adherents and enhancing its position. And the deal has to be negotiated now, when it looks like Mr. Trump is falling considerably behind Secretary Hillary Clinton, so that he sees the alternative to leaving the campaign as losing to her, a result that would be extremely distasteful to him. Should the circumstances change dramatically, for example, should there be a serious Jihadist terror attack on United States soil, he may see that as a opportunity that changes his chances to win and decide to go forward with his campaign.
There are three questions still to be answered: how much money would it take to get Mr. Trump to leave; what is the nature of the payment and where can the funds come from?
My guess is that the amount would have to be over $100 million so that it is both meaningful to Mr. Trump and something he can point to as a big success. In addition to that amount, the Party should repay him the funds he has laid out for the expense of his campaign. If the amount paid can be treated as a gift for tax purposes that would increase his net benefit, if it is a payment for time spent on the campaign then he may want more money to cover the taxes. The repayment of his advances should be tax-free. As for the source of funds, while the Republican Party can repay the money Mr. Trump has laid out for expenses, perhaps some of our real billionaires, like Warren Buffet, Michael Blumberg, Meg Whitman and Mark Cuban will be willing to perform a patriotic act for their country and end a candidacy of a man they consider dangerous to the nation, by gifting him the balance of the payment.
Robert K. Lifton is a businessman and political activist, former president of the American Jewish Congress, former Co-chair of the International Board of the Council on Foreign Relations Middle East Project, Founder, former chair and current board member of the Israel Policy Forum. His memoir "An Entrepreneur's Journey: Stories From A Life in Business and Personal Diplomacy" was published by AuthorHouse in 2012.