Hell yeah, this cartoon was spot on. pic.twitter.com/w9KnCGaDAH
— Jen (@JenTusch) June 10, 2023
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 11, 2023
… Donald Trump was and is a continuing crisis for the American republic. I would never deny that. I’ve made this claim central to almost everything I’ve written about him going back almost eight years. But managing our own emotional and cognitive equilibrium is central to handling someone like Donald Trump. That is both to live in a sane and ethical way while he marauds through our political life and because bending reality is central to the kind of threat he presents.
At a political rally yesterday Trump said this prosecution represented the “final battle”. The threat of violence in that statement speaks for itself. But this is Trump’s basic pattern. Everything is the final battle, the biggest this or that ever, the biggest surprise, the biggest hoax, the final showdown. It’s this hyped up, florid moral state that keeps his supporters spellbound and his foes constantly guessing and often off-balance.
It is wise not to participate in the reality distortion field the man whips up about him. This man is not the President. Yes, he is a leading candidate for President. But he declared his candidacy when he did to a great degree because he knew these charges were coming. Before the indictment and now more expansively in the indictment, it’s clear that these are far from technical violations of the law. They show a willful theft of government secrets, on-going deception about the theft, continued efforts to deceive federal agents trying to recover the government’s secret documents. The conduct is so brazen and over the top that it would be virtually impossible for any prosecuting authority to decline to prosecute other than on the basis of Trump’s status giving him immunity from the law or for fear of the violence of his supporters…
Will Trump diehards commit acts of violence? Maybe. But I’m going to wait to see them do it. I’m not going to pump up the psychic tenor of the moment based on what they hint they might do on Twitter. When a Freedom Caucus dead-ender like Clay Higgins hints at mobilizing a Trump guerrilla army I am going to properly refer to him as another terror-inciting degenerate and basically say, ‘Go for it.’ That’s not taunt or bravado. It’s just a refusal to get psyched out. If that’s what you need to do, do it and we’ll go from there. I will assume federal authorities are taking all necessary precautions. And that’s it. If there’s another version of those feral goons plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, federal authorities will arrest them.
It’s important to react to each development on the merits and not get ahead of it.
Trump’s indictment is very straightforward and unsurprising. I’m not going to get waylaid or bamboozled into pretending otherwise.
We follow the rules of law, in all their unevenness, because we are the ones arguing *against* ‘Because I can’ as a guiding principle. Ken White (Popehat), from his Substack: “Jack Smith, Donald Trump, and the Kobayashi Maru”:
… Yesterday, on our Emergent Situation Episode of Serious Trouble, Josh and I sparred a bit over the moral and political philosophy of Jack Smith’s decision to prosecute. I pointed out that the somewhat predictable assignment of the case to Judge Aileen Cannon — who proved herself to be an arguably lawless Trump partisan when she entertained his attempts to derail his own investigation — will make it extraordinarily difficult to convict him. If Judge Cannon presides over the case she can derail the prosecution in myriad ways, some of them unreviewable, if she wants to. Moreover, there’s reason to doubt that a Florida jury will convict Trump. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, striking Trump down with a federal indictment may make him more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Trump will use the prosecution to energize his base, propagandize “independents,” and fundraise from rubes. It’s very possible it will make it easier to win the Republican nomination and plausible it will help him win the Presidency, which he will use to pardon himself and further demolish the rule of law….
… [T]he Principles of Federal Prosecution suggest that if Jack Smith thinks that if Trump’s prosecution serves an important federal interest (it does) and the evidence is objectively factually and legally sufficient (it is), then he’s bound to bring the case even if Trump’s popularity makes a unanimous verdict difficult, risks a partisan judge, and threatens political upheaval. As Josh suggests, Jack Smith can and should make strategic decisions about what approach is soundest and most likely to lead to conviction. But the indictment in this case is overwhelmingly strong – one of the most devastating on its face that I’ve seen in my career. If Jack Smith can prove those facts, that is far more than enough to convict Trump. The only arguments against it are political.
In my view, it’s also the morally and philosophically correct course.
First, jury nullification can be a force for justice and a bulwark against tyranny. It can also be an expression of ignorance and bigotry and an expression of injustice. Prosecutors should consider justice but not be deterred by the chance that jurors should be unjust. Anything less means that you let jurors decide who is or isn’t protected or bound by the rule of law.
Second, some judges will always be partisan, and some politicians will seek to appoint or elect partisan judges. It’s not fair. But nobody promised you it would be fair…
Third, it’s corrosive and unjust to say that we won’t hold people to account because they are popular and powerful. The system doesn’t need more of that, thank you, we’re all stocked up. It’s already a fact, we don’t need to make it a policy as well. Strongmen already fare indescribably better than normal citizens when facing the justice system. Going full-on junta and making it an official principle of prosecution not to prosecute the powerful means abandoning even an aspiration of equality before the law.
Fourth, yielding to people who say “if you punish me or my friends for breaking the law I’ll hurt you” is a terrible way to run a society. It’s governance by thugs. If someone says “if you apply the rule of law to hold me accountable for my conduct, I will later abuse the rule of law to punish you,” you know that person is a dishonest, dishonorable partisan. There is no rational basis to believe that a dishonest, dishonorable partisan will ever behave well. In other words, the proposition “Trump and his cronies will abuse the system if we prosecute them, but if we don’t, they will behave” is deeply dubious. Paying the Danegeld — whether in coin or in abandonment of principles — doesn’t deter the Danes from reaving any more than throwing bacon at a dog makes it run away. To the contrary, abandoning the rule of law to avoid angering Trump and his ilk makes them bolder, not more compliant.
It’s popular to say America’s in civilizational decline. It’s possible; I don’t know. I’m skeptical of narratives that make us extraordinary. But I know this: if we’re going down, we should go down swinging, not cringing. Donald Trump boldly, gratuitously, arrogantly broke the law. He’s bragged about being able to do so without consequence. He’s not being persecuted, he’s being provided with due process that will give him myriad ways to defend himself and vindicate his rights, and his vast resources make him uniquely suited to do so. If the Department of Justice doesn’t take the shot, then what’s the point of it?
And finally, if further reassurance is needed, Juliette Kayyem, who studies these people, on the possibility of further domestic terrorism:
A couple of things to consider/weigh for next few days that cut in a variety of ways: 1)the words are hot, the coordination is not. This is not January 6th. The more established right wing groups are disorganized, leaders are in jail, they've turned against each other. 1/ https://t.co/K3XCI2fl6V
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) June 12, 2023
2)Trump is not in charge nor can he direct police or military assets; 3)Local, state and federal authorities have considerable notice to organize and now know that this is not a drill; 4)still, this is Florida, not NYC, and the pool of people likely to support Trump is bigger; 2/
5)Within MAGA land, there is a clear understanding that Trump did not bail the 1/6 defendants out and can not do so now; 6)It only takes one person, in Miami or elsewhere, and the guns are real so I think that concern of the one off is greater than some organized move; 3/
7)The protestors in support of Trump are asserting their First Amendment rights because we are a democracy, but if anybody might listen to me I wouldn’t bother with counter-protesting. Let it be. It will be over in a few hours. Troll people on twitter instead. 4/
Why do people say "his base will be emboldened"? It doesn't matter. The analysis is whether the base is getting bigger, whether it is growing. And as I've been saying. . . https://t.co/2z0R7tXHXShttps://t.co/LUP7Hc5IIchttps://t.co/5unZwI1bBVhttps://t.co/HwW6K7QdVp https://t.co/xvsKptOMNJ
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) June 9, 2023