For the first time in weeks, Thursday was a “good news” day for the former president, who has spent years unfoundedly portraying himself as the victim of a Democratic conspiracy to keep him out of the White House.
He was pleased with his attorney’s case before the US Supreme Court. He won another primary election. A federal judge overseeing the case of his classified documents appears to be ignoring prosecutors’ fears about his harassment campaign. And President Joe Biden’s US Department of Justice gave the former president enough validation to keep the “sleepy Joe” narrative alive through Election Day.
Even as his rivals receive the same treatment, Mr. Trump tells his supporters that he is the victim of a Justice Department “weapon” and a “two-tier justice system,” while ignoring thousands of pages of evidence against him . He will win the elections he won and call any loss against him. His own attorney stood before the nation’s highest court to call a violent attack that put millions of Americans at risk “criminal,” and none of the judges were blind.
Seen another way, a news pipe on a “good” day for the likely Republican nominee for president – leaning into his autocratic campaign based on “refusal” – is a big red light for a democracy in decline, its institutions too slow or ill-equipped to respond.
Supreme Court justices, including the three he appointed, appeared poised to reject Colorado’s decision that, under the 14th Amendment’s “sedition” clause, Mr. Trump is disqualified from public office.
The justices were not interested in having a working definition of “sedition” let alone deciding whether “engaging” someone should disqualify him from office. That whole issue, which is central to the case before the court and is another simple clause in the Constitution to keep people out of the government who try to overthrow it, was largely an afterthought, and the chief justice of the even court. open to debate as to what it means.
The Colorado courts agreed that Mr. Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021 – when a crowd of his supporters, up against his election lies, stormed the halls of Congress and stopped the certification of the 2020 results – “were transparent, voluntary and direct participation in the referendum. rebellion”.
Mr Trump’s lawyer told the Supreme Court it was just a “riot”, even a “criminal” riot. But if it was a “rebellion”, only the Congress can decide to remove him from office, and only after he is elected, he said. A vote would then be in the hands of the same body controlled by a party that is currently promoting a resolution claiming that the former president was not “engaging in rebellion”.
The justices were more concerned with the immaterial complications of the law, which could hypothetically be messy after a decision to disqualify a candidate “caught” in rebellion, and Justice John Roberts – no no irony – thinking out loud that an election “could come down to a handful of states that will decide the presidential election”.
What if Republicans decide that a Democratic candidate would engage in something they would consider a rebellion, he asked, dismissing the Colorado attorney’s argument that “frivolous” attempts to invoke the 14th Amendment should not be treated as the same as the one before them. – that’s a real event that happened a few years ago just down the street.
A few hours after the Supreme Court hearing, the Justice Department’s special counsel who investigated the President’s mishandling of classified documents released his report.
The report questioned Mr Biden’s mental health in particular, lashing out at right-wing attacks that Mr Trump has weaponised. The results of the investigation – which did not lead to any criminal charges – gave the former president ample ammunition for his campaign, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars with the story of political persecution that he says his supporters are also facing.
Special counsel Robert Hur correctly made the distinction in his report that the president’s behavior was far different than that of the former president in the Mar-a-Lago case largely absent from the media frenzy, which Republicans eager to capitalize on bad faith attacks. Prosecutors are supposed to stay out of partisan politics, but Mr. Hur’s report is now being sharpened into a deadly weapon by the same people throwing democracy under the bus for the second coming of Mr. Trump.
That same night, special counsel Jack Smith — who is leading both federal investigations into the former president — blasted a federal judge who ignored repeated warnings that Mr. Trump is using his indictments to bully and threaten witnesses and anyone else in his way.
He criticized U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon for ordering prosecutors to submit documents in the Mar-a-Lago case without redacting witness names and other information that could “immediately present significant risks of threats, intimidation and harassment”.
Mr Smith repeatedly warned judges about what his team previously called “part of a pattern, stretching back years, of people being publicly targeted” “subject to harassment, threats and intimidation”.
Mr. Trump “seeks to use this well-known dynamic to his advantage” and “has continued unabated as this case and other unrelated cases involving the defendant have progressed,” Law Department attorneys wrote. and Justice last year.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night Mr Trump also swept the Nevada caucuses – a result that was almost guaranteed after the state’s Republicans made him a separate contest. He celebrated anyway.
This is likely to be the pace for the rest of 2024: a leaky blast of “area flooding” chaos to prove Mr. Trump “right” at everyone else’s expense.