Donald Trump's charmed stretch defying legal gravity in spite of his penchant for self-incrimination finally came to an end last month, when he sunk himself in the E. Jean Carroll rape case deposition.
He claimed he had never seen Carroll before in his life and even if he had, she most certainly wasn't his type. Those twin defenses were hilariously blown apart when he was shown a picture of himself interacting with Carroll—and mistook her for his ex-wife Marla Maples.
Ultimately, the jury found Trump had sexually abused and defamed Carroll and awarded her $5 million.
Although the case was civil, not criminal, it marked the beginning of the end of Trump's luck evading the law. During his tenure at the White House, Trump successfully used his chief bulldog at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, to run interference on pesky inquiries ranging from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to the impeachment probe of Trump's efforts to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not to mention Carroll’s rape case.
But without his White House shield, Trump's publicly incessant blathering, blustering, and bullying is poised to cost him dearly.
In special counsel Jack Smith's federal probe of Trump's classified document scandal, the emergence of a 2021 recording revealing that Trump clearly knew he had classified information and was contemplating sharing it has provided prosecutors with a rare legal gem: proof of Trump's state of mind.
"The import of the new Trump audio is not that it eviscerates his defense that he declassified everything,” tweeted Justice Department veteran Andrew Weissmann, who served as a prosecutor during the Mueller special counsel investigation. “That was never a legal defense (nor factually plausible). The import is that he is caught lying to the public to gain support when he’s indicted."
Weissmann added that such a recording would be an "admission” that Trump "intentionally and knowingly" possessed a classified document, which is a crime if the document actually exists and Trump wasn't simply bragging to people about a document that didn’t exist.
Given the damning nature of that recording, Weissmann predicted an indictment is "days, not months" away. But either way, he firmly believes it's a matter of when, not if.
As if that weren't enough, now there appears to be a mad hunt for the document in question, which no one seems able to locate. Its apparent disappearance raises the specter that Trump might have followed through on his stated desire (in the recording) to share the classified information. Good thing Trump’s blathering gave the game away!
This week also brought news that the Georgia election fraud probe—built around Trump's recorded demand that the Republican secretary of state "find" the votes to beat Joe Biden—is reportedly expanding into examining Trump's activities in other states and the District of Columbia.
The Washington Post calls the news a "fresh sign" that Fulton County prosecutors and District Attorney Fani Willis could be building an expansive racketeering case against Trump.
[Georgia’s] RICO statute is among the most expansive in the nation, allowing prosecutors to build racketeering cases around violations of both state and federal laws — and even activities in other states. If Willis does allege a multistate racketeering scheme with Trump at its center, the case could test the bounds of the controversial law and make history in the process.
Trump is already facing more than 30 criminal counts of falsifying business records in the hush-money-scheme case brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
And Smith's probe of Trump's role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection is ongoing. Fortunately, there's no shortage of taped material there either, including Trump's post-insurrection assertion that he didn't want to admit the election was over.
“I don’t want to say the election’s over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, okay?” Trump insisted on Jan. 7, 2021, while filming outtakes for a video intended to help calm a roiled nation.
Trump remains the undeniable frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The initial Bragg indictment arguably gave him a small bump with Republican voters, but a gusher of criminal scandals awaits him in the coming months—or days, depending on who you ask.
We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.