Donald Trump can’t win a standoff at Mar-a-Lago
Even as Donald Trump’s attorneys are letting it be known that he intends to surrender himself peacefully when he’s criminally indicted in Manhattan this week, there is also some thin reporting suggesting that Trump could stage a standoff at Mar-a-Lago instead. It would be easier for all of us if he doesn’t pull this kind of stuff. But if he does choose to, then it will not go well for him. At all.
It’s important to keep in mind that while Trump controlled all federal law enforcement on January 6th, he’s no longer in charge of anything. He doesn’t have a private army. He has a handful of bodyguards and nothing more. And the Secret Service is not going to play bodyguard to protect him from indictment and arrest, because doing so would be felony obstruction of justice.
If Trump were to refuse to surrender he’d be classified as a fugitive in the eyes of the law. Every relevant law enforcement agency would be authorized to arrive at his home and take him by force, in as large of numbers as necessary. Even if a few Secret Service agents did go rogue, they’d just end up arrested as well.
So what would Trump really have as a defense? The same kinds of thugs who were responsible for January 6th. Except many of them, including the leaders of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, are now in prison. And since Trump can’t run interference for his goons by keeping law enforcement away, his goons wouldn’t stand a chance.
If Trump were to barricade himself inside Mar-a-Lago and force a standoff, it would end fairly quickly and very poorly for him. There would be images of him being dragged out of the building. It would make him look incredibly weak and embarrassing, which would sink whatever feeble 2024 prospects he thinks he has. And when he did end up in front of a judge for his arraignment, his odds of being able to get out on bail while awaiting trial would be sharply reduced.
There are no magic wands – none – zero – that Donald Trump can use for coming out on top in a standoff at Mar-a-Lago. It would be a horrific loss for him no matter how it played out. We’d rather see it not happen, for the sake of the safety of law enforcement. And we suspect that after all his bluster, he’ll end up just meekly surrendering once he’s indicted. But if Trump does want to go the standoff route, he’ll be harming himself in such a way that he’d be doing us all a favor. If he really wants to get dragged out in handcuffs and face pretrial incarceration, so be it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report