All GOP Horserace Analysis Is Useless without Consideration of Possible Indictments

The NYT did a 3-byline 1,700-word story describing how the number of minor Republican candidates joining the race serves Trump’s purpose.

Its analysis of the numbers and Ron DeSantis’ early failures isn’t bad. But because it is silent about how the expanding field might play in the likelihood of Trump indictments, it is entirely worthless.

For example, the content and timing of indictments may have an utterly central impact on the two dynamics described in the piece: Trump’s diehard base and the unwillingness of others in the party to criticize Trump directly.

The rapidly ballooning field, combined with Mr. Trump’s seemingly unbreakable core of support, represents a grave threat to Mr. DeSantis, imperiling his ability to consolidate the non-Trump vote, and could mirror the dynamics that powered Mr. Trump’s takeover of the party in 2016.

It’s a matter of math: Each new entrant threatens to steal a small piece of Mr. DeSantis’s potential coalition — whether it be Mr. Pence with Iowa evangelicals or Mr. Scott with college-educated suburbanites. And these new candidates are unlikely to eat into Mr. Trump’s votes. The former president’s base — more than 30 percent of Republicans — remains strongly devoted to him.


The reluctance to go after Mr. Trump, for many Republicans, feels eerily like a repeat of 2016. Then, Mr. Trump’s rivals left him mostly alone for months, assuming that he would implode or that they were destined to beat him the moment they could narrow the field to a one-on-one matchup, a situation that never transpired.

Consider how each of three legal risks (and these are only the most obvious) might affect these issues. This post builds on this series I did last month:

August Georgia indictments

The NYT itself has, as have many other close observers, noted the many signs that Fani Willis has given that she will indict Trump and others in August — probably mid-August.

The Georgia prosecutor leading an investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his allies has taken the unusual step of announcing remote work days for most of her staff during the first three weeks of August, asking judges in a downtown Atlanta courthouse not to schedule trials for part of that time as she prepares to bring charges in the inquiry.

The moves suggest that Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, is expecting a grand jury to unseal indictments during that time period. Ms. Willis outlined the remote work plan and made the request to judges in a letter sent on Thursday to 21 Fulton County officials, including the chief county judge, Ural Glanville, and the sheriff, Pat Labat.

“Thank you for your consideration and assistance in keeping the Fulton County Judicial Complex safe during this time,” wrote Ms. Willis, who has already asked the F.B.I. to help with security in and around the courthouse.

Ms. Willis had said in a previous letter that any charges related to the Trump investigation would come in the grand jury term that runs from July 11 to Sept. 1. Her letter on Thursday appears to offer more specificity on timing.

That means these indictments will come around the same time as the GOP primary debate scheduled for Milwaukee, hosted by Fox.

Trump has already signaled he may not attend this debate and the party has talked about floating minimum requirements to avoid another cattle call like we saw in 2016. If Willis indicts before this debate, the debate will focus closely on those indictments, meaning the middling candidates will be on a stage without Trump talking about alleged crimes he committed to try to win the 2020 election — alleged crimes he committed instead of doing what he could to win the two Georgia Senate seats that tipped control to Democrats.

While I agree with NYT that a cattle call primary and DeSantis’ weaknesses help Trump, had DeSantis had a stronger start, Trump might have been able to finish off any perceived opposition before substantive indictments drop. Now a bunch of other people will be prepped to capitalize on opportunities created by any Trump charges.

A far more important dynamic than the timing of this, though, is the likelihood Willis will indict others. If those others are just top Trump aides and a handful of fake electors (with other fake electors cooperating against them), it could set up a Trump versus the party dynamic, especially given Brian Kemp’s singular success at finding a way to ignore Trump’s demands while not antagonizing him. But if more Republicans are indicted — and commentary on the fake electors plot always seems to forget that the plot involved some of the most prominent Republicans in all the swing states necessary to win the presidential — then it may tend to solidify the Republican party with Trump, in spite of the legal damage his efforts to steal the last election will start to do.

It matters that Fox will host this debate, too, though it’s still too early to tell how. In the wake of the Dominion settlement and with Smartmatic still to come, Fox News has swung wildly from supporting to criticizing Trump. But Rupert Murdoch does seem intent on finding an alternative to him. And that means this debate may provide an opportunity for someone else to break out of the pack.

Stolen documents

Recent reporting suggests that possible August Georgia indictments may not even be the next indictments against Trump.

Last week, both the WSJ and Bloomberg reported that the stolen documents investigation is substantially finished, with Bloomberg suggesting it could be a matter of days or weeks after today’s federal holiday before Jack Smith announces charges.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his investigation into former president Donald Trump’s refusal to return classified documents after his election defeat and is poised to announce possible criminal charges in the days or weeks after Memorial Day, according to people familiar with the matter.

For months, key Republicans like Bill Barr and Andy McCarthy have been treating the stolen documents case as a legitimate investigation, effectively giving firebreathing Republicans permission to criticize Trump for these suspected crimes. And they’re doing so even if this is charged only as obstruction, 18 USC 1519.

Jack Smith might tell any of four stories with a hypothetical stolen documents indictment:

  • A straight-up obstruction charge for blowing off the August subpoena, the likes of which Barr envisions
  • An 18 USC 793 indictment charging fairly innocuous documents — the two classified documents used along with post-presidential records and the schedules Chamberlain Harris copied — both of which show Trump made use of stolen classified documents for his own personal benefit; such an indictment might focus on the fact that Trump made classified documents available to others, including non-staffers, too
  • An 18 USC 793 indictment making it clear that Trump sought out some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets in advance to take with him when he left; such an indictment might plausibly include a 18 USC 2071 charge, which with conviction, disqualifies someone from holding federal office (though that punishment is constitutionally suspect)
  • An Espionage Act indictment making it clear that documents Trump is believed to have stolen have not yet been retrieved and tying gaps in surveillance footage to business meetings at Mar-a-Lago with foreigners reflecting Smith’s recent focus on Trump’s business deals

We don’t know how Jack Smith will charge it if he does (or where, which for reasons I laid out here, is critically important). But the very last thing Smith is known to have done — the one thing he has done since what WaPo described as the last known grand jury meeting on May 5 — is obtain 16 documents from the Archives advising Trump about whether or how he should declassify specific records.

In a May 16 letter obtained by CNN, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall writes to Trump, “The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”


According to the letter, Trump tried to block the special counsel from accessing the 16 records by asserting a claim of “constitutionally based privilege.” But in her letter, Wall rejects that claim, stating that the special counsel’s office has represented that it “is prepared to demonstrate with specificity to a court, why it is likely that the 16 records contain evidence that would be important to the grand jury’s investigation.”

The special counsel also told the Archives that the evidence is “not practically available from another source.”

The letter goes on to state that the records will be handed over on May 24, 2023 “unless prohibited by an intervening court order.”

Smith would have obtained these records last Wednesday, three weeks after the last activity of the grand jury.

You don’t hold off on indicting someone to obtain such records — the content of which Smith surely already knew from interviews with those who wrote the documents — solely to indict on obstruction.

There’s literally no predicting how Republicans would respond to a stolen documents indictment. But Barr and McCarthy have been laying the foundation to use it to finally split with Trump for months. And if such an indictment included a 18 USC 2071 count, it would present the additional dilemma for Republicans that if an inevitable constitutional challenge of the statute failed, their leading candidate could not legally be President.

It matters, too, that Jack Smith is a white male who has said literally nothing since he was appointed, not an elected Black prosecutor. It matters that Merrick Garland didn’t take the bait last week (though virtually every journalist did), when Trump responded to news of an imminent indictment by trying to turn this into a legal fight between him and Joe Biden’s appointed Attorney General, rather than him and laws his own advisors told him not to break.

I don’t know what to expect from a hypothetical stolen documents indictment; nor does anyone else. But I do know that if it drops in the next month or so, if it is perceived as legitimate and serious, it provides an opportunity for Republicans who have long been seeking an opportunity to split with Trump.

January 6 conspiracy

Finally, there are potential charges tied to January 6, which may have to wait on appellate certainty around the presumed lead charge, 18 USC 1512(c)(2) or may require an interim set of charges against others.

Aside from expecting some conspiracy charge under that obstruction statute, though, we have no idea what such an indictment might look like. Here are some possibilities that would affect how the GOP responds:

Trump could be charged with inciting the attempted assassination of his Vice President. Smith — and DOJ prosecutors before him — spent a lot of time obtaining details about the communications between Mike Pence and Trump in advance of insurrection, as well as on Trump’s inaction that day. While it would be the most aggressive potential charge, there is evidence to support it. How would mainstream Republicans respond if Trump were charged with siccing a mob he knew to be armed on a lifelong GOPer, someone who will be an announced primary challenger to Trump by then?

Trump could be charged with aiding and abetting the near-murder of Michael Fanone. I’ve laid out how distinctly DOJ treated the prosecution of Danny Rodriguez’ co-conspirator. Prosecutors aired footage from Ellipse speeches rather than excluding it from trial, as DOJ has successfully done with dozens of other defendants. DOJ developed evidence to show Rodriguez responding viscerally and violently to Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s Ellipse speeches just hours before he walked to the Capitol and tased a cop defending it. Rodriguez confessed to the FBI he knew in advance such casualties might be necessary. If DOJ were to implicate Trump in such an assault — something Judge Amit Mehta said was at least plausible over a year ago — it would implicate Trump in the worst assault of an officer that day.

Trump could be charged with conspiring with convicted seditionists. As I laid out here, Trump asked Alex Jones to bring his mob to the Capitol, and after Jones brought the mob there, the Proud Boys exploited those bodies to attack the Capitol. Trump is — as an exhibit introduced in the Christopher Worrell case (whose guilty verdict was closely reliant on evidence implicating Roger Stone) showed — literally the coin of the Proud Boys gang.

DOJ emphasized the import of Trump’s Stand Back and Stand By comment from the opening arguments of that sedition trial. Those are just some of the reasons why it is possible DOJ could charge Trump for conspiring not just with Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, but also with men already convicted of sedition. Such a charge would take more time to develop — but charging Trump with conspiring with the Proud Boys is completely within the realm of conspiracy law.

Trump’s efforts to cheat could damage swing-state Republican parties. Before Trump asked Republicans from seven swing states to help him create fraudulent certificates in an attempt to steal the election, Kenneth Cheesebro wrote down (!!!) that such an effort would be legally problematic in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. It’s bad enough asking key Republicans to break the law to help win an election; it is insane that Trump’s lawyers wrote down that it would be illegal before asking them. Of those four states, only Republicans in Pennsylvania took adequate efforts to protect themselves legally from Trump’s requests that they submit fraudulent certificates to the Archives. That means it is possible that DOJ will charge some of the most prominent Republicans in precisely the states that Trump proved unable to win in 2020. Such charges could align Trump and those Republican parties on the same side, or it could really piss off those whom Trump’s recklessness endangered. In Georgia, at least, some prominent Republicans have chosen to testify against others if it means avoiding jail time themselves and I could see Republicans in other states making the same choice.

Trump could be accused of cheating Republican small donors. Trump’s success in 2016 and since has always built off his success at fundraising from small donors. But even as he reaped millions from such efforts, he played fast and loose with campaign finance law, violations of the law for which Republican Federal Elections Commissioners have thus far refused to punish him. Now Jack Smith is reportedly considering criminal charges for the same kind of conduct — in fact, criminal charges tied to claiming he was going to pursue election integrity but then paying lawyers for unrelated legal exposure. Such charges for defrauding his supporters — parallel to the successful charges SDNY prosecuted in the Build the Wall case — would make it clear that Trump has been cheating loyal Republicans for years. They may not care in bulk, but some of the Build the Wall victims did. Such charges might also limit the ways Trump could fundraise going forward. Republicans might not care about the fraud itself, but they would care if a presidential candidate might be disadvantaged financially because of alleged crimes he had committed in the past.

Obviously, we don’t know whether these prosecutors will charge and if so with what (though in both the Georgia and stolen documents case, prosecutors look poised to ask a grand jury for an indictment). The Georgia case is the only one where we have a good idea of timing (though that timing is guaranteed to matter for the primary).

Trump actually used the Russian investigation brilliantly to win personal loyalty from Republicans who had previously been tepid to him (something I’ve been meaning to write up). The Alvin Bragg indictment, similarly, helped him at least in the short term. Trump’s bio on his failed media site literally equates the pursuit of him with an attack on his aggrieved supporters.

This is an utterly central part of his brand, the conceit that totally justified legal pursuits of him were really just an attack on the core identities of angry white nationalists.

And that brand has worked stupendously well. They love him because he is a suspected criminal according to the code of their imagined Deep State. There’s some reason to believe that Boris Epshteyn, a political advisor gatekeeping his legal advisors, has pursued a strategy in the stolen documents case that emphasizes this confrontation even while putting Trump at far greater legal risk.

Thus far, Trump has successfully used his own legal exposure as a way to grievance-monger with other Republicans, building loyalty every time his own legal jeopardy increases. If he were able to seal the GOP nomination before more serious indictments drop, he might do the same here.

But the possibility — the likelihood even — of criminal charges before he makes this equation into the GOP slogan for the entire 2024 election may disrupt that power.

The next three months, before the primary formally starts with a debate, are likely to be unprecedented in the history of presidential elections. Because they are unprecedented, literally no one can envision how those events will affect the primary, even if we know what the charges were and who else will get charged.

What we can be sure of, though, is that the old stale horse race analysis won’t apply to this race.

Update: I should have made something clearer. This analysis, about the impact of potential indictments alone, is meant to be separate from the possibility he’ll be convicted of these crimes. It is virtually impossible that Trump would be convicted before November 2024, and barring a successful application of 18 USC 2071, none of these charges would prevent him from being elected.

Rather, the argument here is that these indictments have the ability to alter the loyalty calculus for Republican voters. I’m not even arguing that will work against Trump! There are a number of ways it could actually help him, at least through the primary. All I’m saying is that each of these potential indictments carries with it the possibility of upending the loyalty that the NYT described, and doing so in ways that are so unprecedented (even setting aside the way Trump himself is almost unprecedented in the US), that no one will really know how it’ll all fall out.

And that’s probably why more Republicans keep hopping into the race.

92 replies
  1. Spank Flaps says:

    Keen observer from across the pond here. I had to start following US politics a few years ago, because of concerns about democracy, and NATO.
    Ironically I never understood Brexit until I understood Trump.
    When America sneezes, Britain catches a cold. Literally all the dirty tricks of the GOP get copied by the Tories (with the exception of guns, fingers crossed).
    I must say the last two US presidential election cycles were painful, and I’m dreading the next one.

    • Rayne says:

      Other way around with the sneezes and colds in this case. Brexit was a proof of concept that Trump could be elected with help from a foreign influence operation, because Brexit was a foreign influence operation. Both relied on manipulating a narrow swing margin.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        More Brits are finally waking up to that, along with the stupendously high cost of Brexit, and that the Tories intentionally did SFA to prepare for its obvious consequences.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Spank Flaps might feel better if they remember that TERFistry is a proud UK export avidly consumed in the United States. The international trade in crazy is not just a one-way market.

  2. BobBobCon says:

    For an absolutely infuriating parallel, Maggie Haberman’s reporting on the political landscape in early 2020 was pure horserace stuff too. No mention of Covid.

    Stuff like a Bloomberg-Trump tiff, trying to exploit Yucca Mountain, a bailout of a Brazilian agricultural firm…. and all the while the US was watching the world shutting down.

    At the time, Trump was in denial and had made it clear to his people that nobody was supposed to talk about Covid. But rather than lift her head to what was happening and reporting about how many Americans were going to die because of Trump’s denial, and the abject failure of the White House staff and appointees, Haberman fiddled over the return of Hope Hicks.

    To be clear, other reporters and outlets were on the ball, and saw the looming disaster. But Haberman’s attitude has always been it’s not a story if her sources don’t want to talk about it, and if events finally force her hand, her job is nothing more than to be an outlet for what her sources want to say.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s true. But it is also the case that she needs Trump to remain relevant for herself to remain relevant. If he starts looking like a crook–something else she has went to great efforts to help him avoid–then she’ll be tainted by association.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Which would explain, perhaps, why it seems as if she never reads any of the legal coverage in her own paper.

        • HikaakiH says:

          Yet another illustration of the old saw about it being nigh impossible to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on not understanding that very thing.

    • Reader 21 says:

      By way of comparison, to cite Maggie’s impressive ability to look away, per EW’s astute observation—to cite just one example, in 2015-16 Maggie Haberman wrote over 90 times about emails and / or Benghazi, basically whenever she wrote about Hillary (which was often).  During that same, critical time period—guess how many times Ms Maggie saw fit to mention (let alone do a deep dive on, or even reference the deep dive her own paper and other outlets had done reporting on) on Individual-1’s long-standing, notorious (but not well known outside of NYC and its reporters, and certainly not in the Midwest) ties to, first Italian, then Russian and transnational alleged, suspected or indicted associates of organized crime?  That would be zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Over 90—which seems like a lot—to nary a mention.  Seems strange, no?

  3. oldtulsadude says:

    Thank you.
    I have managed for the most part to disentangle myself from our current crop of newsissists reading their stelfies about whatever show they are the producer of. Now I turn to Emptywheel for genuine information.

  4. MissyDC says:

    There’s a rumor circulating at the Nazi bar birdapp that FBI has footage of J6 bomber getting into car. License plate too. Maybe DOJ was waiting for Proud Boys trial to end or OK sentencing? I want to believe they know who the bomber is but are using that person to catch bigger fish. Thoughts? (And no, I don’t think it’s MTG).

    Apologies if user name incorrect, haven’t posted for a while.

    • emptywheel says:

      There’s an indictment from a separate Jan6 related grand jury that was obtained about 2 weeks ago. We haven’t seen it yet.

      I have literally no idea what that is–it could be any of a number of things, including the target of one of several defendants who flipped whose cooperation also remains obscure. But something unknown and unusual like that is out there.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Missy, I’m not on Twitter. Is that rumor in the press anywhere? I’ve been waiting for news on the bomber for so long that I’ll admit I’ve given up.

    • EuroTark says:

      I have not heard that rumor, but ask yourself this: Why would that footage show up now? I can think of several reasons, but none of them gives credibility to either the footage or rumor. I fear this is just standard wishful thinking, drawing on the fact that the bomber has gotten far too little attention.

  5. Doctor My Eyes says:

    What a sad sign of the times that we all know what the word “grievance-mongering” means and could each reel off example after example.

    Americans show ourselves to be absolutely unmoored from the foundations of our government when we idly wonder about the effect of being found guilty of sedition on the chances of a person getting elected president. (This is a criticism of most press coverage, not EW’s essay.)

    From Washington’s Farewell Address;

    This Government, the offspring of our own choice . . . has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. . . . The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.

    All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.

  6. Peterr says:

    Your update is spot on, and I’d add one additional piece to it.

    How indictments are rolled out will matter, in terms of how they affect the media coverage and the public receptions. I anticipate that any indictments will be “speaking indictments” that lay our not just bare bones of an accusation but the broader story of the alleged crime(s). Jack Smith will be telling the judge “We’re not being frivolous or partisan or glory-seeking here — real crimes happened, and here’s who we think committed them and why we think that.” He knows that there will be an immediate motion to dismiss, and will want those indictments to be sufficiently bulletproof as to insure that the case clears this initial hurdle and makes it to trial

    This, in turn, will affect the horse race vs substance balance of the media coverage, and not in a direction Trump will like.

    At. All.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Exactly what I was thinking about, Peterr, while I read EW’s terrific post. The underlying point seems to be that Ye Olde Venn Diagram applies: timing of charges overlapped with their severity may determine whether/how hard Trump’s GOP rivals turn on him.

      I read the NYT article when it published. This one is so, so, SO much better.

  7. John Forde says:

    This is the intrigue:
    1. Classified documents still missing
    2. Intelligence visibility (into Saudi behavior) that has gone dark
    …both scream for an espionage charge.

    • HikaakiH says:

      One thing that the Trumpies do get is the power of money. If there is some real intelligence ‘quid’ paired up with the $2B investment ‘pro quo’ that the Saudis gave to Wunderboy, the Trumpies will have a hard time dismissing that from their thoughts. As much as the Trumpies have contorted their minds to find themselves in support of white, European, Christian Russians, their heads will explode before they find such warm feelings for the brown, Arabian, Muslim Saudis.

      • bmaz says:

        It was “given”, as a public share purchase by the Saudi prince, to Twitter well before Musk. They simply decided not to sell their minority share interest when Musk bought most of the rest and turned it private. Jack Dorsey still retains some shares too.

      • Lady4real says:

        The Muslims turned green a bit into his presidency. They only see green no matter what they sell the the rank and file rubes who fund the GOP in small donations.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Please do not conflate the Islamic faith or the entire population of over a billion souls with the policies of the Saudi monarchy.

          And it may be unwise to expect consistency from the radical right wing. If you believe that an intolerant god grants your people the privilege of ruling others and reaping great wealth, you are on the same side as others who share that belief. At least until all other opposition (e.g., tolerant social democrats) has been crushed. What’s a bit of melanin among friends who do business together? (Remember, too: the Georgia courts decided to consider Arabs “white” as far back as 1915, and this was made national policy by the 1940s.)

        • JimmyAnderson says:

          Didn’t ‘the Digger’ also profess under oath, that the colour of Fox News output had nothing to do with Red or Blue…. it was all about the Green.

  8. Rayne says:

    It’s not only annoying that NYT and other media outlets are ignoring the indictment icebergs in the sea of GOP candidates, but their continued treatment of politics as a horse race even should they add indictments as handicaps does gross disservice to the American public. They continue to ignore the public’s need for more useful information about candidates.

    They pointedly avoid discussing what’s at stake if each and any one of the GOP candidates should win their nomination and the general election.

    See NYU’s Jay Rosen:

    He’d discussed this on MSNBC’s 11th Hour a couple weeks ago:

    It’s just so frustrating. The news media should damned well know as J-school grads the public needs usable information, not politics-as-sports.

    • TobiasBaskin says:

      Restaurants know that their customers need fruits and vegetables but that knowledge does not prevent their salads being 50% cheese. People love sports. My local newspaper is kept afloat by a large and deep sports section. If they started to offer a fair and balanced account of the Yankees (I live in Red Sox land) then they would loose subscribers. Sports rivalries are (mostly) all good fun. I agree, the media know that exporting that framework to politics is unhealthy for the public, but doing so sells. How do they (or anyone) convince the public to eat their (political) vegetables? I have no idea. Yes, frustrating! Everyone needs to read EmptyWheel! Always tasty and nutritious!

      • Rayne says:

        Parents face this question frequently: how does one get a veggie-resistant child to eat their greens?

        Journalists aren’t trained just to do research; they’re trained to write and write well. If they tell a compelling story it will be effective and encourage more consumption.

        Like adding a favorite salad dressing to broccoli to dress it up, the unpalatable can be made appealing and tasty.

          • JimmyAnderson says:

            Which is EXACTLY why we all read here – whether the articles coincidence with our ‘prejudice’ or not.
            It’s fascinating to see Marcy unpick the detail.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Good discussion. Frustration shared to the nth degree. I want to add an element, however. The forces driving what is covered and how are even more insidious than making a profit off media. The uber-wealthy, who control much of the media, have an agenda. Their choice of what to cover and how strongly reflects that agenda. Networks regularly turn away cold hard cash offered by left wing groups to air Super Bowl ads, for one clear example. I tend to think nonsense we see springs from a general milieu of shameless profit motive while the specifics are largely calculated to keep we the people from being able to unite effectively around the candidates and causes that actually affect our lives.

        The real solutions to many of our problems would deprive rich people of their obscene wealth advantage over common people. Yeah, it’s driven by money, but it’s worth losing money on media to control the narrative. Owning the Supreme Court, for example, is a lot more “profitable” than ad sales to Bud.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      I agree with Rayne and the entire thread. Just wanna point out that the corruption goes way beyond political news. Business news is even worse. Who needs another Atlas Shrugged profile of a Great Bidnizman? Pro tip: any “business news” that emphasizes the stock market is crap. And that includes you, NPR.

  9. Fiendish Thingy says:

    A few GOP candidates/potential candidates have tested the waters with the “Trump (unfortunately) is unelectable and will drag the rest of the party’s candidates down with him” narrative.

    In the weeks leading up to the first debate, as anticipated indictments drop, I expect this narrative will surge, helped along by establishment Republicans not currently holding office (and a handful who are) and some in the conservative media who are “just asking questions”.

    CNN of course, will continue to interview “economically anxious” white boomers in Midwest diners on why Trump’s indictments don’t matter to them.

    While this narrative may have limited impact on the GOP primaries, as Trump has rigged the game in his favor, I do expect it will take a toll on his odds in the general election. Expect lots of all caps tweets about “President Harris” as an attempted deflection from all the coverage of the indictments and trials.

    Now if No Labels can just convince DeSantis to run as their spoiler candidate instead of Manchin…

  10. Richard Byrne says:

    Thank you, Marcy, for expressing what should be obvious to anyone who claims any expertise in politics.

    Yet you DO need to express it! Because clearly these experts are oblivious.

    I would lay $100 right now that neither Trump nor Biden will be on the ballot in November 2024. Even the merest possibility of this happening should be at the front of the collective mind of the political universe.

  11. Phaedruses says:

    Another aspect of the GOP nomination process that people running to replace Trump at the head of the ticket will have to address is Ukraine/Russia situation. Trump basically backs Putin at Ukraine’s expense. He has backed Russia since his first campaign, and has attacked NATO while in office. DeSantis has also sided closely with the Russian side by trying to make it none of our business especially in respect to the weapons we are providing the Ukrainians. The Maga’s mostly follow Trumps lead and support Russia, while many less extremist GOP politicians are not following their lead.

    Senator McConnell and Speaker McCarthy both have made statements in support of Ukraine. This helps fellow republicans speak out on this issue in contrast with both Trump and DeSantis. This in turn gives possible candidates cover if they decide to side with the current policy of the US and our NATO partners.

    Senator Lindsey Graham has come out is strong support of former Senator John McCain’s position against Putin’s attempt at recreating the former USSR’s borders as present day Russian borders. The latest dust up is comments Sen Graham made while in a meeting with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv. The Russians have issuing an arrest warrant for Sen graham, and the Russian media loud mouths calling for the assassination of Sen Graham. That should go over will in GOP circles.

    As things escalate this summer with the next Ukrainian Offensive, deliveries of M1 tanks, F-16’s and possibly ATACMs, the people running and advising for candidates will have to take stands because both Trump and DeSantis already have. Trump’s base leans pro-Russia but many old guard republicans probably do not. This will become a larger issue as the Ukrainians push the Russian back further, possibly even beyond the pre-Feb 2022 lines. I foresee a distinct possibility that Ukrainians could by mid fall be fighting in Crimea, and inside the Donbas region that Russia has held since 2014.

    The war in Ukraine, Israeli-Iranian confrontation and China vs Taiwan will be the foreign policy front burners. These Issues will keep coming back to headlines and need addressing by the candidates. From what I can see right now, the GOP is leaning more for Ukraine, though a significant sect who support trump are pro Russia. The GOP is almost 100% behind Israel, and is more for than against supporting Taiwan.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      A good time to point out that anyone referring to the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” is on Putin’s side.

  12. Capecodmercury says:

    I agree with your disgust over the horserace tripe that the media seems to fall into (and actively promote) whenever a presidential race rolls around. My concern, and my big worry is whether we might be facing an unexpected pitfall.

    First, one thing I expect over the next 6-8 months is that Trump is going to absolutely destroy DeSantis as a viable nominee. Trump will take absolute glee in tearing DeSantis to pieces just like he destroyed Bush, Rubio, Christie, Cruz et al in 2016. DeSantis is already toxic to the left. Trump will make him toxic to MAGA. And the main stream (and right wing) press will gleefully aid and abet the destruction.

    Next, I firmly believe that Trump himself is going to implode at some point early next year. At some point, the indictments and trial prep are going to take their toll, if not on him, but on his supporters. Yes, there will be a core level of the ultra MAGA who will support him until the end, but the steady drip of evidence and revelations will continue to bleed off his support, particularly those with the deep pockets. If the grift stops being profitable for him, he might be willing to cut his losses, particularly if he thinks he can parlay that into settlement of his legal issues.

    My concern is what happens then? If both DeSantis and Trump are non viable, then the media will be desperate to reinvigorate the horse race trope (ratings, don’t you know). At that point, the Republicans are going to be open to a dark horse candidate (again with the horse race metaphors) that can slide in with minimal vetting. And the media will gleefully fall in line with promoting the candidate because, once again, a close race is better for their ratings.

    My concern is someone like Glen Youngkin is going to enter the race late and is going to be able to pick up the pieces. For the media, he would be a relatively new face with an attractive story line and I think they would go along with a superficial examination of his beliefs and policies.

    In sum, I believe the next 6-8 months will be extremely messy and progressives need to be careful not to get too invested in enjoying the drama. We need to keep our eyes on the ultimate end.

    • Rayne says:

      You do realize you just did a horse race rundown handicapping all the GOP likely candidates, yes?

      Tell us instead what’s at risk if Youngkin gets the GOP nod, because that’s what Democrats need to be prepared to fight.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Youngkin is another Trump wannabe, as smart and ambitious as DeSantis, but with infinitely better social skills than either. His policies would be more stealthy than DeSantis’s, but just as damaging to the economy, civil rights and civil society.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I see Capecodmercury more as war-gaming than horse-race handicapping. It’s a legitimate exercise, as you point out, Rayne.

        Semantics, metaphors, and “dark horse” figurative language aside, Glenn Youngkin poses a true stealth threat. And we do indeed need to game out opposition to a potential run by him or any of the others (ND governor, et. al.) poised to slide so very smoothly into position.

      • Purple Martin says:

        Despite being unable to vote for a national Republican since GHW Bush lost his 1992 reelection attempt, early this year I wrote this comment to a WaPo story mentioning Mega-MAGA, MAGA-Adjacent, and Old Guard Republicans, and Ted Cruz’s presidential ambitions (heck, may have used it here before; my apologies if so):

        Will note Ted Cruz and anyone who supports him are closest to MAGA-Adjacent, not Old Guard. His never-really-was time…is long past.

        But you neglected someone who may attract the last two, and whose recent actions lead one to suspect he may be aware of it: Georgia Gov Brian Kemp.

        He seems to be the one person able to mostly avoid the Trump stink, say he’s anti-woke without seeming as mean about it and hold traditionally popular ultra-right positions, all while cooperating with some to his left just enough to make his state work…mostly. He’s like a Glenn Youngkin, but a much better politician (and proven vote-tactician), which includes the ability to project an image of genuineness, with a sincerity Youngkin also tries but is not quite able to fake.

        I’ll go out on a limb right now and say Kemp may well leapfrog the rest of the unimpressive GOP field and replace Ron DeSantis when folks realize DeSantis has no attraction beyond the cruelty-is-the-point/own the libs crowd, which is pretty much an overlap with the Mega-MAGAs.

        I’ll stick with that for a while longer. Ignoring the mechanics and winner-take-all-horse-races of the GOP primary, Kemp seems to have the best chance of getting both wide Republican support and the flippy Bush-Obama-Trump (and some Biden) voters in the general (Tim Scott is also kinda trying for that lane but without the advantage of a governorship, particularly of a state Biden needs).

        Best I can say about Kemp is, while he’d be continuing the string of damaging-to-the-country R presidents, he’d be like the Rs before Trump: bad within the range of normal (that last is something I can’t say about DeSantis).

        • timbozone says:

          Kemp might appeal more to the center than he would appeal to the folks who are vociferously supporting Trump. Can Kemp lose 1/3 of the GOP voters in the general and still win a Presidential election? Seems unlikely.

          On the bright side, the problems that the GOP will face with >any< Presidential candidate in 2024 at this points points to how desperate the GOP will be to have a tanked economy to blame the DP for. Of course, there's the risk that the GOP will tank the economy (they're working overtime on it?) and will be perceived to be the ones who did it too.

      • Capecodmercury says:

        The handicapping of the candidates is not my problem with the horse race trope. Rather, it is the media’s focus on keeping it a close race by putting their thumb on the scale.

        As to Youngkin, I do see him as a dangerous potential candidate because his politics are as regressive as Trump or DeSantis in many ways. His term as governor has demonstrated that he has governed far to the right of how he portrayed himself during the campaign. He ran as a moderate but has focused on culture issues since taking office. In many ways he is a more polished Trump or DeSantis.

        I am using him as an example because I do believe his win in Virginia was possible because he was a blank slate to many voters. He tried to come across as innocuous as possible the better not to offend the large portion of the electorate that is minimally aware of issues.

        It might be cynical, but I think we all need to keep in mind that the percentage of voters that actually take the time to investigate issues is far smaller than those who just look at the high points. And Youngkin, with his suburban dad persona could appeal to that electorate, particularly if the media went along with a superficial examination of his politics in service of creating a close race.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Pretty sure Youngkin lost his Halloween mask soon after he won the governorship. GW Bush’s malapropisms notwithstanding, Virginians are not likely to be fooled again.

    • EuroTark says:

      I see your Youngkin and raise a (baby) Cheney.

      I don’t think it’s in any way plausible, but certain media would definitely try to sell her as bipartisan *shudder*.

    • gertibird says:

      I see Sununu possibly sliding into that spot. He was on last Sunday morning news shows. Young, likable, pro-choice and popular Republican from NH. The abortion issue is not going away and even Republicans are unhappy with the bans Red State governors and legislatures are implementing. Sununu was asked if he would be running or would accept the vp position if asked. He didn’t rule either of these out.

  13. joel fisher says:

    When will he stop? Never. One shouldn’t ignore the fact that Trump will never stop running and, depending on the competence of his advisors, will be on the ballot in 2024 either as the GOP nominee or as the outrageously cheated write in. Most of his droolers will never abandon him and won’t vote for whatever crook stole the nomination from him.

  14. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Thanks for the post and the comments that extend the considerations about a complex environment that is the context for a truly unique, and perilous, period in our history. The media has normalized Trump into a colorful and abject and powerful figure.

    Here are a few aspects of the context I’m wondering about: new methods of voter suppression/denial; the spectrum of the culture war and how this effort possibly makes it impossible to tack back to the center; DeSantis’s focus on door-to-door ground game aimed at untapped pools of apathetic evangelical voters; politicized NAR mega-churches; stochastic violence; Biden’s health; the configuration and further activation of the under-forty vote; the weird economic picture; exhaustion; the GOP’s increasingly incoherent views of large corporations. Then there are unknown x-factors.

    Everything bites hard into “not business as usual.” Yes: unprecedented and unpredictable. One last element: what is the Democratic Party going to broadly do to shape its practical and messaging efforts against authoritarianism?

  15. jsrtheta says:

    I appreciate much of the emphasis here, but the mechanics seem largely incomplete.

    There is one state-level prosecution where the indictment has been returned and a trial date set. In New York, Manhattan to be exact, where he is quite unlikely to face a sympathetic jury.

    There is another state-level case in Georgia, future uncertain.

    There are at least two potential federal prosecutions, one devastating (the classified papers case), one much more iffy, the “insurrection” case.

    All of these cases have the potential to stop Trump in his tracks when he tries to campaign. Trump, starting with the pending Manhattan case, will do everything he can to delay all of these trials. It’s what he does. My last murder case as a prosecutor took over a year to get to trial because the defense filed 150 pretrial motions, all of them doomed, all of them frivolous, but all of which had to be resolved prior to picking a jury. Trump could learn from that defense team.

    If the judge in the first case keeps control, he can keep Trump off the campaign trail until a verdict is returned. If not, all of this may fail to keep him out of the White House. Time is especially crucial in criminal cases. Statutes of limitation and speedy trial rights can stop a prosecution in its tracks. But unlike civil cases, Trump does not have the luxury of absenting himself from the court. Every day he is forced to be in a courtroom.

    The sheer mechanics of the justice system can stop Trump in his tracks if allowed to work as intended. The question is whether the various judges have the balls to treat him like any other felon.

    • bmaz says:

      The Manhattan prosecution is dogshit and Fani Willis in Georgia is a borderline unethical prosecutor more deserving of a bar investigation than praise. We are aware of all of them, do you not read here often? Jack Smith appears to be doing his job as quietly and appropriately as he should, and unlike the noisy politically motivated Bragg and Willis.

      “If the judge in the first case keeps control, he can keep Trump off the campaign trail until a verdict is returned.”

      Keeps control? In order to keep Trump off the campaign trail? You think that is a proper purpose and goal of the criminal justice system? Seriously? By the way, since you are all so interested in statutes of limitation, the Manhattan prosecution is beyond stale in that regard, but here you are cheering it. And, for a “former prosecutor”, you are extremely loose with the description of Trump as a “felon”. Can you point out to me his prior felony conviction? I’ll be waiting.

      • jsrtheta says:

        Boy, you sure have a lot of anger here.

        It is a judge’s job to get a case to trial. It is not a judge’s job to enable delay for the purpose of AVOIDING trial. And that is exactly what Trump will labor to do. Do you doubt this? Have you been living, perhaps, on another planet?

        Or do you think Trump will appear on his scheduled trial date, fold his hands, and sit quietly while the prosecution presents its case?

        You might not like these cases, but a grand jury has returned an indictment. The case is set for trial. Do you expect the defense to answer “Ready”?

        Or do you think these cases should be dismissed, maybe with an apology to the defendant, because you think they’re weak? Is this a new rule of criminal procedure?

        Are courts henceforth supposed to just ignore indictments? A curious approach to a justice system.

        • bmaz says:

          Thanks pal, I understand the criminal jury trial system just fine without your lecturing me what the “job” is. You are full of it. And, no, I expect the defense to lodge a strong motion to dismiss. And, not “anger”, just impatience with commenters blowing poo and gaslighting people.

          You might not like these cases, but a grand jury has returned an indictment. The case is set for trial. Do you expect the defense to answer “Ready”?

          When the time comes, yes.

          Or do you think these cases should be dismissed, maybe with an apology to the defendant, because you think they’re weak? Is this a new rule of criminal procedure?

          Are courts henceforth supposed to just ignore indictments? A curious approach to a justice system.

          Don’t be a jackass and put words in my mouth I came nowhere near uttering. If that is going to be your tact, you can be gone quite easily.

          • jsrtheta says:

            Still with the hostility.

            And your brilliant solution is a “strong motion to dismiss”? Maybe, maybe not. But that can be handled well in advance of the trial date. Judges set deadlines, and motions get filed. Plenty of time for that. Trial is months away.

            But a motion to dismiss is a common motion, almost always unsuccessful. The one ground they’ve been pushing in the press is not very persuasive. And if it’s denied, and the judge keeps the trial date, things could heat up. And I expect Smith will have indicted on the records case long before then.

          • pverby says:

            “Gone quite easily”? You mean if someone has the temerity to disagree with bmaz, they are at risk of being banned from commenting? Come on now, that seems a bit harsh, no? I can’t imagine that Marcy agrees with such overkill.

            [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. With only (9) comments at this site to date, you will not be grandfathered to keep your existing username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingon says:

          Will need to curtail ethanol production, because there’s not enough popcorn.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      “If the judge in the first case keeps control, he can keep Trump off the campaign trail until a verdict is returned.”

      Not sure how this is supposed to work. The “campaign trail” is wherever Trump is, especially on social media. Even assuming the judge keeps him in court during trial days (4/week?), that gives him the courthouse steps as a podium. And Fox’s studio nearby. Judge Merchan has yet to demonstrate a willingness to clamp down (nor should he, arguably). I see Trump churning all these sows’ ears into, well, ratings gold.

  16. Padfoot says:

    Hate to say it, but I expect that each indictment will only increase Trump’s share of the GOP primary vote. The base believes that a deep state exists, and each indictment will be proof that they are correct. The man could win the primary from prison at this point.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for what is clearly your own opinion with the bonus feature of being pro-Trump propaganda.

      How does sharing your opinion here help anybody but Trump? Did you think you’d get a biscuit for your two-bits?

      • MWFfromSAT says:

        Thank you Rayne. Contrary to what the MSM has been spewing (and Padfoot), I am not seeing Trump’s base expanding here at ground level. My entire family were ardent Trump supporters/donors….In the last year, I’ve seen their support for Trump peel off. All had different reasons for the loss of their trump support—from stolen documents to E. Jean’s case,…but the reason that surprised me most was trump’s stance/influence/response on the environment, and his response to climate change and resulting disasters. At least some folks who were trump supporters are starting to become more aware of what 4 more years of his leadership might look like…when it directly affects them personally. And I don’t think my family is unique politically.

      • elvis says:

        Isn’t it just simple math? Trump probably has somewhere between 20-30% of the electorate, which translates to over 50% of the Republican primary vote. He is not going to get many new votes, and will probably lose some votes, but if there are five candidates trying to pick him off, it’s difficult to see how these candidates are going to be able to make a substantial enough dent in his support, when, my recollection is, that many of these primaries are winner take all. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that Trump can become the nominee for the Republicans. What happens at the Republican convention, when Trump has the most delegates and can’t appear perhaps because he is incarcerated, is something I can’t really imagine.

        [Emptywheel protocol mandates at least an eight character user name. Please create one and advise what your new screen name is]

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, there is about zero chance Trump will be incarcerated at the time of the GOP convention, which is July 15-18, 2024.

        • Elvishaslefthebuilding says:

          Apparently I was on a sugar high with all the donuts I’ve been eating. I meant to type my full name.

          • bmaz says:

            Lol, that’s cool. I thought you had already done that, but did not have time to go look.

        • Rayne says:

          Ugh. We don’t care about the fucking math which is just another way of talking about the odds of Trump being elected.

          The public needs to know what’s at stake if any one of the candidates is elected, NO MATTER THE ODDS.

          If the public sees this next general election as nothing more than another horse race, they won’t have any more connection to the process and outcome than they do about the White Sox versus the Angels this afternoon. Tell them they’re likely to see more of their rights stripped, more of the tax dollars stolen by corruption, more of their status in global politics lost and they might give enough of a shit to both vote and vote for someone less monstrous.

  17. Michael1976 says:

    Does it mean anything that the grand jury hasn’t met in 3 weeks? Is it a good sign? A bad sign?

    • bmaz says:

      No way of knowing, but wouldn’t worry about it. Doubt that would have occurred if Smith was not mostly done, but there is no way to know.

    • emptywheel says:

      As i said, Smith was waiting on those documents. There’s a non-zero chance those docs are tied to specific things Trump stole, either in the first batch, or another one. In other words, if Pat Cipollone said, “Well, Trump, you can declassify these RU investigation docs, but not those other ones” and those other ones ended up at MAL, then it would be compelling evidence that he took docs he knew shouldn’t be declassified.

      The logistics in a normally big arrest are difficult enough: You have to get 100s of FBI agents deployed in advance, particularly if there’s a potential follow-up search, as I think would be possible here.

      I think it also likely that at least two other people — Walt Nauta and Boris Epshteyn — get charged with Trump. They likely will be arrested right away.

      But add in all the other logistical problems of arresting a former President, with his own jet and properties in multiple other countries.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        And let’s not forget aftershocks in the domestic-terrorist-harboring communities.

        Given that, if indictments do come down, a media super-circus will come into play, I am heartened by MG’s ability to effectively bat down TFG’s PR ploys. May MG be as successful when the shit hits the fan.

  18. surfer2099 says:

    “obtaining details about the communications between Mike Pence and Trump in advance of insurrection”

    A lesser charge instead of attempted murder that I think might be more likely is attempted kidnapping of Mike Pence. Pence has stated he wasn’t getting into his limo and Chuck Grassley said in an interview he was potentially going to administer the electoral count “IF” Mike Pence was not able to.

    I’ve always believed this was a plan B for Trump. If Pence won’t do his bidding, use the secret service to remove him and have Grassley do Trump’s bidding and return the votes back to the states. Why would Trump rely on Proud Boy flunkies to kill the VP when controls the secret service and just stash Pence in a secure bunker. (The 7 Days in May scenario)

    • wasD4v1d says:

      I think the reason Pence was going to see this through is to preserve his own Presidential ambitions – he needed there to be a Presidency to run for. Either a Trump kingship or a Supreme Court repudiation of his action – which he has stated would have been a swift 0-9 humiliation – would be the end of the road for him. Yes, he showed uncommon backbone, but entirely in service to his own self interest.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nothing uncommon about it, except in Trump’s circle. Mikey showed the minimum backbone one expects from the person next in line for the presidency. And that was after he tried mightily to find credible voices that would let him do what Trump asked. Thankfully, he couldn’t.

  19. oldtulsadude says:

    The ultimate goal of Trump is to avoid prison and keep the grift mill turning; to that end there is no telling how much damaging information about others he has that he will use as bargaining chips if absolutely necessary.

  20. Savage Librarian says:

    For reasons only my subconscious mind knows, I’m reminded of the day Jay Bratt went to Mar-a-Lago (6/3/22) and Trump allegedly walked by on his way to somewhere else. The article below claims he did a TV interview with the Miami Spanish-language station MegaTV from MAL that evening.

    But the following article says it was prerecorded on a May 25 and aired on June 2, 2022:

    “MIAMI, May 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Legendary journalist and former Miami Mayor, Tomás Regalado conducted an exclusive interview with Donald J. Trump for Mega TV.”
    “The interview, which will be seen on June 2 at 10 PM, will be broadcast in its entirety and exclusively through MEGA TV/ WSBS Channel 22 throughout the South Florida market, in Orlando, Florida, its affiliated stations and its channel MEGA TV Puerto Rico, and on its national DIRECTV signal, AT&T U-verse and Verizon Fios.”

    “After the interview, Tomás Regalado will have in his TV studio a prestigious group of guest analysts who will share their opinions on the issues discussed during the exclusive meeting at Mar-a-Lago.”

    Allegedly, by June 4, 2022, Trump was at Bedminster for the summer. At the end of July he hosted LIV there, and then on 8/2/22, Orban paid a visit. Susie Wiles sat to Trump’s right during the meeting with Orban and three other men. That week, both Trump and Orban spoke at CPAC, chaired by Matt Schlapp in Dallas. I’m rambling, I know. But in addition to the Saudis, Orban is also nagging at my mind.

    • emptywheel says:

      One other detail I can’t shake is that DOJ made no mention of seeing Trump in MAL on June 3, whereas he does show up in Trump’s narrative about the event.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I have wondered about that day, and the detail about Trump supposedly “greeting” Bratt. I’ve never found any confirmation of this; it gets murkier rather than clearer the more I look.

        Because him leaving for NJ makes more sense, the reporting you supplied, Savage Librarian, is especially helpful. Thank you. Maybe Jack Smith (who seems to have his sights on this day) will shed more light.

  21. Savage Librarian says:

    Trump: Wholly Holey Unholy

    No amount of damage control he
    does to cover up the goal he
    had can erase the toll he
    placed on any future parolee,
    who just wants to eat some ravioli
    or munch chips with guacamole,
    not be jacked up a flagpole he
    made wholly holey unholy.

    • missinggeorgecarlin says:

      Nice! That rhyme has the tempo of a early Public Enemy song…. Keep up the good work! :)

  22. Michael K says:

    “if it is perceived as legitimate and serious”

    Isn’t that the problem? It’s not like his supporters are unaware these investigations exist or will be surprised if he is hit with more indictments.

    Polls suggest the expectation of not just indictments, but convictions, is already factored in for most of his supporters (source: “Most Republicans would vote for Trump even if he’s convicted of a crime, poll finds” He can afford to lose far more than the 8% expected per that poll, and still survive the GOP primaries.

    If Fox, Newsmax, and OANN all simultanously turned against Trump, maybe that could shake things up, but how likely is that? The Murdoch empire has several times signaled an intention to abandon Trump, but each time that predictably offends their audience and decimates their ratings (to the benefit of Newsmax & OANN), they reverse course and revert to obsequious coverage of Trump. For example right after his arraignment in NY:

    Of course indictments will hurt Trump in the general. But I don’t think RW media cares about that as much as they care about maintaining their audience and perpetuating their grifts.

    • bmaz says:

      I know it does not matter for the MAGA people, but “Polls suggest the expectation of not just indictments, but convictions” show the absurdity of all this.

      General polls of the citizenry regarding criminal investigations, charging and trials are one of the dumbest and most useless things on earth. They want people who know nothing as to facts or law to vote on facts and law. Simply absurd.

      • Michael K says:

        That particular NPR/Marist poll doesn’t ask respondents to vote on any points of law. Just on the horse race, premised on a criminal conviction.

        Only 1% of Rs flip their response to “Undecided” and only 7% to another candidate premised on a conviction. Which implies that the other 63% (MOE +/- 3.4%) of Rs supporting Trump have already decided to disregard criminal convictions. EIther they’ve decided poor Trump is a victim of “witch hunts” and/or they found other rationalizations (Hillary, Hunter Biden, blah blah blah).

        • bmaz says:

          Your premise included that

          “Polls suggest the expectation of not just indictments, but convictions, is already factored in for most of his supporters (source: “Most Republicans would vote for Trump even if he’s convicted of a crime, poll finds” He can afford to lose far more than the 8% expected per that poll, and still survive the GOP primaries.

          So, yes, it appears a factor. And the general populous, especially MAGA people, are not knowledgeable enough to have smart responses and thoughts about the subject.

          • Michael K says:

            “the general populous, especially MAGA people, are not knowledgeable enough to have smart responses and thoughts about the subject”

            Ok, but knowledge of the law or even of the facts is not the main problem here.

            Even I can imagine voting for a “criminal” who is convicted of, say, abortion offenses or exposing Florida students to banned books. In general, voting according to one’s values at the expense of facts and the law is reasonable.

            The main problem is MAGAs perceive that “liberals” and “RINOs” are a dire threat to their values and their way of life. And they perceive that Trump is on their side and fighting against these threats like no one else is. Arming them with more knowledge of the facts of Trump’s misdeeds or the laws he broke won’t have any impact UNLESS it somehow shatters these perceptions. They know Trump is “bad” in many ways but as long as they perceive he is the best fighter for their tribal causes they will vote for him.

            • bmaz says:

              What I said applies to everybody, it is you that is focused on Republicans and MAGA. Polls in general, about criminal charging, prosecution and sentencing, are stupid. And sometimes misleading and harmful to the criminal justice system.

              • Michael K says:

                This article is only about the Republican primary horse race, in particular Trump’s level of support in the face of possible indictments.

                The purpose of horse race polls is to quantify public opinion. Maybe public opinion is “stupid.” But if one is critiquing horse race analysis, grounding that to hard data makes for a more informed critique.

                • bmaz says:

                  I don’t care what the stupid “horserace” article is about. That is completely irrelevant to my point.

            • Rayne says:

              “as long as they perceive he is the best fighter for their tribal causes they will vote for him.”

              What exactly is their tribal cause? That needs to be spelled out and in blunt terms, not just Trump’s failings. They don’t give a shit if he raises their personal taxes or repeatedly sells out their country. They don’t give a shit if he helps strip human rights from others. So what is it they seek from a second Trump presidency?

              That. Say it out loud, print it in plain text. Not the fucking horse race about his chances but the reason why a minority of Americans wants a cis-het white male with a history of serial sexual assault, serial bankruptcy, serial frauds, serial marital infidelity, and an inveterate golf cheat.

              You’ve give a fine example of the problem, tippy-toeing around the fact MAGA voters want a white supremacist-in-chief because they are white supremacists themselves.

              • bjet says:

                Mr K says:
                The purpose of horse race polls is to quantify public opinion. Maybe public opinion is “stupid.”

                That is qualifying, not quantifying, and data —like the tidal wave of fact-checking factoids that one notorious bankruptcy recidivist who spews lazy lies too predictably prompts, is not context.

                Context is what isn’t being provided by pollsters & ‘political’ newscasters whose insidious factoids and insipid data ‘analysis’ create & maintain false narratives like:
                1) GOP is/was the party of law & order
                2) Trump is uncontrollable
                3) the Grim Reaper is cowed
                4) Liz Cheney is heroic toast
                5) there is no GOP platform or policy

                His party’s perpetual provocation of racism & misogyny & framing of politics as identity based ‘tribalism,’ is a mercenary form of ad hominem rationalized by cynically evasive ‘market based’ libertarian ’logic’ that doesn’t hold water and betrays hostility to a functionally informed democratic decision-making PROCESS.

                Trump is nothing but a crude mimic of the politically incorrect schtick developed by Limbaugh & O’Reilly schmearing derision on treehuggers and rainbow people, but more to the point: disparaging actual law, policies and proposals that Trump’s benefactors abhor, and Mitch McConnnell and Liz Cheney are under absolutely no pressure to defend their lawmaking & unmaking record when credulous coverage reduces political choices to racism & misogyny —or not.

                Darth 2.0 could very easily be our next POTUS without argument at this rate.

Comments are closed.