The good news and the bad news is that Donald Trump's newest absurdity of an attorney, Republican pundits, and Republican elected officials have all settled on what they believe Donald Trump's only defense against attempting to nullify the results of a U.S. presidential election might be. That should simplify things.
Oh, but the defense they've decided on is that Donald Trump had a "free speech" right to try to rig a joint session of Congress by crafting fraudulent slates of electors that were to be smuggled into the room and presented by then-Vice President Mike Pence. See, none of it counts as a crime if you believe in your heart that you should be allowed to overthrow the government for funsies.
I swear our discourse is getting stupider by the f--king minute, so let's break this down in terms that even somebody hired by Fox Freaking News can understand.
Hatching a scheme to stay in office can very much be a crime, if your "scheme" is "let's do some crimes" and then you do those crimes. Special counsel Jack Smith was very nice and spelled all of it out in the indictment's very first pages!
While we're talking about people who get stupider by the f--king minute, let's bring actual Republican Sen. J.D. Vance into it. Vance's whole shtick is that he thinks everybody in America but him is a stone-cold sucker willing to believe whatever Vance can pump into their heads, so let's point and laugh at him for a minute.
Look at this twit. Oh no, Trump said "bad" things! Specifically, he told the whole country that the election was rigged against him and Actually he had won it even though he and everybody else in the room knew that was not just a hoax, but a Rudy Giuliani/Four Seasons Landscaping/melting hair dye-level hoax. And nobody is indicting Trump for saying "bad" things, because if we indicted Trump for saying bad things we'd have to give him about 300,000 consecutive death penalties and not even the Department of Justice has that sort of time. Trump was indicted for taking part in a scheme to produce fraudulent election results that his team then attempted—but failed—to substitute for the real ones.
That is very much a big-boy crime. But getting back to the Fox News talking heads, who at this point are all so interchangeable there's no point in even learning their names, let's explain it with an analogy that even the “Fox & Friends” team could probably understand.
Let's say Donald Trump announced that he, personally, believed he should be allowed to eat human babies. That's a free speech issue, and he wouldn't be indicted for it. People would "whine" about it, to use the term J.D. Vance used to dismiss a four-felony attempted overthrow of government, but Trump could do that. "I enjoy eating human babies with Ketchup," Donald might write, and for the purposes of this analogy we will assume Trump continues to capitalize random words in no pattern anyone else can understand.
It would still be free speech if Donald, for example, had a new book ghostwritten under his name that consisted of nothing but a few dozen recipes for human baby. He could have someone digitally edit together an image of him eating a human baby. He could make it a fundraising ploy; send an appropriate headshot and, for just $200 per family, the Trump campaign will send you back a fake image of Donald Trump eating your baby, one you can paste into your previously purchased book of Trump’s ghostwritten baby recipes.
Let's say Trump then sits his ass down at Mar-a-Lago and actually eats a human baby. Now it's a crime.
Also a crime: If Trump were to tell the chef, "I want to eat a human baby, please find one and cook it and present it to me," if it results in the chef taking the first initial step of attempting to acquire a human baby for Trump to shove down his gullet. Trump has now conspired with another to commit what would already be a criminal act.
Does that make anything clearer? You can say almost any old bullshit you want. But you can't then go commit a crime. Saying it out loud first doesn't make the criminal thing not a crime.
So did Trump and his as-yet-unindicted co-conspirators commit an actual crime? Yes! Pence was nice enough to explain it again in public just this weekend, when he described Trump's lawyers coming back to him the day before the coup attempt to once again persuade him to fraudulently claim the submitted and state-certified electoral slates from multiple Joe Biden-won states were not the "real" electors.
This is what is known in less lawyerly circles as "doing a sedition." Trump and his team took a series of steps to forge fake electoral slates so that Pence could use their existence to fraudulently claim that the election's real results in those states were in doubt. Pence did not do this, likely because he thought the whole scheme was likely to end up with the co-conspirators lined up before a firing squad if he did do it and Trump attempted to call out the military to enforce the fraudulent "results." But Trump and his team tried repeatedly, for weeks and weeks, to make it happen.
Former House Republican Rep. Justin Amash also joined the parade of dipshits who pretended to not understand this, and your guess is as good as mine as to why Amash thought that because he didn't read the indictment, that meant nobody else would either.
Look, Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr is as crooked as they come, but even he wasn't willing to back an actual coup attempt. Like Pence, he also was nice enough to come back on our televisions this weekend, just so he could personally emphasize that Trump's scheme was a whoooooole lotta criming, super-duper-felony stuff. What's up with Fox News and Republican actual supposed lawmakers that they can't figure this out even when it's Bill Freaking Barr shoving it in their ear holes?
What's clear, then, is that there is no Plan B for Republican sedition backers. They're going to stick with the plan of pretending that Trump has been indicted for being Wrong about the election being stolen, while continuing to simply not bring up the actual scheme he was actually indicted for, the one where he and his lawyers attempted to swap in fake election results that would have him "winning" the electoral vote even though everyone in the room knew full well Trump had lost.
That they've been beating this same drum ever since the indictment first dropped is pretty solid evidence that Trump's legal team thinks the actual case against Trump is irrefutable on the facts. It's also another prime example of the Republican descent into a fascist movement. Republicans are attempting to justify an attempted coup by members of their party. There's not a scrap of remorse for the violence inside the Capitol or for the lies that the majority of Republican lawmakers and party officials spread that made it happen.
And Republicans are continuing to rely on the fascist move to, when the news cycle looks bad for Dear Leader or their party, promote hoaxes to compete with the bad news, putting the real news in public competition with fake versions. The notion that Trump has been indicted for his speech is plainly false. The indictment is publicly available, the charges are written out in plain language, and Republican media allies and lawmakers are coordinating an orchestrated campaign of lying about it in order to deceive the public—again.
If Fox News hosts believe that using fake documents to mount an attempted coup is not a criminal act, then they are objectively pro-sedition. It's not surprising, given the lengths conservative media have gone to gaslight their viewers into believing Trump and allies are noble freedom fighters while the politicians who oppose him are the ones who ought to be in jail, but it still ought to be extremely alarming. Faking the results of an election you've already lost is not, for fucking fuck's sake, a matter of "free speech." It's just a crime.
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