When people ask me what it was like to cover the Trump White House, I often describe what the days were like. Get up. Read what Trump tweeted overnight. See what the White House was rolling out for the day. Check the newsletters. Peruse the papers. Write a story. Then tear it up (metaphorically because I write on a laptop) when Trump does something that changes the news of the day and often sabotages the morning’s work.
Tuesday, Indictment Day, had all that.
For me, the day started with waiting for Trump to go to the courthouse. This gave me time to consider the 45th president’s reckless attitude, which brought him to the moment.
He paid off women to keep quiet about whatever — nothing good — went on between them.
He surrounded himself with grifters like Michael Cohen, his one-time fixer who now poses as a Trump truthteller, because that’s where the money is, as well as pornography peddler Stormy Daniels. A class act, she.
Trump thought he could get away with any bad behavior. In 2016, he famously bragged, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Yes, Trump’s poll numbers among Republican voters bumped up. It was downright Clintonesque — as this episode served to remind voters that they hate big media more than Trump.
Mid-afternoon New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg released the 34-count indictment — and I was struck with the former president’s unstinting good luck in his draw of adversaries.
Bragg wanted to get Trump in the worst way, and he did — a thin document that rebranded misdemeanors as felonies for moldy bookkeeping misdeeds that lawmen previously had decided lacked the heft and the outrage factor to haul a former U.S. president to court. Trump pleaded not guilty.
The document failed to name the crime that is supposed to elevate the misdemeanor charges to felony status. Having launched the first criminal case against a former president, Bragg can’t be bothered with assuring the public he is standing on solid ground.
In the 24-hour news cycle, you might expect the Left to dish out pro-Bragg talking points.
Instead, legal analysts of both stripes were underwhelmed by Bragg’s case. They were shaking their heads at CNN. Conservative Twitter was giddy.
Even super-scold Mitt Romney released a statement declaring Trump is “unfit for office” even as he bemoaned the “dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents” in the “prosecutor’s overreach.”
Bonus points for Trump: Bragg is a feckless DA who won’t throw the book at violent criminals but went into tough-on-crime overdrive for “falsifying business records in the first degree.”
Trump had won the day.
Then he held an evening press conference at Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s usual list of grievances and lies. For example, Trump claimed that in the 2020 election there were “millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes, and all caught on government cameras.” Yes, he reverted to the same behavior that put him in Bragg’s crosshairs.
I don’t want Trump to have to stand trial. I don’t want him to go to jail. I just want him to go away.
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at email@example.com.
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