As with Donald Trump’s numerous crimes, it’s hard to keep track of his many spurious defenses. But should he be charged with inciting a violent insurrection by special prosecutor Jack Smith’s office, one possible defense used to be what he said prior to the attack on the Capitol.
Trump’s lawyers occasionally used to point to a passage in his January 6 speech on the Ellipse in which Trump said, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” They argue that his words were not a call for actual violence and lawlessness.
Notice I say that “used to be” his defense. Whatever effectiveness it may have once carried is now gone, or at least dramatically diminished. Because Donald Trump once again revealed his true monstrous self when he warned of possible “death and destruction” if he is indicted for making alleged hush payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
In a post on his failing “Truth Social” network, Trump escalated his rhetoric even beyond its usual hysterical level of out-of-control bombast and threat. Trump said, “What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?”
Trump then added, “Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely [sic] hates the USA!” Then he finished himself off with an all-caps coda: “OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!” He also posted a link to an article which was illustrated with a composite image of himself about to swing a baseball bat at an inserted image of Mr Bragg.
Let’s break that down for a moment. What Trump is really saying is that Alvin Bragg shouldn’t be charging him with anything. Why? First because he got more votes than any sitting president in history. While technically true it leaves out the pertinent fact that his opponent, Joe Biden , who beat Trump by 7.5 million votes, got more votes than any presidential candidate in history, sitting or not sitting. But let’s move on.
Second, Trump says Bragg shouldn’t make a charging decision against him because he’s the leading Republican candidate. And his point (assuming that it’s even true) is? That because he’s so popular he should be above the law? Yes, that’s the thread that runs through the entire threnody.
Third, Trump says he shouldn’t be charged because it is known “that NO crime has been committed.” This is part of his Goebbels strategy, one that he’s used many times in the past, which is to repeat a lie until it’s thoroughly inscribed on the minds of his idiotic idolaters. Lies such as “no obstruction, no collusion,” or “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
But the truth of the matter is that a crime has been committed, and Trump needs to be brought to trial for it and made accountable. That it’s one of the smaller crimes of which Trump is guilty doesn’t matter. We’ve got to start somewhere.
Finally comes the real point. Trump is going to make sure that “death & destruction” rains down on the DOJ and anyone else who supports the narrative that Donald Trump is not above the law. He saved that part for last because it’s his favourite part. Trump is going to incite any remaining violent losers out there to violence. That’s what Trump wants, more violence.
Trump, the leader of the “Party of Personal Responsibility,” the one that claimed the whole movement was irrelevant and dangerous because a minority of Black Lives Matter protesters resorted to violence, is calling for violence. Not in the name of stopping a systemic evil, but in the name of protecting himself.
It’s repeated so often that it has become a cliche, that everything Trump touches dies. But nowhere is that more apparent than in his own defense. I can understand (and almost sympathize) with what must be his lawyers’ greatest lament: how much easier it would be to defend Donald if only he would keep his stupid mouth shut.
If Trump is indicted, tried and found guilty of one crime or many crimes, his greatest witness against himself will be himself. Nothing condemns Trump quite like his own words. Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.