Over the last few days… Donald Trump was stepping up his campaign and appearing at various venues saying things and behaving in ways that should have made journalists’ ears perk up, wondering if he’s lost more than a step. He was …incredibly self-destructive — even for him.
It started with an interview with Megyn Kelly for her Sirius XM show last Thursday, the first since shortly after Trump crudely insulted her back in 2015 during the first presidential primary debate. Trump seemed to expect a friendly, Fox-like, interview and she gave him plenty of softballs and expressed her agreement with much of his nonsense. But she did ask some probing questions about his legal troubles and once again he more or less confessed to his crimes. He must have said the words “Presidential Records Act” a dozen times, reiterating over and over that he had every right to take any document he chose. And he slipped up continuously, providing the prosecution plenty of fodder
“I’m allowed to have these documents. I’m allowed to take these documents…When I have them, they become unclassified. People think you have to go through a ritual. You don’t, at least in my opinion.”
When he was interviewed by Kristen Welker she asked him whether he was taking the advice of his lawyers when he claimed he had won the election he lost to Joe Biden.
Kristen Welker asks former President Trump to clarify if he was listening to his lawyers’ advice or his own instincts after he lost the 2020 election. Trump: “It was my decision.”
DEFENSES THAT TRUMP DESTROYED
What Trump did in those two interviews probably destroyed the typical defenses someone in his situation would have relied on in both the Mar-a-Lago documents case and the January 6th case brought by Jack Smith. In the documents case his defense might have been that he didn’t realize the items packed up in a hurry were top secret documents. But after this “confession” of the truth to Megyn Kelly his defense will have to be that he thought he had every right to do what he did with those documents and that these documents were magically de-classified just by being in his presence. That contradicts the law governing classified documents. Trump is claiming his beliefs, his version of reality supersedes the law of the land. It’s like he was a dictator or king instead of the president in a constitutional democracy.
In the January 6th insurrection case, his best defense might have been that he listened to lawyers he trusted who told him the election was stolen from him. Even though other attorneys told him otherwise, the fact that a number of lawyers told Trump he was right to believe the election was stolen might have served as a reasonable defense. His lawyers could have argued that he could not have the mens rea, the intent, to commit the crimes for which he has been indicted. He was just listening to lawyers who assured him the vote was rigged, there was fraud and he was right to contest the election in every possible way including asking Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger to “find” the missing votes he was told had been stolen.
But with his simple comment to Kristen Welker, Trump blew up that defense. Trump said he did NOT listen to his lawyers. He listened to HIMSELF. That’s not a defense that will fly in a court of law with a jury that believes in the law and in instructions it will get from the judge. What Trump is saying is that he was above the law. In other words what HE thought was right was the law. He listened to himself. HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT whether or not the law agreed with him. Trump again acting like he is already a dictator or king. That’s not how the law works in a constitutional democracy. That’s how things work in an autocracy, a dictatorship, or a monarchy.
So, WHY is Trump confessing to his crimes?
Some think he is doing it because he is losing his mind. And yes, there is some evidence that Trump is more out to lunch lately.
Trump says Joe Biden is “cognitively impaired” and then accuses him of getting us into World War TWO.
Trump (says): As you know, crooked Joe Biden and the radical left thugs who have weaponized law enforcement to arrest their leading political opponent that leading by a lot, including Obama
Huh? What does Obama have to do with anything?
He later appeared at the Concerned Women for America conference and … repeated his claim that you need ID to buy a loaf of bread
Is Trump losing what is left of his mind or are his “confessions” a way he could win if the cases go to trial?
TRUMP IS TRYING TO SELL AMERICA THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE… AGAIN
I think Trump is telling everyone the truth about what he did to normalize his crimes since he knows the trials will prove he did the criminal things he did. The defense Trump is building is not a legal defense per se, it is more of a marketing ploy. He is selling Americans another con job. Are Americans ready to buy the Brooklyn Bridge yet again? We have Trump University, Trump steaks, the Big Lie, and so many more con jobs foisted on Americans by Trump they are hard to count. The con Trump is working on now is one he hopes will get him off or buy him time. He’s gambling on a jury member who believes he had a right to do what he did because he was president and presidents get to do whatever they want.
Sure he did it! He had a right to do it! As president he can do anything! He is actually the rightful president even now. (BTW on Earth Two his followers believe he IS the rightful president and Biden is the fraud.) On Earth Two The Presidential Records Act gives him every right to do what he did with the documents he took to Mar a Lago. (No, it doesn’t, but that’s the law on Earth One, not Earth Two.)
Working a con job is a tactic Trump has successfully used in the past. This time he is priming the public by telling everyone what he did and that he had every right to do what he did. He wants his people who are steeped in his cult and willing to believe in him and the alternate universe he promotes, to be convinced that it was perfectly fine for him to do what he did. If he did it it was not criminal.
With this approach, Trump puts himself in the role of an autocrat who is ALREADY the dictator of America. L’Etat C’est Moi. I am the state. Whatever I do is totally fine. I am already America’s Putin, Viktor Orban, King George.
If he can get just one hold out believer on each of these juries to buy what he’s selling, then he could at least get a hung jury and the continuing right to claim his innocence.
Confessing his crimes to the public now and normalizing what he did may well turn out to be his best hope to evade consequences (other than delay delay delay and hope he somehow gets re-elected president so he could get rid of the cases).
Trump has never played by the rules. That’s why he has run afoul of them, but also how he has eluded consequences. He understands human nature, messaging and marketing. He is very creative and colors outside the lines. He is also overbearing and domineering. He has curated a cult following of millions of angry, aggrieved Americans who believe him over everything else and anyone else. They trust him above anything they read or hear. This approach, normalizing his crimes, fits with his personality, his prior behavior, and the alternate universe he has promoted on right wing platforms and social media. It’s a gamble, but it just might work.
TRUMP’S TRUMP CARD
It looks like Trump has calculated that his last best chance to win re-election and stay out of jail requires throwing out any pretense of a defense, telling the truth about what he believed and did, tainting the jury pool as much as possible, using intimidation to scare potential jurors and witnesses, and hoping for at least one hold out in every empaneled jury. What commentators think is self-destructive or slipping up may be Trump showing us his “trump card”.
These days Trump, his cult and the Republican party all live on Earth Two, the alternate universe where whatever Trump does is right. Remember that ad for Outback Steak House? No rules, just right. That is the world according to Trump.
We will see how Trump’s gamble pays off… or doesn’t. Much will depend on who is picked to be on the jury.
TRIALS THAT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE THE ELECTION
There will be a trial in Georgia in October of at least two of Trump’s codefendants in the RICO case brought by Fani Willis: Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell. They both requested a speedy trial. Trump did not. Because that trial will be televised, it will be a preview of what we will hear when Jack Smith’s case is heard by Judge Chutkan. In this trial, Chesebro and Powell, will be pointing their fingers at Trump over and over again. They will say he told them to do what they did when they broke the law. Trump will not be on trial, himself, but he will be the focus of that trial in Georgia.
Next, Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump for his actions related to the insurrection and attempt to overturn the election will most likely take place in Washington, DC, before Judge Chutkan. This judge is pushing to get the trial accomplished before the 2024 election. It looks like this will be the only trial with a realistic chance of happening before the 2024 election where Trump himself is the defendant.
How will Trump’s defense play out? Trump’s wager is that his defense of himself will play out well on Earth Two. He had every right to do what he did because he was the president and he still is the rightful president and presidents should be treated like kings.
Trump is making the case that what he says and believes is the law. What he says and believes and does is untouchable. At this point he really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not only get away with it but be defended by his millions of cult followers for doing the right thing.
Americans are facing a tipping point for our country. Are we a country of laws that apply to everyone or a country where one man dictates the law and is never wrong.
Stay tuned. Our country’s future as a democracy is on the line. If Trump beats this rap and wins re-election, our democratic experiment will be over and Trump will become the first American dictator.