Don’t fall for this…

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I’ve often urged you not to get too over-focused on things like disbarment and gag orders, because while they’re important in their own way, they’re a sideshow in comparison to the real goal. Trump lawyers like Eastman and Clark don’t much care about getting disbarred, because they’re trying to fend off prison. And when it comes to Donald Trump himself, a gag order is nothing compared to the multiple prison sentences he’s facing.

That said, because Trump is now just two weeks from the start of his first criminal trial, we are now getting to that point where he’s being hit with pretrial gag orders. These gag orders are always an opportunity for hyperbolic (and often wholly inaccurate) defeatist performance art about how Trump is “getting away with it all.” But this kind of commentary itself is as much of a distraction as anything that Trump says or does in relation to his gag orders.

For starters, the fact that the courts have to gag Trump is not an indication that he’s dangerously powerful. All it means is that he’s a loudmouth idiot who doesn’t know when to shut up for his own good. And for all the talk we hear about how Trump supposedly just tramples all over his gag orders, the factual reality is that he cowers in the face of gag orders. He just tries to distract from how badly he’s cowering, by posting other kinds of offensive things, such as his Biden pickup truck stunt yesterday.

But each time Trump says or does anything offensive at all, the talking heads automatically try to convince us that it’s a violation of his gag order, when it almost never is. A gag order is a precise tool used to protect specific things. For instance Trump’s latest gag order prevents him from attacking certain officers of the court and such in relation to this trial. President Biden is obviously not involved in this trial, so Trump’s post about Biden is obviously not a violation of the gag order.

Yet we’ll still hear endless commentary about how Trump is violating his gag order and getting away with it, as the talking heads try harder than ever to convince us that Trump is more powerful than ever. And just wait until we get to the part where Trump appeals the gag order, and the appeals court sets it aside for a few days while deciding whether to let it remain intact. That’s the point where the talking heads will convince us that we’re in mortal peril, because he might post a “mean tweet” on his own social network that’s going to finish us all off once and for all.

This is why I mostly just ignore the hype about things like gag orders. Everyone loves to massively overstate the importance and breadth of a Trump gag order, only to then incorrectly assert that the gag order has been violated, followed by defeatist hand wringing when the imaginary violation of the gag order doesn’t result in any punishment.

Even if there were no gag order to begin with, Trump wouldn’t be able to improve his position in this trial by running his mouth. He can only make things more difficult for himself. If Trump screws up and says something incriminating in a social media rant, the prosecutors can and will turn around and use it as evidence against him during the trial. The best thing Trump can do for himself, trial-wise, would be to shut up. In that sense the gag order is almost there to help him.

So let’s not sit around and fret about sideshow nonsense like a gag order. And let’s not allow talking heads, whose career prospects hinge on being able to scare us into staring at our screens in fear all day, con us into believing that Trump is somehow more magically powerful than ever. These are the same people who tried to convince us that Trump would be able to keep his criminal trials from ever happening – and now his first criminal trial is starting in two weeks. Trump is in the weakest and most powerless position he’s ever been in. He’ll only get weaker and more powerless as the days and weeks go on.

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