You’re fired! Now what?

He’s not a normal fired employee.

January 11, 2021 6:00 am

Former President Donald Trump is the only president to be impeached twice. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The catchphrase — “You’re Fired!” — well associated with Donald J. Trump the real estate celebrity, is now the practical problem for Americans, the bosses of Donald J. Trump our outgoing President. But the question is no longer whether to fire him but how to best handle it.    

If you’re fired, you don’t usually stick around long. Allowing the terminated worker to stay even a day requires trust that the employee will continue to act in good faith for the well being of the business.

Clearly, that’s the problem America is experiencing now with our most important job position. The employee to be removed cannot be trusted. For a lot of reasons, we’ve never feared there could be a problem between the election and the inauguration of the new president. Among them: The honor implicit in the office; the good will that should follow from patriotism; the very generous severance package; and the value of legacy — what ex-president wants to be known as a sore loser or having put self over country?  

But we, the employer, must adapt to what we have at hand, which departs from expectation. 

In a business setting of any size — from small nonprofit to Fortune 500 — concerns about the potential ill will of a terminated employee necessitates steps to minimize potential damage. That could include limiting the employee’s access to company bank accounts, physical plant, workspace and technology to protect assets and other workers from the nefarious influence of the fired employee. An employer would also have an interest in preventing the fired worker from misusing the company’s public communications, as well as intellectual, strategic and operational assets.  

The needs for immediate security measures are often more critical for higher up positions, given the reach and access of such an employee. Larger companies that are able to afford significant operational security typically take advantage of such infrastructure by establishing routine protocols for terminations that can be applied for all, thereby providing blanket protection against risk regardless of necessity and without need for individual assessment.  

For the business of the United States, the urgent question is how to solve this difficult termination in a way that protects all of our assets. Some have raised using the 25th Amendment, but the text of that requires that the removed president is “unable,” which is not a precise description of an employee fully capable of doing the job, but who will do so destructively.

Without other means of risk reduction, that unfortunately seems to leave only impeachment. One must recognize, however, that many elected Republicans are impacted by the President’s operational risk, as well as his influence on their constituents, and may wish to avoid a vote. 

As many Republican Senators just faced this dilemma when affirming the election and courageously opted in defense of the country, it would seem that Democratic Senators in reciprocal good faith should not push for a vote their colleagues are not fully on board with.

It therefore seems advisable that the House immediately vote to impeach, but with the publicly expressed assurance that the Senate may choose not to act on it pending another indication that suggests otherwise.  

Not the ideal way to proceed until January 20th, but an attempt at political de-escalation while preparing to protect our American assets. 

And not the way it would happen if the President was employed by anyone else.

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Michael Friedman
Michael Friedman

Michael Friedman is the former executive director of the Legal Rights Center. He previously served as chair of the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority, serving in that capacity for three years.