Last night Donald Trump held a rally that was plagued by intermittent rain storms, fairly poor attendance, the refusal of Ron DeSantis to attend, and a Meidas Touch airplane flying overhead with a banner that said “Loser-palooza.” That was all bad enough. Then Trump arguably made it worse for himself by seeming to confess that the Trump Organization did in fact engage in an untaxed income and benefits scheme. Oops.
Here’s the thing. When Trump was in office for four years, he knew he could block any federal prosecution against him or his family, so he would just publicly confess to his crimes so he could then try to play them down. For him it was a PR game. That’s presumably why he confessed last night. But he apparently forgot he’s no longer in office and is now vulnerable to prosecution and incarceration. He also appears to have lost track of the fact that these are state charges, which he wouldn’t be able to block even if he were still in office.
We’ll see if New York prosecutors view Trump’s confession last night as having been direct enough to use as actual evidence for the grand jury. But either way, Trump is openly flaunting his crimes at this point, which surely deepens the resolve of those prosecutors to see this through and indict him.
Some are saying Trump confessed so he could paint himself as not understanding the law, so he can argue at trial that he didn’t know that what his company was doing was illegal. But it feels like this is giving Trump too much credit. Trump has never been that sophisticated when it comes to his scheming – and his lawyers appear to be mere sycophants who are trying to convince him he’ll go free, rather than trying to help him go free.
It’s notable that Donald Trump Jr also confessed this weekend in a weird Facebook video, and he certainly didn’t do it in an “I don’t understand the law” kind of way. He was just doing the same thing he used to do when his dad was in control of the DOJ and they knew they wouldn’t be prosecuted anyway: confess it and spin it.
The only reason Trump wasn’t locked up over the past four years is he happened to be in control of the DOJ. It’s not like he said or did anything savvy while he was in office with regard to his crimes. In fact he made every mistake possible. He just held the keys. Now he doesn’t.
We keep painting Trump as a savvy evil genius. It’s never been true. He only fell into office sideways to begin with due to the last minute Comey letter. He then spent four years committing every crime he could think of in order to steal a second term, yet he still couldn’t pull it off. Trump is a brute force kind of guy, with no real strategy beyond trying to psychologically wear you down into believing he’s going to win no matter what, so you won’t bother to fight against him. Defeating him requires first acknowledging that he’s never been a mastermind to begin with.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report