It began, as these things often do, with Donald Trump, who declared in an all-caps rant on his social media platform Truth Social Saturday morning that “illegal leaks” indicated he’d be arrested on Tuesday in a case involving hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has yet to make any official announcement on plans for an indictment. But Trump called on his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” And this is the same guy that says he didn’t instigate the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Reports of law enforcement officials in New York discussing security preparations in anticipation of an indictment in the coming weeks added fuel to the fire.
Trump’s supporters responded as you might expect, with talk of civil war and threats to “burn it to the ground.” One follower suggested building a “Patriot moat” around Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, which prompted another to note that helicopters could bypass the moat. That led to chatter about what types of weapons could bring down choppers. And so on.
“Make American Great Again” loyalists used similar language on multiple far-right forums ahead of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, with the ultimate goal of disrupting Congress and overturning the 2020 presidential election.
Trump attorney Joe Tacopina has said Trump would cooperate with law enforcement. “There won’t be a standoff at Mar-a-Lago with Secret Service and the Manhattan DA’s office,” he assured reporters.
Funny how the party of law and order wants to face off violently against the police, who are tasked with upholding law and order. Remember kids: Republicans only support law enforcement when they go after the right people, meaning, not people on the right. You don’t have to be in the right, just on the right.
But go ahead and block law enforcement officers from doing their jobs and see how far that gets you. It won’t be like Jan 6. Comedian Neal Brennan pictures a hundred protesters against one guy in a room operating a drone equipped with “eight Hellfire missiles and a high-powered camera.” Is that even fair? Who cares? Put your money on the drone strike.
Meanwhile, we have Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeting in classic word salad verbiage (enough to fill 100 bingo cards) that leaks about Trump being arrested are illegal (believing they were leaked by the Manhattan district attorney’s office).
“Perhaps the man who leaked it should be arrested,” a tweet in her thread suggested. “How’s Tuesday sound?”
Stefanik, you may recall, was once a traditional Republican who has since crawled so far up Donald Trump’s rear end that if Trump caught a cold, he’d be sneezing Stefanik for a month.
In her tweet, Stefanik accused “radical leftists” of targeting Trump because they know they can’t beat him “at the ballot box.” Apparently, she missed the last three election cycles.
That’s OK. Stefanik’s tweet has all the right trigger words: radical leftists, dictators, socialists, unconstitutional, Russia collusion hoax (good one!). See how that works? You sprinkle a few chunks of red meat crack into a word salad, and you trick the base into thinking they’re actually reading when their eyes are only vacantly scanning for something to make them angry.
The only thing she left out was Hunter Biden’s laptop. And we all know it was Hunter who leaked the arrest rumor. Probably paid off Stormy Daniels, too.
Of course, if it really was Hunter Biden who paid off Stormy Daniels, maybe to protect his dad’s presidential bid, Stefanik would be tweeting something entirely different, wouldn’t she.
Funny how, in 2016, when Trump campaigned on locking up Hillary Clinton based on a bunch of made-up crap, his followers applauded and boasted about how tough he is. Now, with Trump on the verge of being locked up for actual, real, provable crimes — oh, my God, this is what a third-world country would do!
It’s hard for anyone capable of rational thought to wrap their head around all this. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump squeals.
I would ask Trump believers: Aren’t you tired of this broken record already? Fighting like hell for what exactly? What is Trump asking you to fight for? Specifically? The country? The country isn’t facing jail time, he is. Trump is asking you to obstruct justice and law enforcement for him. Doesn’t that concern you even a little bit?
Think about what’s happened in this case so far. We won’t know what charges Trump will face until an indictment is issued, but it appears he might have paid off an adult film star with whom he committed adultery using laundered money to buy her silence during a presidential campaign. Both Trump’s former attorney and chief financial officer have already pleaded guilty and gone to jail. If the evidence shows that Trump was also guilty, shouldn’t he be held to account? Yet he is asking you all to fight and circumvent the justice system for him, to create such chaos and unrest it will lead to a horrible civil war. He is using you to keep him from facing justice.
It worked out so well for those Jan. 6 rioters. So now, more people are willing to go to jail for this guy? So far, every Jan. 6 rioter sentenced to jail has expressed regret for what they did. Is that what this next bumper crop of agitators wants?
One Twitter user posted a mock poll asking followers what Trump is most likely to miss in prison, should he end up there. The choices:
- Spray tan machine
- Ketchup by the gallon
- Golden toilet w lid
- Grabbing women by the p...
At last check, the spray tan was well ahead among poll participants.
The bitter pill here is that Trump won’t spend a single day in jail.
Even if he is locked up, he can still run for office. Eugene Debs did so in 1920. He ran on a third-party ticket after being imprisoned for espionage and sedition. Got himself more than 900,000 votes, too.
Congress could bar him from running under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone from running for public office if they “engage in insurrection” or give “aid or comfort” to “enemies” of the United States. That includes those who carry out insurrections. The Jan. 6 committee cited the 14th Amendment as the basis for indicting Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection, which many believe Trump did and continues to do.
Just forget it. Trump ain’t goin’ to prison, at least not based on the Stormy Daniels case. And even if he did, it won’t be in a 9-by-12 jail cell but a minimum-security country club, strolling about in polo shirts and khakis, playing golf, and watching Fox News on his big-screen TV.
Prosecutors are in a tough spot. They don’t want Trump to get away with anything he’s done, but they want to avoid appearing politically motivated. The case revolving around the Stormy Daniels payout is the least volatile. The other cases are politically explosive:
- his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection
- the hundreds of documents he took to his Mar-a-Lago residence, a violation of the Espionage Act
- the special grand jury in Georgia investigating whether Trump and his allies illegally interfered with the 2020 election
The question is whether people in power should get away with crimes just because they are powerful, especially if they are politically powerful, popular and active (and Trump is actively running for president again). Do prosecutors have the courage to pursue a case where charges and possible imprisonment would be unprecedented and a shock to the political world? That could lead to violence given the extremism in some parts of the electorate easily goaded to violence, including violence against the prosecutors, judges and members of a given jury. They’d likely have to go into hiding from Trump supporters afterward.
Another way of saying all this: too big to fail, or in this case, too big to jail. For all anyone knows, this might be just what Trump is counting on to stay out of jail or avoid charges altogether.
Most Americans can agree on two things here: 1. no one is above the law, but 2. Trump ain’t goin’ to jail.
As George Orwell wrote in his allegorical novel “Animal Farm,” “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”
Richard Nixon dodged a bullet when he resigned from office and got a “get out of jail free” card when Gerald Ford pardoned him. “Our long national nightmare is over,” Ford declared. No, it wasn’t. Nixon got away with it. Disgraced? Maybe so, but free as a bird. And Trump? He’s been a disgrace his whole life, yet so self-delusional he would never yield to any feeling of shame, let alone guilt, at least never in public.
But locking up bad political actors might finally send a long-overdue message that restores at least some faith in our political system, that yes, no one is above the law.
So, most of us would agree: If he’s found guilty, he should go to jail. And most of us agree: It ain’t gonna happen.
No, the most he’ll get is an easily affordable fine, which he will probably pay with someone else’s money.
To quote Shakespeare: “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”