Outrage is an easy emotion to invent from nothing and then teach. All that is needed is for a person of some apparent authority to insist with conviction that some mundane situation is in fact a horrid injustice and should never happen again. Rinse and repeat.
We saw it over and over in the run up to the January 6 insurrection. Well before the election, Donald Trump taught the cretinous idolaters composing his base that if he lost the election then that could mean only one thing — it was rigged. And he duly lost the election.
By the time he was done with the fools it never occurred to them that he might have lost an ordinary election in an ordinary way. And when they “thought” about it they convinced themselves Trump’s lies were true. They applied the usual cretin criteria that they applied to everything to “prove” Trump was right. Most of the people they knew and hung out with voted for Trump, therefore most of everybody voted for Trump. QED.
That’s exactly the kind of thing Alina Habba was doing (or, at least, attempting to do) Monday afternoon when she stood on the courthouse steps and railed against Judge Arthur Arthur Engoron. “‘I’m not here to hear what he [Donald Trump] has to say,’” Habba indignantly (and rhetorically) said, quoting the judge. “ Then why exactly am I being paid as an attorney and why exactly are taxpayer dollars being used in this courtroom? The answer is very clear. Because Ms [Attorney General Letitia] James wants to stand here like she did this morning and call my client a liar.”
Okay, there’s a bit to unpack here. What Habba is really saying is this. Judge Engoron wouldn’t let Donald Trump go off on tangents and make incoherent speeches when asked a simple question. The judge insisted that Trump answer the questions in a straightforward and simple way, preferably yes or no.
This kind of thing happens all the time in courtrooms, and Habba knows it. The courtroom is the judge’s domain, and it’s his or her preserve to keep their trials moving along and prevent theatrics and grandstanding and speech-making by lawyers and witnesses alike. Those kinds of things slow trials and obfuscate the underlying point to questions.
Habba knows that. Donald Trump might even know that too, but he sure as hell doesn’t like it. So he instructed his lawyer (or she figured it out for herself) that she needs to make it clear that what Engoron did was a horrible offence and everybody should be muderously outraged by it.
It’s at this point she performed a bit of legerdemain, a logical non sequitur so absurd and so breathtaking that you might have missed it. Why, she wants to know, is the judge preventing Trump from making a speech when being questioned? Answer: So Letitia James could stand on those very courthouse steps and call Donald Trump a liar. What?
In other words, and I hope you’re sitting down for this, Habba is saying that Engoron got together with Letitia James and concocted a sinister plot that if he (Engoron) kept Trump from rambling she (Letitia James) could later insist that it somehow “proves” that Donald Trump is a liar. And as idiotic as that might sound to you and me, brothers and sisters, that’s exactly the kind of thing that works in the real world of MAGA lunacy.
It will be one more thing for Trump’s MAGA base to get mad about, and one more thing to justify even more violence if Trump should be stripped of all of his money and his licence to ever practise law in the state of New York again, or if Trump should be criminally convicted in his other trials and put in jail, or if Trump should lose the 2024 election. And so on. It’s just another narrative of counterfeit invented outrage, and it will be parroted across the nation by MAGA boneheads like the mallet-heads they are.
When you remember that Trump lawyers and apologists are almost always performing for an audience of one with an eye to stir up the MAGA base, most things become clearer. Even the idiotic non sequiturs sound plausible when stated in an authoritative manner. Habba was just doing what Trump told her to do. And just about everybody missed it.
As ridiculous as it all may seem to you and me, it is also deadly dangerous. People are threatened, witnesses are intimidated and lives are lost when this kind of thing is permitted to go on. Everyone who was beaten or killed on January 6 were beaten or killed as a direct result of Donald Trump’s words, or the words of those who parroted his inanities.
This is why Donald Trump needs to go to jail immediately. He needs to stay there. His lawyers need to be gagged. They also need to go to jail if they continue to stir up Trump’s narrative of counterfeit outrage.
These people are playing with a deadly fire, and whenever that happens, people get hurt and lives are lost. It is incumbent on the judicial system to protect the American people against the deadly lies of Donald Trump, and they need to jail Trump today. 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.