When Trump adviser Peter Navarro appeared on MSNBC on Thursday, he insisted that executive privilege would magically protect him from indictment, and then began making unhinged threats against various public officials, you could almost hear the doomsday pundits cracking their knuckles in the distance as they prepared to type a familiar refrain: Trump has gotten away with it all. The DOJ is doing nothing. Navarro is talking like this because he knows no one will ever be indicted.
One day after the doomsday pundits made these prognostications, Navarro was indicted. Of course he was. That’s why I laughed my way through Navarro’s television performance. This was a guy who had no idea how to respond to his DOJ grand jury subpoena, clearly knew he was going down, and was putting on that frantic display of bravado and bluster in the hope of convincing himself he was somehow magically going to get away with it all.
We’ve seen it before, time and again. Rarely does it line up as poetically as it did with Navarro, where he was indicted less than 24 hours after his chest pounding public appearance. But Navarro’s frantic meltdown was an obvious sign that he knew he was toast. People who expect to beat the rap don’t put on a crazed performance like that while they’re under active criminal investigation, because they don’t need to. They go beat the charges, and then they gloat.
This is why, whenever a villain like Navarro begins frantically making threats, we should never cower in fear or lament about how he’s gotten away with it all. Navarro was trying to con us into believing that he’d gotten away with it all. When we fall for that kind of thing, we’re not being vigilant, we’re being gullible.
The correct move yesterday was to call out Navarro’s meltdown for what it was: a display of fear on his part. He was terrified of his impending indictment, which is why he was trying to con us into feeling terrified of him. Sure enough, one day later, Navarro is under indictment and in federal custody. He can run his mouth all he wants. He’s still going to prison. So are a whole lot of other people in Trump world. They know it, too. And they keep giving away that they know it, every time they put on a performance like this.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report