While we’re all looking forward to the day when Donald Trump is no longer holding political rallies, there’s nonetheless a silver lining to them. For one thing, these rallies never seem to benefit the Republican candidates they’re nominally supposed to be helping. And now, Trump’s rallies are providing insight into how Trump is dealing with the very serious federal criminal charges he’s on the verge of getting hit with.
Certainly, prosecutors at the DOJ are watching footage of Trump’s rally from this weekend. Given how incoherent Trump’s speech was, they might have to watch it a few times to figure out what he was even talking about. But it’s notable, for instance, that Trump now claims the FBI ransacked his son Barron’s room. Whether this claim is true or not, it suggests that Trump – who seems to care nothing for his youngest son – is very concerned with his son’s room. Did Trump hide documents there? Did the Feds find them? Should the Feds circle back and check under the floorboards of that bedroom?
But it’s more than just that. Trump also claimed during his rally speech that Mark Zuckerberg came to visit him last week at the White House, in order to inform Trump that he’s now #1 on Facebook. This suggests that Trump’s mind is sinking further than ever into desperate delusion about how it’s all somehow magically going to work out okay for him. In his mind he’s now back in the White House, he’s back on Facebook, and everything is just fine and dandy. He’s perhaps in his safe space, so to speak, as a way of trying to convince himself that he’s not actually on the verge of arrest under the Espionage Act, which he is.
Of course Trump’s rally speech in Pennsylvania this weekend was supposed to be aimed at boosting midterm voter turnout for Republican candidates like Mehmet Oz. But you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, because Trump has never had much luck convincing his base to vote in general elections that don’t have his name on the ballot, and because Trump rarely even tries to use these rallies to promote such candidates.
The AP used Trump’s Pennsylvania rally as an opportunity to run a story about a member of Trump’s base who’s still on board with Trump but has no interest in voting for Oz, even after Trump’s rally. Such articles are always biased in the direction of the one anecdotal example that the article’s author has arbitrarily chosen to focus on. But this one example does track with what we already know about the sheer ineffectiveness of Trump’s political rallies – particularly now that he’s no longer in office and only holds them occasionally.
In the meantime, the DOJ is now doing what it always does whenever the target of an active federal criminal investigation publicly shoots off his mouth about the investigation: it’s poring over Donald Trump’s rally speech in search of strategic advantages. In that sense, if Trump wants to keep running his mouth, he’s more than welcome to do so. It’s not helping him, it’s not helping the Republican Party, and it’s probably just helping make it that much easier for the DOJ to take him down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report