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Trump's Miami Perp Walk
Plus: Vibe shift?
“The chandelier hanging in Trump’s toilet was his dynasty in a microcosm: something opulent and gaudy, a caricature of wealth that screamed for our attention, while hoping we would not notice any potentially dirty deeds happening below.” — Geraldine DeRuiter, the Washington Post
Donald Trump gets his second perp walk today, and it is worth reminding ourselves that everything happening is a result of everything we have known about Trump for years.
If only we had been warned.
“What makes it so ridiculous that we’re here and we’re in a situation where there are people in my own party who are blaming [the] DOJ,” Chris Christie said in an en fuego town hall meeting last night. “How about blame him? He did it,” Christie said. “He took documents he wasn’t supposed to take. He kept them when he was asked [for] them back. They got a grand jury subpoena. He refused to comply. They raided his home finally because he refused to comply.”
So, this afternoon the former president will be booked and arraigned (assuming he can find a lawyer who holds their bar membership lightly) at a federal courthouse in Miami. He will then be released into a country that has to grapple with the prospect that this man who has been charged with 37 new felonies (on top of two impeachments, a civil verdict holding him liable for sexual assault, and 38 felony counts in NY) may once again be president.
“I am your retribution”
I think it’s safe to say that MAGA is not taking any of this well, but it’s worth noting just how badly this is going: “Trump vows to ‘go after’ Biden’s family in bitter Truth Social rant before boarding Miami arraignment jet.”
The ex-president ranted on Truth Social that he planned to use the power of the federal government, should he be elected to the presidency in 2024, to personally target Mr Biden’s family.
“I WILL APPOINT A REAL SPECIAL ‘PROSECUTOR’ TO GO AFTER THE MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE USA, JOE BIDEN, THE ENTIRE BIDEN CRIME FAMILY, & ALL OTHERS INVOLVED WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR ELECTIONS, BORDERS, & COUNTRY ITSELF!” fumed Mr Trump in an all-caps rant posted around noon.
It was a stunning declaration that throws the future of America’s justice system into question as such a move would wholly eliminate the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice, should he be successful.
You can’t say we have not been warned.
And then there was Steve Bannon, who faces his own criminal charges:
My Kevin beclowns himself. “Kevin McCarthy Seems to Think a Bathroom Is an Acceptable Place to Store Nuclear Secrets.”
Q: "Was that a good look for the former president to have boxes in a bathroom?"
Kevin McCarthy: "I don't know. Is it a good picture to have boxes in a garage that opens up all the time? A bathroom door locks."
Nota bene: Bathrooms usually lock from the inside.
Ironic headline of the day: “Trump aides concerned Miami courthouse protest will escalate to violent 'disaster’.”
“Inside of this event, there is going to be a disaster,” a Trump aide anonymously told The Daily Beast. “There are going to be people that come out that don’t want to be peaceful.”
The same confidant added: “You get the fanatics coming out.”
How did this happen? It’s a complete mystery.
Please don’t get your hopes up that the GOP is having any sort of fundamental change of heart (it’s not), but this seems worth noting. Some Republicans are tentatively, slowly, carefully, just barely dipping their toes in the shallow pond of rationality. Notes Aaron Blake:
On Monday afternoon, both Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley went further than they had before in suggesting that maybe Trump actually did something wrong. Scott called it a “serious case with serious allegations,” while Haley later said on Fox News, “If this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.”
In today’s Bulwark, My colleague Mona Charen runs down the (admittedly small) number of Republicans and/or conservatives who are acknowledging the seriousness of the new charges.
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy … said, “Well, the most damning piece of evidence to me is the audiotape. I mean, you want to talk about consciousness of guilt? You want to talk about knowledge and intent? I mean, those are the darlings of a prosecutor’s nursery, and that came from President Trump’s own mouth.”
Asa Hutchinson (whom Trump called “Ada”) called on Trump to withdraw from the race and had some words for Vivek Ramaswamy, who has made pardoning Trump a campaign promise:
It is simply wrong for a candidate to use the pardon power . . . of the president in order to curry votes and in order to get an applause line. That really undermines the rule of law in our country that I have served my lifetime supporting, and it is offensive to me that anyone would be holding out a pardon under these circumstances.
Mona concludes by asking that age-old nagging question:
Would the country be in a far different and healthier state if more Republicans had responded the way these people did? Indubitably. Would it have been better for the entire GOP to have taken an off-ramp many years ago? Without doubt.
But that cannot blind us to the fact that right now, some former Trump allies are telling the truth, and that may just influence a few Republicans who’ve rarely heard this kind of thing from their own side before.
On the other hand…. Writes the Wapo’s Philip Bump:
There is no voice who could convince Trump’s most energetic supporters of the idea that he willfully violated the law. There never has been. Anyone who tries to present the reality of the situation to his base, however close they were to Trump at the outset, is immediately exiled.
The truth has no place in Trumpism.
A World Series of Whataboutism
On Monday’s podcast, Will Saletan and I discuss the various defenses, rationalizations, and evasions of Trump’s defenders — from Lindsey Graham to Jim Jordan — and the danger of violence.
How the WI GOP lost its mind. An update.
On Friday, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told WISN-AM's Jay Weber that he had no intention in running for U.S. Senate in 2024. Instead, Gallagher told Weber, he would focus all of his attention in Congress on the growing tensions with China.
If I were Gallagher, my attentions would be abroad, too.
At home, Gallagher's ambitions may have been easily thwarted by the less sane of his own political party. As former Fond du Lac County Republican Party Chairman Rohn Bishop said on Twitter, "Trump would come out against Gallagher, and he wouldn't win the primary."
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, bears this out. It found Gallagher trailing former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke in a hypothetical race for Senate by 20 percentage points.
From the poll conducted June 5 and June 6:
Q15 If the Republican candidates for US Senate next year were Sheriff David Clarke, Mike Gallagher, Eric Hovde, and Tom Tiffany, who would you vote for?
Sheriff David Clarke ........................................ 40%
Mike Gallagher................................................ 20%
Eric Hovde ...................................................... 3%
Tom Tiffany ..................................................... 10%
Not sure .......................................................... 27%
Yes, it's very early, and yes, Clarke may not run. And I'll even note that the poll uses Clarke's former job title without mentioning Gallagher and Tiffany are congressmen. But it does show that while Gallagher was the favorite candidate of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he was not the runaway favorite among Wisconsin Republicans despite his higher profile.
Wisconsin Republicans who don't remember what Gallagher said on January 6, 2021, about the pro-Trump violent takeover of the Capitol would have been reminded of that and what Gallagher said later about not supporting a Trump candidacy. While Gallagher has often been frustrating with his refusal to vote for impeachment of Trump, he has been a Trump critic at times.
“If Mike got in, everybody would know that’s the total package,” Brian Schimming, the state’s Republican party chair, told Politico. Well, not everybody.
When Trump campaigns in Wisconsin next year in advance of the presidential primary (which he is leading) and then in advance of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, it's hardly likely he would agree with Schimming.
Instead, it's more likely the anointed Trump candidate would have the same success in the Wisconsin Senate primary as GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels had after he embraced Trumpism in 2022.
And when Republicans lose to Sen. Tammy Baldwin -yet again- in 2024, will they blame themselves or will they resort to blaming vote fraud?
1. Six Defenses Trump’s Lawyers Might Try
ALL TOLD, THE BEST DEFENSE for Trump is probably delay, delay, delay. The case has been assigned to Judge Aileen Cannon, who penned the disastrous opinion granting him a special master to review the documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. Trump appointed her, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals roundly reversed her. Trump could file enough motions to enable Cannon to reasonably use her discretion to drag things out.
2. Trump’s Best Defense Is No Defense at All
There is nothing Trump can do that his sycophants will not excuse and defend. They defended him when he bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, when he encouraged his supporters to beat up protesters exercising their First Amendment rights at his rallies, when he refused to concede an election he lost, when he did nothing for nearly three hours as a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, injuring 114 police officers, when he invited antisemites to dine with him at Mar-a-Lago, and, now, when he stored nuclear secrets in unsecured boxes in public areas of a resort.
The GOP future. Great job, guys.