I’m sure Donald Trump was hopping mad to see Kevin McCarthy and Matt Gaetz steal the spotlight on Tuesday with their historic antics in the House. After all, Dear Leader is on trial and he’s appearing in the courtroom even though he’s not required to so that he can preen before the cameras in the hallways and insult the judge, the prosecutor and everyone else. This is supposed to be his party and it was completely overshadowed by House Republicans who are supposed to understand that.
As of midnight last night the only thing he had to say on the matter was, “Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves, why aren’t they fighting the Radical Left Democrats who are destroying our Country?” If the man he calls “My Kevin” expected him to intervene on his behalf, he was sorely disappointed. In fact, Trump didn’t even bother to write a bland Truth Social post wishing McCarthy well in his future endeavors.
Trump was already in a bad mood on Tuesday after Forbes Magazine dropped him from the list of the 400 Richest people in America which, according to Forbes is largely because his investment in the Truth Social platform has turned out to be a dud. If this trial proceeds as it appears it’s going to, he’s going to fall even further. He stands to lose his New York properties and $250 million or more in punitive damages. Of course, Trump doesn’t have the emotional bandwidth to care about what’s happening on Capitol Hill right now. This is important.
Trump stood triumphantly on the courthouse steps at the end of day one and crowed that he had succeeded in getting the judge to overrule himself on 80% of the case due to the statute of limitations running out. The judge corrected him on Tuesday saying that his earlier ruling had not changed and that the statute of limitation started running every time Trump submitted a statement of facts that was fraudulent. And they have been submitted every year since 2011.
It’s clear that Trump knows he’s lost this case.
Mostly he has been racing to the cameras to insult the “rogue” judge and insist he be disqualified. He has openly instructed his followers to “go after” Leticia James, the attorney general who brought the case. This sounds like a threat to me, but what do I know?
And over and over again he has said that his financial statements are fantastic — but also that he made it clear to the banks and insurance companies that they shouldn’t believe a word they said:
During the trial on Tuesday, Trump’s former accountant testified and Trump’s lawyers attempted to blame him for the fraudulent financial statements. But the accountant testified that he could only go by the data the company gave him and that he’d compiled the financial statements based solely on information he received from Trump and his company. Apparently, Trump forgot to issue him the same disclaimer he gave to the banks: Don’t believe I word I say.
But the real fireworks happened after Trump sat before the judge and re-posted a Truth Social post identifying the judge’s clerk, claiming she is Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend and linking to her Instagram account. Here’s what he said about that:
Throughout the break, Trump and his lawyers were called in for a private conference with the judge. When they reconvened, the judge was clearly angry and issued a gag order forbidding defendants from discussing members of his staff. According to legal observers, it’s not unusual for defendants to insult the prosecutors and the judge (although it’s particularly stupid in a bench trial like this). Going after the public servants who work in the courts is crossing the line.
Needless to say, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss can testify to the fact that Trump is more than happy to smear such employees whenever he chooses. He did delete the post but not before it had been captured by millions of his followers and passed all over the internet. It was a lie based on an innocent picture of the clerk taking a selfie with the senator as thousands of other New Yorkers have done. No one should be surprised when it turns out that she is being threatened by MAGA yahoos.
It’s clear that Trump knows he’s lost this case. So he’s decided that stalking around and glowering like his mug shot will make his followers see him as defiant and courageous in facing down his accusers. I’m sure he still has hopes that he can overturn the judge’s ruling on appeal but in the meantime using the occasion to get free media and continue the work of delegitimizing the legal system and targeting his enemies as his primary campaign strategy.
Frankly, he’s being pretty successful.
Donald Trump’s non-stop threats and intimidation of the courts, the prosecutors, the witnesses the jurors are largely going unanswered. Yes, the judge in New York issued a gag order to protect his staff but it didn’t come with any teeth. If the judge sanctions him with fines for any of these antics, he’ll just use it to fundraise and won’t spend a penny of his own money to pay them. Is there really a chance that any judge will order Trump to jail for contempt for something he says as they would any other defendant in these circumstances? I highly doubt it.
Short of Trump trying to flee the country or being caught on tape personally threatening someone with violence, I think this is going to be his strategy for dealing with his legal problems. He wants desperately to become president so that he can make this nightmare go away. I’m not sure how can escape these civil lawsuits, but if he becomes president again there will be ample opportunities to regain his fortune.
As president, he could order the federal criminal case to be withdrawn and while the state cases theoretically can continue, you have to wonder how sentences would be carried out. Would the Atlanta police be dispatched to arrest the president of the United States? Would the Secret Service let them do it? As with everything else with Trump, we are in uncharted territory.
So, I think we can expect Trump to continue with this rebellious, insolent behavior as he deals with the legal system, daring anyone to try to stop him. He believes that his best chance of proving to the world that he isn’t a loser and protecting himself from accountability for his crimes is to win the election by destroying the country’s belief in the legal system. Every time that he defies the rule of law and gets away with it he degrades people’s respect for the legal system on all sides of the political spectrum.
The good news is that we have already seen that judges and juries are not affected by this, at least not yet. If he is ultimately held accountable I’m sure his followers will believe he’s been railroaded and we don’t know exactly what they’ll do. But at least the rest of the country might regain some faith in the rule of law. Right now, it’s hanging by a thread.
about this trial