Welcome back to Sunday Four-Play! This is the fourth installment of this column and the third to feature a brand-new Donald Trump indictment (or superseding indictment). It wasn’t planned that way, of course—but man, I’ll take it. The only person who could possibly be more over the moon (over-the-moonier?) right now is the high bidder for the Krispy Kreme concession at Rikers Island.
At this rate, I estimate Donald Trump will be indicted 2,472 times before I retire, upload my consciousness into Mike Lindell’s Ring doorbell, and convince him Jesus has been ding-dong-ditching him every night and leaving dead raccoons on his front stoop. (As an incorporeal algorithm, I won't be able to physically supply the raccoons, of course, but then that’s what GrubHub is for, isn’t it?)
Considering Trump is fast approaching a critical threshold wherein the number of felony charges he faces (currently at 91) exceeds the number of brain cells in his head not exclusively devoted to running Flying Toasters, you’d think he’d focus on his mounting legal woes. But no.
This is what he’s doing:
Donald Trump’s campaign is upping its efforts to stop Republicans who use his name and likeness to fundraise without the former president’s consent.
On Friday, the campaign announced that it would begin giving a “Seal of Approval” to Republican candidates and groups Trump endorses, in order to help the party’s donors distinguish between those outfits that the former president supports and those that are trying to raise money off his name by falsely conveying they have his backing.
“Unfortunately, some candidates, PACs and their fundraising vendors have drained millions of dollars from President Trump’s donors by falsely claiming that they support President Trump, that the president supports them, and that funds received in response to the solicitations will support, help, or defend President Trump,” the campaign said in a statement.
Yes, you deserve to know if you’re sending your hard-earned dollars to an Official Team Trump scam or some sketchy, unaffiliated knockoff. You don’t want your money being spent on some skeevy stranger’s porn-star payoffs, do you? Well, with the Trump Team Seal of Approval, you can rest easy knowing your donations will go toward covering up an official Team Trump scandal.
Donate at the contributors level ($25 or more) to help Team Trump buy back the negatives of your favorite president masturbating to “Saved by the Bell” reruns in the McNugget sauce pantry at Camp David. Come in at the platinum level ($10,000 or more) and you and a guest will be invited to watch Walt Nauta languidly shovel quicklime onto a freshly murdered corpse in a shallow desert grave outside Reno. Give now! The need has never been greater. (Note: These are hypothetical scenarios, not real Trump scandals. As far as any of us knows, anyway.)
But hey, enough of my yakkin’. Whaddya say? Let’s boogie.
In the past several decades, the quality of GOP presidents has decayed faster than caesium-137. (Radioactive isotope jokes! You won’t get that from Maureen Dowd’s column, I can promise you that!) In roughly 40 years, we’ve gone from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Trump. At this rate, the next Republican president will be one of Ed Gein’s living room sofas. Which would be an upgrade, to be fair.
And that’s a perfect segue for our first guest, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, one of the almost famous Republicans pretending to run for president this cycle.
Burgum’s strategy is identical to that of most of his primary opponents—be a boring guy with no perceptible personality and nothing interesting to say, and by all means be deathly afraid of saying anything negative about Donald Trump.
He joined Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” to unveil his finely honed “Donald Trump? Who the fuck is that?” strategy.
TODD: “You know, it’s been interesting to me in a couple of interviews, plus in the one we just had now, you’ve been quite comfortable bringing up Hunter Biden on Joe Biden, but it’s remarkable to me how uncomfortable—and you’re not alone here—you are bringing up the legal problems and the charges against Donald Trump. And I get it, it’s fear of alienating a majority of where the party is, but it’s sort of odd. Wouldn’t somebody being charged with 91 criminal counts be somebody that you’d want to see drop out of the race? Should they even be running for office?”
BURGUM: “Well, again, Chuck, voters get to decide who runs for office in America, and whether it’s a local election or whether it’s state or federal, the voters are the ones that ultimately get to decide. And, again, if we’re going to live in a democracy, at some point we’ve got to trust the voters.”
TODD: “I hear you on that, but it is interesting that you don’t want to share your opinion on that. I think some voters will be frustrated by that.”
BURGUM: “Well, Chuck, again, everybody’s at a different place. If I had 100% national name recognition, if I’d run for president before, if I was living in a major media market and everybody in the country knew me, that would be a different spot. But I know from the private sector, when we were launching our little company that we then built over a period of time into a billion-dollar company, you don’t start out by attacking the market share leader, you start by telling people what you’ve got to offer. You don't have a basis to launch that, and like I said, there’ll be segment after segment on every channel this morning, all the pundits lined up, and I’m not running for pundit, I’m running for president.”
Okay, that’s quite enough from Gov. Pablum. Or whatever his name is. I’ve already forgotten, and he’s sapped me of the energy I’d need to scroll up and look.
Seriously, though, what the fuck is wrong with these people? Just before the 2016 presidential election, Trump said this of Hillary Clinton: “We could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt.”
Hello! That’s relevant to our current discussion! Maybe shove that inconvenient little fact up Trump’s luffing bum instead of, you know, your face.
As I mentioned last week, Chris Christie is the only Republican actually running for president this cycle. As such, one might be tempted to give him credit and hope he wins the nomination. For one thing, New Jersey would be a slam-dunk for Biden. Then again, there’s a real danger that the rest of the country might somehow find him appealing. And we sure don’t need that.
So go Doug Burgum! We’ve already covered Ramaswamy-mania. Who else here has Burgum Fever? (You know, that sounds uncannily like a real disease one might contract in a muddy World War I trench or something. Luckily, the infection appears to be well contained. You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.)
Let’s stick with “Meet the Press” and our overarching “Republicans are weird, cringey cowards” theme.
Republicans running for president this cycle appear to fall into four camps: Those under felony indictment in four separate jurisdictions; those willing to criticize the indicted guy; those waiting around for the indicted guy to go to prison and/or choke to death attempting to swallow a luau pig whole; and those who assume the indicted guy will win and are hoping he picks them as his running mate.
Needless to say, the “Meet the Press” Roundtable is not impressed with this lot. And Politico’s politics bureau chief, Jonathan Martin, has a notably unsympathetic take.
TODD: “You heard Gov. Burgum there, and look, Jonathan, I’m not surprised by the answers he gave me on this—this is what, he’s been sticking to his guns. Is that a viable path?”
MARTIN: “Well, speaking of an illustration about the larger theme—what a great example of a missed opportunity this morning. You’re on national television and you don’t take an opportunity to say something about the biggest question, not only in this race, but in American politics, in global politics, okay, which is the possible return of the former president, and you don't say a word about it. And I think, Chuck, that really captures this, I think, very, very weak, weak field. Where’s the creativity, where’s the imagination, where’s the enterprise, where’s the initiative? Give us something, try something, take a risk. These candidates out there wonder why their numbers aren’t moving, why this race is static, basically. Well, you’re not doing anything outside the box. The person with the biggest talent in the field is Chris Christie, and obviously he’s frontally attacking Donald Trump—which, yes, hurts his numbers, but at least he’s got something to say about the biggest question in the race. These other guys are basically walking on eggshells or saying nothing at all, and just buying time, hoping against hope. Chuck, we’ve seen that movie; it’s called the last seven years in the party.”
Thank you! If any longtime Trump devotees are looking for an opportunity to get off the bandwagon, this is it. Now. Next stop, perdition. Magical thinking is what got us into this mess, after all.
Trump is unlikely to keel over dead before the Iowa caucuses, so it might actually be necessary to attack him directly. No time like the present, folks. Every day you put it off, you just look more foolish.
ABC “This Week” has a scoop! Remember when Donald Trump claimed he’d declassified all the highly sensitive documents he stole from the government with his proprietary X-Men Cerebro helmet? Guess what! Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says that’s all bullshit!
Really, you can check it out for yourself:
But that’s not our third clip. This is. It’s Mike Pence rebuking Trump in the only way he knows how—meekly, and without malice. He sat down with ABC’s Jonathan Karl to discuss what it’s like to run for president without really trying.
KARL: “I want to start with our new reporting about Mark Meadows. As you know, Donald Trump has claimed that all those documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago he had declassified, but we are learning that Meadows has told investigators that he knew of no such broad declassification order from Donald Trump. What about you? Had you heard anything to suggest that the president had issued an order, even a standing order, declassifying documents like that?”
PENCE: “Well, first of all, the handing of classified materials is enormously serious in the life of a nation, but I can’t really comment on your reporting, but in my case I was never made aware of any broad-based effort to declassify documents. There is a process that the White House goes through to declassify materials. I’m aware of that occurring on several occasions over the course of our four years, but I don’t have any knowledge of any broad-based directive from the president. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t occur; it’s not something that I ever heard about.”
That squishy sound you hear is an intestinal fluke trying to worm its way out of a toxic colon without alerting its host. Good God, Mike. Trump tried to kill you. You’re allowed to twist the knife, and no one would begrudge you if you did it with evident glee. I’d even grant you temporary dispensation to caress your nipple through your Phyllis Schlafly onesie just a bit while you discuss this with Mother. Just show some emotion for once. Anything, for fuck’s sake. Even if it’s gross.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo had a meeting of the minds on “Sunday Morning Futures.” It was like watching two peas being fired at each other at 6 miles per hour and missing.
They had their own thoughts on Trump’s looming indictments, and they were quite unlike any thought you had during all those years you wasted not adoring Donald Trump.
GREENE: “This is a conspiracy, a grand conspiracy by the Democrat [sic] Party to use the justice system at the federal level, but also in the states, using these state DAs like in Georgia, Fani Willis; they’ll use Arizona’s, they’re using New York’s, and they’re using this giant collaboration basically to affect the 2024 election. But, Maria, let me tell you something, Americans are not going to have it.”
Yes, how could the justice system even think of pursuing a former president who continually commits crimes out in the open and essentially dares prosecutors to indict him? It’s clearly a vast left-wing conspiracy.
Alternate explanation: Donald Trump committed lots of obvious crimes while scarcely attempting to hide them, and somehow people noticed. But that seems particularly far-fetched, now doesn’t it?
But wait! There’s more!
That’s all for now. See you next week, fellow Four-Players!
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.