This Indictment Will Likely Come Too Early for Trump to Consolidate the Party

After Trump propagandaist John Solomon published that Trump had been told he was a target of the Espionage Act investigation that has targeted him since last August, Trump did a post on his failing social media site. I’ve edited it down to the key bits:

Trump’s first response to the first public confirmation that he will soon be charged was not, as it turned out, to bellow, “Lock him up!” or even reconsider his past obstruction, but instead demand that the insurrectionists in Congress do something.

His first response was to demand that Republicans turn their focus — as they have for much of the last five years — on defending him at all costs, to the detriment of anything that better serves their interests (to say nothing of the interests of their constituents).

I’m not surprised. At some point, I will finally write a post describing how brilliantly Trump used the Russian investigation — assisted by a great deal of Russian disinformation — to successfully demand GOP loyalty to him over country. In the end, the Russian investigation was a tremendous tool Trump used to accrue power, all the while doing grave damage to the US.

His response to the public report he’ll soon be indicted was to attempt to do the same thing: make his own legal woes those of the entire GOP.

But this indictment — if it indeed gets filed in the next two weeks or so — may come too early for Trump.

That’s because, as I laid out here, there’s still plenty of time in the GOP primary for other Republicans to take advantage of Trump’s legal woes. Republicans seem to be sensing this opportunity. Chris Christie kicked off his undoubtedly doomed presidential race by focusing on Trump’s epic corruption. Mike Pence kicked off his equally doomed presidential run by emphasizing that he did his duty on January 6, unlike Trump (the presence of his brother Greg at the event undermined that message, because even after Trump almost got both he and the Vice President killed, Greg still challenged the election and voted against impeaching Trump). Asa Hutchinson called on Trump to step aside, noting he may be charged with Espionage [Act violations].

The point is not that these men will win the election. It’s that they’re using their candidacy to oppose Trump at a time when Christie and Pence and Hutchinson can anticipate that Jack Smith will soon give each a lot of material to work with. Many — not most, but many — Republicans are looking for permission to break with Trump and the timing of a potential indictment and the primary may give a way to do it.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s success at giving Kevin McCarthy a way out of the hostage situation he was forced to create just before the US credit rating was affected is having a remarkable effect on the House GOP.

Insurrectionists in Congress, who briefly considered trying to replace McCarthy, seem to have realized they don’t have the votes, and so have been trying to do something — anything — to look like they are tough. But it has only made them, and Republicans, look more ridiculous.

There are increasing reports that less radical Republicans want nothing to do with this chaos.

Greg Sargent wrote up what he describes as Biden’s deliberate attempt to marginalize the MAGAts, which is a good way of understanding it.

[I]n promising to restore “the soul of the nation” in the face of this threat, Biden has continually distinguished between MAGA Republicans and more conventional ones. This approach has been criticized by those of us who see much of the GOP as extreme and dangerous — after all, many elected Republicans helped whitewash Trump’s insurrection — and think Biden’s characterization of non-MAGA Republicans plays down that broader threat.

But Biden’s reading served him well in the debt limit standoff. Contrary to much criticism, Bidenworld believes that refusing to negotiate at the outset was key: It forced Republicans to offer their own budget, which created an opening to attack the savage spending cuts in it.

Notably, Biden and other Democrats relentlessly characterized those cuts as destructive and dangerous in the MAGA vein. Bidenworld did believe that some MAGA Republicans were willing to default and force global economic cataclysm to harm the president’s reelection, a senior Biden adviser tells me, but also that many non-MAGA Republicans ultimately could be induced not to go that far.

There’s no guarantee it’ll work. There’s no way to prevent some of the damage that Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and James Comer intend to do.

But there’s always the threat that if ten Republicans decide they’ve had enough of this chaos, it creates the opportunity for a Fred Upton or similar to come in to lead a House that will function as a legislative body again.

If Trump weren’t indicted until September or October — still a realistic timeline for January 6, particularly if interim charges must occur first — Trump might have had an opportunity to seal the GOP primary and force the GOP to defend whatever crimes he gets charged with, to own and normalize those crimes as their own, as the GOP has chosen to do for the past six years.

But at the moment, there are hints of a mood change, one in which at least a critical handful of Republicans will choose against the chaos they’ve been gripped by for six years.

Update: Added the Hutchinson tweet. h/t.

75 replies
  1. Zinsky123 says:

    Brilliant piece. I also believe the other 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls see blood in the water and are getting into the race now, so that when Trump’s candidacy becomes untenable, they already have a jump on the race. The DOJ couldn’t possibly allow a candidate, particularly an ex-president, to run a political campaign from a jail cell, could they? Again, thanks for the incisive political commentary on top of world-class legal and intelligence information analysis!

    • DrFunguy says:

      A candidate can’t run from a jail cell?
      Putting aside the unlikelihood of a conviction before the next presidential election, read up on Eugene Debs who got around a million votes while in jail.

    • Operandi says:

      The DoJ doesn’t get to decide that, and they probably shouldn’t have that power. If President “lock her up” Trump had actually followed through on jailing one of his political opponents, would you want his DoJ saying they couldn’t run against him?

      • Ravenclaw says:

        The DoJ doesn’t “decide” that; it would be up to the political party in question – a non-governmental body, basically a social club with an agenda.

        By the way. Do you really mean to suggest that being convicted of a serious crime (one you really committed) after a serious investigation by an independent, legitimate DoJ is equivalent to having been “locked up” on a pretext by an autocratic despot? Forgive my saying so, but that has a somewhat trollish smell.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          (Which, I hasten to add, was probably not your intent. Sorry I missed the editing window.)

  2. JonathanW says:

    I know that there are lots of people out there (many of whom I respect) who would prefer to have Trump as the GOP nominee in 2024 because “it may be easier for Biden to win”, but I’m not of that mindset. I fear too much what could happen should he actually win the general election (which is entirely possible if he’s the nominee). So, with that in mind, I’m very interested in your thinking, Dr Wheeler, that having this out in the open earlier will help turn things against Trump during the primary. I hope that’s true, as I’ve also always wanted Trump to lose (again) at the ballot box AND be held accountable in a court of law assuming that there is sufficient evidence to convict him.

    I do fear that your point of “there’s no guarantee it’ll work” may be accurate. I can’t personally fully game out what kind of argument would cause the big bulk of the base that loves him to flip, and it’s not clear to me that anyone can win without that. However, looking at some of the right wing press today, it does seem that the “we loved him, but he’s too much of a general election liability” argument seems to be gaining steam within that bubble, so that could be a good sign (for those of us who don’t want him to win the primary). At least the story is actually getting coverage there.

    • jdalessandro says:

      And one other — admittedly small – possibility is a GOP nomination of a DeSantis or someone other than Trump, but with Trump refusing to admit defeat and running third party [the last part is actually not all that improbable]. Biden would probably waltz in if such were to occur, so the third party blackmail threat must obviously be a real concern to the GOP. Or maybe it would be like 1948. A Trump third party run might make more third party launches — RFK Jr, for example – more palatable to millions in our fractured electorate.

  3. Waban1966 says:

    Totally makes sense. Let me float an alternative:

    Other than Pence and Christie (both really unacceptable to MAGA), my hypothesis is that everyone else serious is actually running to be the VP nominee. Saying Trump should withdraw in the face of “the witch-hunt” destroys that chance. So arguably the higher percentage play is to actively defend Trump when the documents case indictment is handed up. Compared to a (much) lower chance of Trump withdrawing. There is enough for MAGA to hold on to in their bubble (falsely) to likely stave off a withdrawal. Even Pence, after being threatened on Jan 6, has now said Trump should not be indicted no matter what.

    Plus there also has to be a significant chance that SCOTUS would put the cases against Trump on hold. Forget whether there is a “technically viable” precedent for that, substantively or procedurally. We know SCOTUS doesn’t care about that – they can purport to limit the rule to major presidential candidates (like in Bush v Gore). And there is always mandamus anyway (yes I know “no alternative remedy” is a technical prong of that).

    What if all this leaves the better-percentage play for R primary candidates, actually running for VP, to defend Trump on the charges? Or at least say “no jury has tuned yet,” “no prosecution for the sake of avoiding dividends,” and “it should at least be out on hold during the campaign.”

    Finally, all these candidates also have the higher percentage play that defending Trump now keeps them as viable 2028 candidates for the R nomination, if Trump loses. He wouldn’t run again then. Why throw away a VP chance (and therefore the leading contender if Trump wins) and a 2028 contender chance (if Trump loses) in exchange for the small chance that this thing swings against Trump fast enough in 2024?

    • bmaz says:

      SCOTUS is not going to stay a criminal case a year and a half before any election. That’s very hard to see.

      • rattlemullet says:

        I hope you are correct about SCOTUS not staying the case. Your expertise and and experience carries an immense amount of credibility. A quick question though, does it take just one justice to make any decision that would delay or impede this case in a lower court if charges are filed?

        • bmaz says:

          No. An initial emergency application for stay to SCOTUS would to the assigned justice for the circuit, who pretty much always refers it to the entire court for a fully staffed decision.

      • Shadowalker says:

        I don’t see any court placing a stay on any criminal case because of an election. The only pauses would be from the DOJ with its own 6 month rule.

    • Eichhörnchen says:

      That would be absurd. Admittedly, not in and of itself disqualifying.

      Since, in theory, most any American (and in practice, any wealthy American) can run for elected office, such a stay would go well beyond “slippery slope.” If restricted (a la Bush v. Gore), serious challenges would no doubt soon follow.

      Add to that that there is no such thing anymore as an “off-season” for campaigning, and you’d have the worst of humanity (at least on this country) perpetually exempt from prosecution.

      • Waban1966 says:

        You all are much more sanguine than I about a precedent -considering (past and future) SCOTUS. Courts uphold restrictions on campaign debate participants to “major parties.” (I understand that technically governs nonprofits but not criminal law). And by time-limiting (let’s say first primary, or even nominating convention). Finding a place to draw a line isn’t that hard.

        SCOTUS said Bush v Gore wasn’t precedential, and of course now it gets used a fair amount. I would hope SCOTUS would deny review. All I am saying is that a current lesser candidate in the primary for the Republican Party nomination has to weight risk and reward. The risk of alienating MAGA to somehow get a 2024 nomination versus the upside of supporting Trump in the face of indictment, based on the percentages that it doesn’t actually get to trial before the election, setting yourself up for VP or 2028.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, “courts” do not limit debate participants, the respective parties do, and appropriately so. So that is flat out false.

        • HikaakiH says:

          Courts upheld the parties’ right to make their own rules when minor candidates invited the courts to actually determine who got a space on stage.

      • ExRacerX says:

        “such a stay would go well beyond “slippery slope.””

        Not sure I’m getting your point — “slippery slope” is a basic logical fallacy, so in what way would the stay go “beyond” that fallacy?

          • bmaz says:

            Hi there. You do not get to determine the people need “to move along” and do not think you are.

            • Eichhörnchen says:

              Not trying to be a self-appointed moderator. Racer can poke me all they want, to the extent the site’s moderators allow OT tangents. Just a friendly warning that I won’t engage with them.

              • ExRacerX says:

                It was a legitimate request for clarification that still stands—but please feel free to ignore it.

    • Shadowalker says:

      Bush v. Gore stay happened after the election and it was a civil action that didn’t involve the criminal code.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Yeah, a far cry from saying “you can’t prosecute this guy for sedition and espionage when he wants to be president.”

        • HikaakiH says:

          Yes, the fact that the expected criminal cases bear directly on Trump’s fitness for office rather than being some equivalent of a minor traffic infraction is a strong reason for them to proceed uninterrupted. Even DoJ’s 6 month rule is institutional practice not law and Trump’s unique circumstance is as good a reason as there ever will be to proceed.

            • Shadowalker says:

              Even if they did have a rule, I don’t think it would even apply post indictment. I only mentioned that because of the Clinton investigation (or rather, in my opinion, political assassination).

  4. Yogarhythms says:

    “His response to the public report he’ll soon be indicted was to attempt to do the same thing: make his own legal woes those of the entire GOP.”by Ew. Trump is the best example of administration lawlessness since Oliver North during Iran/Contra even eclipsing W’s administration. Consolidation of GOP behind their orange savior again after DOJ indictment presents a familiar scenario open and notorious flouting of laws and norms by Trump. 2023 E Jean vs Trump win provides hope combined with over 300, Trump incited J6 DOJ convictions a titanic like moment is upon us. Thank you Ew for all you do.

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    War is a fantasy playtime for boys and girls until actual casualties begin. At that point war loses its fascination.

  6. Fran of the North says:

    Trump is a master of attacking and destroying individuals who break from the pack to oppose him. He identifies the weaknesses, real or perceived and amplifies them through his communications, which gets picked up and amplified by the MAGAsphere and MSM. The sheer volume and repetition beat the opponent into submission.

    His successful track record has been able to keep potential dissenters in line. Nobody wants to be the lone target.

    The open question is what happens when the criticisms/rejections come from many points. If a swell of voices begins to oppose him, can he create enough spin on multiple topics and personalities to be successful? Unfortunately, he is the equivalent of a car crash on the highway and everybody wants to rubberneck.

    No matter how it proceeds, the MSM will have a field day and may help him in his quest to get the GOP to defend him yet again.

  7. wasD4v1d says:

    “on his failing social media site”.

    Please stop. It is not failing. It is doing exactly what it is designed to do – and journalists quote it and sometimes publish screenshots (ahem). That’s the plan. He has a monopoly… and a salivating audience eating everything he serves up. It is not a social media site, it’s an amplifier with only one microphone.

    That is not ‘failing’. In a rare accomplishment for Trump, it’s a total success.

    • Steve_R_ says:

      You might want to ask Devin Nunes if he agrees with your perspective. I’m guessing Devin, along with the big boss, was chasing wealth more than a platform.

      • wasD4v1d says:

        Devin Nunes… another dupe. nothing he ever thought or did materially meant anything to Trump. This is true of anyone in his employ, even of his own children.

        The others may have thought of its pretense as the intent. But this is about one thing – a big speaker hooked up to a big amplifier with but one microphone.

    • Clare Kelly says:

      While I understand your point, there is no question that his social media platform is “failing” from a financial standpoint:

      “Trump’s Truth Social Faces More Trouble As SPAC Partner Admits Financial Statements Are Unreliable

      Digital World Acquisition also has not filed an earnings report for the first quarter of 2023, which is required for all companies listed on Nasdaq.

      The company has until July 24 to submit a plan or be delisted from the stock exchange—the SEC can then accept or deny the company’s plan, and if it rejects it, Digital World can appeal.

      If the merger with Digital World doesn’t go through, Trump will likely need to find a new source of income to fund his Twitter competitor, Truth Social. While Trump Media & Technology Group is estimated to be worth between $5 and $25 million, the former president made less than $200 in income from the firm, Trump reported to the Federal Election Committee in April.”

      Katherine Hamilton
      May 25, 2023

      Retrieved June 8, 2023

      Marcy’s edited “screenshot” aptly illustrated #45’s continuous effort “to consolidate the party” (part of her lede) and “demand that the insurrectionists in Congress do something” and to “make his own legal woes those of the entire GOP.”

      While there may be truth to:
      “It’s an amplifier with only one microphone” (wasD4v1d)

      …he already has that via direct text/calls to the increasingly isolated Insurrectionist Protection Caucus.

      He also reached:
      “at least a critical handful of Republicans” who may need a nudge to fully recognize they have options to “choose against the chaos they’ve been gripped by for six years.” (MW).

      I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that avid readers of ew will not be radicalized by an edited screenshot from his social media site.

      Context is key.

      • wasD4v1d says:

        I’m not sure ‘a financial standpoint’ is a yardstick of success for any of his endeavors, only that it facilitates his rackets. Truth Social is a total success based because of its perfect performance at doing the only thing it was designed to do. Make Trump the loudest voice in the room, the only one. Bonus – he’s free of the twitter me Elmo circus. Ask DeSantis about that one.

        • Operandi says:

          I am confused by your use of the term “racket”. I understand it to mean “a scheme for obtaining money”. In which case, being a financial failure is bad for one’s rackets.

          Maybe you don’t understand Truth Social was supposed to be a racket in and of itself? Get a bunch of rubes to invest in a SPAC with the bullshit promise that “Trump is going to take the MSM head on”. Except they biffed the paperwork so badly that they’re never going to see a penny of the big pot of money ($1.3b at one point) that was raised and is basically just sitting there.

          Trump using the site as his ersatz Twitter account is him salvaging some rubble from the wreckage. It was not the original purpose. As a billion dollar grift vehicle, the site has failed utterly.

    • BobBobCon says:

      It is absolutely not doing what he wanted. This isn’t 2016. He needs to win. It’s no longer about just profit and ego, it’s about what happens for the dwindling remainder of his life.

      Think of it like Apprentice ratings by the end. He pleaded with NBC that he still had a loyal audience, but the execs looked at how they were losing the timeslot and how easy it would be to replace him, and they did.

      Now Trump’s network is costing him a lot in terms of time and energy, and the payoff is not close to getting him over the finish line.

      And this time the personal cost for him is a lot worse than losing a TV show.

      Just like his horrible user numbers for his network, people are rightly focusing on how his CNN town hall ratings were anemic compared to 2016 ratings. But even more ominous for him are the followup Fox town hall ratings, which were also weak.

      His ratings are bad all over, and without those numbers he can’t keep people in the party with their own ambitions and interests in line. And without that kind of unity, his odds of winning get even worse.

      Again, this isn’t 2016, where even losing by a lot to Clinton would have been a win for him and his businesses. He needs to win this time, and all of the time and effort he’s spending on this network for so little to show for it is only making things worse for him, not better.

    • Hug h roonman says:

      Since Trump was reinstated on Twitter, even without truth social he’d have an equivalent mindless megaphone. Due to likely financial commitments to truth social outside investors, he’s effectively stuck on his own money losing platform.
      The communication volume didn’t change but his Net Worth certainly did.

    • bidrec-gap says:

      The New York Post is estimated to lose about 100 million dollars a year.

      It is bully pulpit for Rupert Murdoch to endorse or withhold political endorsements.

  8. Troutwaxer says:

    “Trump” and “indictment” are the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of the English language. I don’t think anyone really expected them, but they go together very well indeed! I’m looking forward to hearing that the worst danger to our country I’ve seen in my lifetime has died in jail.

  9. RitaRita says:

    So far, Christie and Hutchinson have been frank about Trump’s actions having disqualified him.

    Pence is trying to walk the tightrope – endorsing Trump’s “policies”, while disagreeing with him on January 6th but suggesting that any criminal action against Trump would be divisive, which may be his way of signaling that he would be Trump’s Gerald Ford.

    Is Lindsey Graham the bellwether? He may not be a candidate but he is both a Trump supporter and national security defender. A fulsome speaking indictment may make it hard for Graham to support Trump over country. In any event, such an indictment will force many Republicans to twist into pretzels.

    • FL Resister says:

      Suggesting that the (insipid sanctimonious) former VP posits that Trump will be found guilty of something, so vote Mike Pence for president because he will pardon Trump is an obtuse angle I had not previously considered and gets put into the swelling ‘how low you can go’ category of Republican politics.

  10. William Bennett says:

    > Biden’s success at giving Kevin McCarthy a way out of the hostage situation he was forced to create just before the US credit rating was affected is having a remarkable effect on the House GOP insurrectionists in Congress, who briefly considered trying to replace McCarthy, seem to have realized they don’t have the votes, and so have been trying to do something — anything — to look like they are tough. But it has only made them, and Republicans, look more ridiculous.

    Being a rationalist (mostly) kinda guy, I tend–like most lefties–to overestimate the importance of evidence and rational argumentation and thus miss one of the most vital aspects of how emotion and perception affect political outcomes. So I have to work at keeping this principle in mind:

    The perception of power IS power.

    And man did these MAGAradical bozos screw that up.

    I mean, the initial move was great. They used their power as a small but zealous faction to ensure McCarthy couldn’t get his Speakership except by their sufferance, and forced all kinds of terms and conditions they could enforce by suspending a Damocles sword over his head in the form of the motion to vacate. From a bunch of fringe nut jobs, they moved to being the Power Behind the Curtains. Bow before them!

    And then they utterly and completely blew it. The first big test of their power was like something out of the Darwin awards. The debt limit looked like a great big weapon to them and they grabbed ahold of it, not realizing that what they needed was an AR, not a fucking hydrogen-cobalt Doomsday Device. Geez did they feel important! Not for a minute seeing that they’d painted themselves into a corner by leaving themselves only the option of blowing up the world economy if they didn’t get their way. Plan B, what’s that? All Biden had to do was see the trap they’d laid for themselves and give the marginally sane among their caucus an off ramp. They’d basically handed him a huge incentive he could offer to McCarthy. Which would you rather have, a global catastrophe that would ruin the US and devastate the worldwide economic system for decades that everyone would blame on your party, or a deal that would afford you a couple of face-saving sops you can cling to and, oh by the way, pull the teeth of that group of nitwits who put you in this bind to begin with.

    Cuz what’s that Vacate threat mean now? Pretty much bupkis, when it has already failed so pathetically right out there in public. Even McCarthy, who’s kind of a legendary dim bulb, had the political instincts to know who really held the power hand in this setup.

    The delicious schadenfreude I feel watching this play out is only attenuated by the fact that I’m afraid Gaetz, MTG et al. are also too obtuse to recognize what just happened to them. Beau of the 5th Column has a theory that these people have fallen into the error of mistaking their social media-engagement stats for real power. I’d say this is pretty good evidence for it.

    • Ben Soares says:

      This is brilliant .

      “Beau of the 5th Column has a theory that these people have fallen into the error of mistaking their social media-engagement stats for real power. I’d say this is pretty good evidence for it..”

      I’ve recently started playing around on Twitter.
      It’s interesting – like a digital high school of sort’s. It’s where I found Empty Wheel. I think her business model is the future. Its like the Wild West out there for folks who have the skill’s to back up their percpectives. Somehow they seem drawn together even folks with different views – challenge each other.

      This is problematic for the Rupert Murdoch’s of the World…
      So they send a strawman to grab Twitter – Burn it down.
      Even the PGA is gamed – emasculation is ugly.

      Trimpian -Twitter is the playground for now..
      I hope professionals like Dr. Wheeler pick up and hold on to the Gold. The country needs it .

      I read folks are mining electrical currency these days…. Empty Wheel types….are mining legacy. Capitalism is good for skilled students. The Bannon and Trimpian mediocrity bull shiat only floats for so long. So now they cry-deep state. Because they got thrown out…Musk will take his ball home too…Saudi Arabia will keep the court and some of the courses. Imho

  11. Doctor My Eyes says:

    Well said. About the notion, intentionally repeated by Fox News types, that when they’re coming after Trump, they’re really coming after YOU!!! “If they can do this to a former president, imagine what they can do to you!!! [if you steal a bunch of top secret documents from the WH]”. To me, this is a specific example of the general trend by corporations and the uber-wealthy of protecting themselves from democracy by convincing enough of the electorate that their interests are more allied with those of the super-rich than with those who want functional government for the good of all. This gaslighting convinces the unwashed electorate being screwed six ways from Sunday that their poverty is being caused by blood-drinking liberals, child-grooming gays, and big gubmint regulation. It’s their solution to the problem defined by the Plutocracy Memo, which clearly defined the one issue preventing the wealthy from relaxing comfortably in their gated communities–one person/one vote. This project has been on-going for at least two decades, and in my mind, has been wildly successful. The Trump example is particularly grotesque, but it’s nothing new. Incidentally, Christie directly attacked this claim by Trump in his “town hall” infomercial.

    If find these numbers to be a tad discouraging: “Do you think Donald Trump should face any criminal charges for his handling of classified documents?” US adult citizens answer: 49% yes, 35% no, 16% undecided. I’ve seen this portrayed as a good sign. Fortunately, these kinds of numbers can quickly shift.

  12. Operandi says:

    I think you’re right that a lot of the party higher-ups are wild-eyed casting around for a possible exit, knowing where this is all heading. And the House contingent of that set would love nothing more than to push the Freedom Caucus in front of a bus.

    What I’m not so sure is whether the MAGA primary electorate are as eager to depart the Trump Train just cause a few indictments came down the pike. They’re after all the real bayonet held at House Member’s backs. If J6 didn’t lose them (and we all saw what they did to Liz Cheney over that), I don’t think a document retention indictment will be the thing that drives MAGA voters away in significant enough droves.

    Maybe the entire rest of the GOP turning on him will break the spell, but I’m not sure they have the guts or coordination to attempt that kind of mutiny.

  13. hebmskebm says:

    The problem ultimately is that the rank & file GOP voter, which includes DeSantis supporters as well as Trump supporters, do not view anything DJT has done as beyond the pale. Even for those who’d prefer somebody else, he being their standard bearer on the ballot is simply *not* a dealbreaker. They’re fine with him. And in fact coming out too strongly in condemnation of his lawless actions is the kiss of death in a race-to-the-bottom primary. It’s committing the ultimate sin in Republican eyes: giving the beliefs of your perceived enemies legitimacy.

  14. bmaz says:

    For those freaking out and worried about some putative “six month rule” for investigating or charging a defendant in the surrounding circumstances of an election, there simply is no such rule. That is an old wives tale. The three (now four) DOJ memos on the subject all use the same operative language:

    Those three memoranda all state that Justice Department employees “may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.” They also encourage prosecutors to contact the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division for further guidance regarding “the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election.”

    Note that there is no set timeframe specified. None whatsoever. Not 30 days, not sixty days and certainly nor 180 days. It just isn’t there. And when appropriate, the Public Integrity Section (PIN) can authorize the investigation and charges at any point. So don’t worry about an y of that, it is entirely up to Smith and Garland.

    “When does the policy kick in—that is, what constitutes an act “near the time” of an election? Does that mean 60 days before an election? 90 days? After Labor Day (as one of us believed when he was a federal prosecutor)? The exclusion period is not specified, nor would that be a simple thing to do.”

    The foregoing is from an excellent piece at Lawfare from Chuck Rosenberg.

    • The Old Redneck says:

      Not to mention it would be absurd to observe these “rules” if it means declining to indict someone who literally may be guilty of espionage.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Quite reassuring. Given the current situation, the entire notion of postponing a criminal case because of Trump’s candidacy feels nonsensical just on its face. In addition to the lack of a specified time limit, there is this language:

      for the purpose of affecting any election

      Motivation matters. Obviously, if charges are brought they will be the result of an exhaustive investigation spanning two years, not a sudden desire to affect the outcome of an election. Trump announced his candidacy well after this case was underway, so it cannot be reasonably claimed that the purpose of the charges is to affect the election.

      And even so, could it not be argued that the DOJ has an over-riding duty to the constitutional order to prevent a seditionist from seizing the WH. Surely a pledge to protect against enemies foreign and domestic would over-ride the injunction against bringing charges to affect an election. In this case, in my view, there is an absolute, over-riding duty to bring charges, in part to affect an election, memos be damned.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. But the memos, even the fourth one by Barr, still have the same operative language. I think people, egged on by Trumpies, are giving far too much credence to the “you can’t indict him anymore!” argument. It is not really an issue.

  15. MT Reedør says:

    Trump is likely to be hobbled. Dee Santis is likely to be the nominee, with a pseudo-moderate as the VP nominee. This is horse race or threat assessment thinking. But we just don’t know.

  16. Steve Duncan says:

    Unless Trump drops dead or drops out the nomination is his. Nothing he or anyone else does will change that. He could literally be sitting in jail convicted of multiple felonies and his nomination would still be assured. And the electorate is insane. Riven and disturbed and captured by a dozen malevolent forces. It’ll only take 42%>45% of the popular vote, strategically (and luckily) distributed for Trump to win. Those naysaying his prospects are whistling past the graveyard.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Correct. Some of Trump’s supporters have died. A small % of Republican voters will sit out the Presidential Election in 2024. I think Raffensberger in Georgia explained how voters fall away from the Trump line. Many of things that Trump used as his tag lines far in the past now. Its been 7 years since Barrack Obama was President. Trump, if he is the nominee, would be running against another old white guy. I doubt Trump would get the same % as in 2020.

    • joel fisher says:

      He’s not going to be sitting in jail anytime soon. But the pros over in the GOP–some of them anyway–might push a primary season rule saying accused felons are ineligible to get delegates. I don’t know how many state GOPs are staffed up with confirmed Trumpsters, but we are going to find out when, in order to debate, you have to pledge to abide by the outcome. We all know the only outcome Trump will abide by which may lead to a 3way race in Nov 2024.

      • Steve duncan says:

        Trump and his supporters will make life a living hell for anyone taking steps to deny him the nomination. Elected officials doing so will be primaried out of their jobs. Party functionaries will similarly be sacked by state bodies, pushed to purge them by radical MAGA diehards. People will think twice when their very lives, and those of their loved ones, are threatened, along with their jobs. Physical and psychological violence will be visited upon those crossing Trump, and those considering defying him know it.

        • Badger Robert says:

          But many of them have lives that are not dependent on politics. They will drop out.

      • timbozone says:

        It really depends on what it turns out he did with the nation’s secrets. If some of these secrets, evidence that he was the source after he left office on Jan 21, 2021 have made it to foreign shores then there may be a call to jail Trump; it really depends on how badly USG secrets have been handled/misused by the Trump faction post-Jan 21, 2021.

  17. Skillethead says:

    News outlets reporting that Trump has been indicted. Might want to check news sites.

  18. Shadowalker says:

    ABC News has just announced that Trump and his attorneys were informed of multiple felony count indictment with arraignment next Tuesday. Trump has acknowledged.

    For me caveat applies, waiting on unsealing.

  19. Jan_22OCT2020_2257h says:

    Happened to be listening to The Pogues, Dirty Old Town when it came across the wire.
    Seems appropriate somehow.

    [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. Because your username “Jan” is far too short and too common, it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  20. JanAnderson says:

    Will do Rayne, thanks for the heads-up.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  21. JanAnderson says:

    I thought it would be announced (by US DOJ) tomorrow, a Friday. Trump of course took a pre-emptive move. Which changes nothing but his obsession to be the ‘man who knows all’, more than the pitiful media, more than the Generals, and blah blah blah he’s a God.
    What an insufferable douche.

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