Donald Trump may or may not be arrested on Tuesday, as he blubbered on his Truth Social network this morning, but to me, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg’s petty little “zombie” case looks like Trump’s fever-dream come true, and a disaster for those of us who want real justice for Trump and his crimes.
With full knowledge of the two monumentally important criminal investigations bearing down on our treasonous ex-President and likely to result in serious charges — the Fani Willis investigation in Georgia into his illegal efforts to tamper with and overturn the election, and special prosecutor Jack Smith’s federal investigation of Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection — Bragg has chosen this moment to come at him with….I’m sorry, what? Paying off a porn star with some hush money? Which...isn’t even necessarily a felony, unless it’s….some kind of illegal political contribution because his Presidential campaign was….something something something whatever.
I’m not saying what Trump did was not a crime. But the idea that — after rejecting a pretty strong fraud case that several of his top advisors felt should have been bought but was instead abandoned as maybe not quite the slam dunk he was looking for — that now this little pea shooter of a case is what he’s chosen to come at the charging elephant in the room with?
And bear in mind that Trump has been carefully — well, not carefully but consistently and manically — weaving and elaborating his grievance campaign among his passionate and credulous followers — the campaign that explicitly states that powerful government officials are conspiring against him, teaming up and manipulating the law to get him so that he can’t regain the Presidency and destroy their elitist deep state cabal. Well, if Trump had planted a mole in America’s prosecutorial pool to bring a case custom-crafted to propagate this exact narrative, it couldn’t have been more effective than this flabby, penny-ante indictment Bragg seems to have brewing.
Nobody wants Trump in prison more than I do — well, there are probably some who do, since he hasn’t grabbed my genitalia or sold out my country to the Russians (oh, and on the topic of genitalia-grabbing, there’s also a pretty strong rape/defamation case coming down against Trump). But all I see from this pending Bragg indictment is upside for Trump and downside for democracy.
Already he’s marshaling his minions to rise up against the injustice of the weaponized deep state and its witch-hunting prosecutors — which he would have done anyway — but instead of facing powerful evidence that he interfered in elections by literally calling officials and telling them he needed votes; that he incited insurrection by literally telling people he knew to be violent to “fight like hell” — in short, instead of the battle America needs to have over whether we’re going to allow a strongman to run roughshod over our democracy or whether we’re going to stand up for the principles of equal justice, equal representation, free and fair elections, and the peaceful transfer of power — instead of that, we’re going to be arguing about whether a porn star payoff was also an illegal campaign contribution? Nice. Was the ex-President also jaywalking on January 6? Check those security cameras!
But it’s worse, because this case could profoundly undermine the real cases bearing down on Trump. Now, when those other cases are brought, they will inevitably be framed as nothing more than the continuation of the witch hunt that began with Bragg. Americans inclined to believe that false narrative will no longer have to engage with the mountains of incriminating evidence meticulously collected and presented by Willis or Smith because they will already have the excuse that the whole thing is rigged and everyone’s out to get their man — just look at how they fingerprinted him over that one little bad check!
I hope I’m wrong about all of this, but to me this pending indictment appears to already have done harm, and to be about to do a lot more harm. Or, if you’re Trump, the campaign for President in 2024 — and then President for Life — may be about to get a great big boost. Who needs Meatball Ron when you’ve got [warning: Truth Social link!] CORRUPT AND HIGHLY POLITICAL MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY Bragg as your foil?
I don’t know what Bragg is thinking, but I hope he thinks twice.
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