Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting for a Trump Library

Author Anthony Clark explains in Politico why he doesn't expect it to happen
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2021 12:27 PM CST
A Trump Presidential Library May Not Happen
President Trump speaks to supporters before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Every president since FDR has had a presidential library, and Barack Obama is currently working on his version of one to continue the tradition. What about Donald Trump? The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump likes the idea of raising $2 billion from his grass-roots supporters and opening one in Florida. But in a lengthy piece at Politico, Anthony Clark—author of a book on presidential libraries—assesses the chances and concludes that a Trump library probably won't happen. No, it's not because Trump famously doesn't spend time reading books—"presidential libraries aren’t that kind of library," notes Clark—or because of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. It's because the process is way more expensive and complicated than you might think, and the particulars don't seem well suited to Trump.

"If he does build a library, it’s likely Trump would want the legitimacy and imprimatur of the federal government, as a 'seal of approval' for his story, told his way," writes Clark. For that to happen, Trump would have to raise the money, buy the land, have it built, raise hundreds of millions more for maintenance—"and give it, almost unthinkably, to the government." Trump also could opt to go his own way, outside the National Archives system, as Obama is attempting to do. But the upkeep gets expensive in perpetuity, as the Richard Nixon library (which started independent, then joined the rest) found out. Clark floats the idea that Trump might take a more "Trumpian" route: He could license his name to "a for-profit enterprise—maybe a casino, or a golf course, or a ticketed museum with an attached hotel—to operate as a tourist attraction for the MAGAs and the (morbidly) curious." (Read the full story, which points out that Trump's legal troubles could make it tricky to pick a site.)

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