Finally, 30 months after leaving office in disgrace, Trump must face the music | Lloyd Green

todayAugust 2, 2023 1

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Amid the Hollywood writers’ strike, Jack Smith, the special counsel, delivered a jolt of real-life drama. Late Tuesday afternoon, he dropped a four-count, 45-page conspiracy indictment on Donald Trump for his efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Six other unnamed conspirators also appear in the text. The charges go to the heart of our constitutional system.

“Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power,” the indictment charges. “So for more than two months following election day … the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election that he had actually won. These claims were false, and Defendant knew that they were false.”

If convicted, the 77-year-old former president could face years in jail and possibly die in prison. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

In the interim, he towers over the Republican field with the support of a majority of the party’s voters. College grad or blue-collar, it makes little difference. The Republican party belongs to him. He did not fade after two earlier indictments. Rather, his grip on the Republican party tightens. He has pledged to run even if convicted and from behind bars.

Cloaked in the aura of seeming inevitability, Trump holds a 37-point lead over Ron DeSantis, his closest rival. With a half-year to go before the first nominating contest, Florida’s thuggish and humorless governor has burned through millions of dollars. His campaign reset resembles a cry for help. He is down to 17 points in the polls and falling.

When you’re a presidential candidate who is forced to fire people for posting Nazi-symbols, it doesn’t inspire confidence. Likewise, if you’re busy looking for slavery’s upside or dangling the possibility of appointing RFK Jr as head of the FDA or CDC, national politics is not where you belong.

Past candidates have bounced back from edges of the abyss. Here, the late John McCain’s run in 2008 comes to mind. After squandering an early lead, he demonstrated under-appreciated tenacity. But DeSantis is no McCain. He is not fun. Rather, “mean”, “petty” and “dull” are the words that best do justice to the latest iteration of Florida Man.

All that having been said, obstacles in the form of nearly-endless legal proceedings will likely complicate Trump’s political path and life. Just days before Tuesday’s indictment, the government leveled new and serious allegations against him in the already pending documents case.

According to federal prosecutors, Trump and two aides schemed to delete Mar-a-Lago surveillance video in a bid to stymie Smith’s investigation. To say the least, it’s not a good look.

“It seems like you know you’re committing a crime if you’re having an employee delete security camera footage,” declared Will Hurd, the ex-Texas congressman and long-shot Republican contender. Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and federal prosecutor, branded Trump a “one-man crime wave.”

Reality check: Christie is at low-single digits; Hurd is at a fraction of a percent. As the song goes, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

By contrast, the rest of the Republican field remains studiously quiet. DeSantis refuses to say whether Trump’s indictments disqualify him from running, and does not rule out issuing a pardon.

The latest indictment adds to Trump’s considerable legal woes. Between the race for the Republican presidential nod and his considerable troubles, Trump’s dance card is looking full. His legal bills are already straining the resources of his Save America political action committee. He is spending more than he rakes in. He is still two months away from a full-blown trial in a nine-figure action.

In October, the New York attorney general’s $250m civil suit against the Trump Organization and Trump individually begins. On 15 January 2024, Iowa Republicans will caucus, and the second E Jean Carroll defamation case commences.

Then come the criminal cases against the backdrop of nomination season. Next March, Trump is slated to be tried in Manhattan in connection with alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star. Two months later, in late May, he is scheduled to go on trial in Florida for his alleged mishandling of government documents. Expect Melania Trump to be a no-show at both trials.

Whether Trump is convicted and how his base reacts are the tests of his staying power. At the moment, Tim Scott, South Carolina’s junior senator, is receiving well-deserved attention. He is sober and measured, in stark contrast to Trump and DeSantis. He is also a people person.

Still, Scott’s appeal beyond the Republican donor class appears limited. In his home state, he barely cracks double-digits, running fourth. In Iowa, he is running a distant third. Practically speaking, he represents a real threat to DeSantis but is a logical running mate for the former guy. A Trump conviction might shake things up but that is no certainty.

Trump once led chants of “lock her up”. Now he’s a perpetual defendant. Beyond that, each time he speaks, he provides prosecutors with fresh targets. Discipline is not his strong suit.

Trump is set to be arraigned on Thursday. At this rate, he stands to be the first nominee out on personal recognizance on four separate indictments, in four different jurisdictions. Possible indictment in Georgia looms. The 2024 election will be one for the ages. Regardless of the outcome, the US may never be the same.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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