The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Republicans May Not Think Bad Thoughts About Trump

Responding to the indictment, Republicans are taking the position that no part of the criminal justice system can legitimately involve itself in anything Trump does, no matter what. Yes, they are in effect saying he’s above the law. And then they turn around and say that any legal action against Trump must be crushed and not allowed to go forward, in order to protect the “rule of law.” Seriously, I’ve seen them say that today.

Bill Barr, who is weirdly unable to learn from experience, has already rendered his astute legal judgment on the indictment even though he can’t possible know what’s in it.

‘The legal theory is pathetically weak. The case is held together by chicken wire and paper clips and rubber bands. It’s a lousy case. And it’s a shameful episode in our history where this local prosecutor is trying to effect the political process by bringing this case,’ Barr railed.

Barr is long past the point of caring about his reputation as an expert on law, I take it. He’s still just a shill for Trump. And Lindsey Graham practically melted down in hysteria on Fox News after the indictment. I have yet to see a single Republican of any stature step forward to say “Let’s let this process play out.” If it’s such a weak case, why are they so hysterical about it?

Paul Waldman:

To be clear, the indictment itself might prove to be a weak case. Trump might be charged with falsifying business records, but to make that a felony, that falsification would have to conceal another crime. To fit that bill, prosecutors might try to classify the hush money payment as an improper campaign finance violation.

Some legal experts worry this constitutes a novel, untested legal theory. If the charges are weak, it might be reasonable to question the wisdom of the decision to bring them. On the other hand, there are reportedly more than 30 counts against Trump, so there may be grave charges we don’t know about.

Either way, these GOP responses do not leave discernible room for the possibility that the charges may prove far more damning than Republicans expect. It’s hard to see Republicans ever retreating to an acknowledgment that the process should run its course, enabling the truth to prevail.

By now it should be obvious even to Lindsey Graham — who is not stupid — that Trump is a terrible liability to his party. You’d think the Republican establishment would be quietly happy about Trump’s legal perils. You’d think they’d be a tad more cautious in their responses to the indictment, perhaps saying supportive things about Trump without committing to any judgments about the indictment they haven’t read yet. But no. Their reaction reminds me of this old Twilight Zone episode I’m sure you remember if you ever saw it.

Except for the most resolute of the Never Trumpers, no one on the Right seems able even to contemplate the remote possibility that Trump might actually be guilty of something. Take Erick Erickson, for example,

There is the camp that says this is designed to bolster Donald Trump’s nomination so they can beat him. Some of you are probably in that camp. You think the Democrats calculate that by indicting Trump, they’ll help him in the GOP primary. They think they can beat him in the general, and this indictment might push him across the finish line as the GOP nominee.


But the camp I’m in is that Alvin Bragg represents a wing of the Democrat Party that is on the short bus of the party. He’s not very bright. I suspect the grand jurors are just rabid progressives, too, and they are all in the wing of “let’s put the SOB behind bars.” They hate him. They call him vulgarities instead of the President. They just want him in prison, and they’ll do anything to get him there.

First, “The Democrats” are not indicting Trump. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is not a branch of the Democratic National Committee. It may be that a Republican D.A. in a similar circumstance would be secretly working in tandem with GOP political operatives to bring indictments, or not, based on political calculations rather than facts. But I’d like to think the Democrats haven’t sunk to that level yet. And as far as Alvin Bragg’s intelligence is concerned, the guy graduated Harvard magna cum laude and got his J.D. from Harvard Law, where he was an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review. Erickson has a J.D. from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, which may be a fine school, but I can’t say I ever heard of it before.

I heartily recommend this New York Times article, How Alvin Bragg Resurrected the Case Against Donald Trump (no paywall). It explains why Bragg appeared to drop the Trump case a year ago and then took it up again. According to this article, Bragg never completely dropped the case.

The two leaders of the investigation had recently resigned after the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, decided not to charge Mr. Trump at that point. Amid a fierce backlash to his decision — and a brutal start to his tenure — Mr. Bragg insisted that the investigation was not over. But a disbelieving media questioned why, if the effort was still moving forward, there were few signs of it.

“Unless y’all are great poker players,” Mr. Bragg told The New York Times in an early April 2022 interview, “you don’t know what we’re doing.”

What they were doing, new interviews show, was going back to square one, poring over the reams of evidence that had already been collected by his predecessor.

The two lawyers who resigned were Mark F. Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, you might remember. Pomerantz is the one who wrote the book criticizing the Manhattan D.A. for not going forward with the case. The Times article says that other prosecutors were concerned that the case Dunne and Pomerantz were putting together had holes in it. So Bragg called a halt to it and began a review of the evidence.

The research laid the groundwork for a more robust investigation. The remaining members of the team split up into small groups to focus on different topics, including the financial statements and the eye-catching payoff that was the original impetus for Mr. Vance to open an investigation into Mr. Trump in 2018: the hush-money deal.

At that point Bragg put together a new team to work on the case. So it may be that Bragg has a stronger case now with evidence nobody knows about yet. We’ll see. Alvin Bragg’s background suggests he’s a smart guy who has worked too hard to throw away his career bringing a weak case against Donald Trump. We’ll know more after the arraignment.

In the meantime, do enjoy Colbert from Thursday night.


13 thoughts on “Republicans May Not Think Bad Thoughts About Trump

  1. "He's not very bright," writes Erick Erickson, referring to DA Bragg.


    Hey Erick – son of a man named Erick, who was himself named after many generations of unoriginal men named Erick – dinchya ever hear the old adage about people living in glass houses not throwing stones?

    And Erick, daaaahling, between us girls, I've read your insipid and overly Catholic musings. 

    You're about as bright as sandpaper yourself. 

    So do yourself a favor:  don't throw any stones.

    Keep 'em safely stored with the other rocks that fill your cranium..

    Bragg is a Democrat.

    So he's not at all likely to be as overly eager, stupid, and political, to "rush to judgement" as a RepubliKKKLAN.

    Obtuse dipshite…

    • That "short bus" bit is a deliberate distraction.  You are distracted into defending Bragg's intelligence vs. addressing something actually substantive.

  2. I saw one band of flaggats (my created word) on the Interstate back from Colorado today.  They looked disorganized and disheartened and no one was really paying attention.  Sometimes the lack of or absence of something achieves significance.  I guess fly over country is not responding.  You would expect more involvement on a day dedicated to fools.  This might be what this country needs.  Is this the beginning of the end of the IOKIYAR era?  Or is there a limit on how many times the 30% can be fooled? Or both? 

  3. The GOP helped create the mob that now worships at the altar of  Trump. I started to write a history of the GOP and how they created the Frankenstien monster that the GOP voting mob has become. It doesn't matter – what matters is that the mob has taken over. The "leadership" is in terror of Trumpian excommunication from the cult. 

    IMO, the "power" of Trump over the GOP is that Trump can destroy the GOP – not just individual members who think bad thoughts. If Trump runs as a 3rd party candidate, the GOP has no chance. Trump has bullied the GOP House leadership into a role that's (IMO) illegal and unconstitutional. They are meddling in NY State business, the elected DA prosecuting Trump. There's a state's rights violation. Second, the GOP seems to be threatening to interfere in the federal investigations – that's a federal separation of powers offense, or actually two. Congress can't interfere with the DOJ active investigation – it's in the executive brance. They can't meddle in the court case(s) (assuming they are filed) because that's exclusively judicial. 

    Yes, Congress has oversight powers into the DOJ and Judicial, but that does NOT extend into an active investigation or trial. I wonder if Bragg can file in federal court asking for a "Cease and Desist" order that would apply to Congress on an ongoing  trial in the state of NY. I think the courts will be alarmed by the intrusion of the House into the process and outcome of a trial in the courts. I can see the question going all the way to the USSC. 

    Yes, the House is in a panic mode. Nothing matters to the cultists – Criminal trials won't prevent Trump from taking the GOP nomination. (I see one scenario where that could fail.) However, outside the cult. facts, trials, evidence, testimony all count a lot. Trump LOST in the last election. That was before he called for an insurrection, which Trump seems to fully back. Trump lost in 2020 and IMO, he's less popular with voters now than he was then, Convictions leading up to the election will seal the results. (I think Trump will try to stage a coup after the 2024 election – that's why I watch for facts related to Trump links to Bannon, Stone, and Erik Prince.)  I do not think the coup attempt has a good chance but it's too important to ignore.

    The GOP has lost ground in elections in 2018, 2020, 2022 and I think will be a disaster for the GOP in 2024. The main reason is Trumpian politics. But the cult won't quit on the racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-science, anti-semetic, anti-Islamic, Neanderthal politics even if Trump is dead. I think the split between sane conservatism and Trumpism is inevitable. It will decimate the GOP for a decade after it happens. They know it and they are trying to stay ahead of the divorce, day by day. Backing Trump today is a disaster for the GOP but it buys them one more day they do not have to deal with the split.

  4. CNN had at the top of their website today, even if Stump if convicted on a felony he can still run for president. True or not they want to make sure that we are all still concerned! When it comes to Stump there are no honest brokers in the news business. Stump's greatest accomplishment is luring the American media into everything he wants them to say. It's the only thing he has ever done right and the only thing he needs to survive.

    • And – most importantly to him regardless of the reason, he continues to be the center of attention, as much now as ever.

  5. Doug,

    In the RepubliKKKLAN POV, it's state's rights when their Red states try/do something.

    And state's wrongs if Blue states try/do the same thing.

    Because of course, Blue state's can have no rights!


  6. The NY Times article was interesting. I noted what was left out as significant. The article has a lot of inside details that could have only come from Bragg's office, either a current or very recently departed member.  Suppose for now that the source is a current employee authorized to leak specific information. It's a guess, but not unreasonable. 

    The discussion of the evolution of the case mentions that the case Vance had been working on was related to a "case centered on Mr. Trump's net worth."  All the way through the article, the discussion of the old case is that vague. I have not read the book on the investigation but it was about criminal fraud relating to Trump inflating assets for loans and deflating (sometimes those same assets) for taxes and insurance. It's the criminal version of the civil case that will be brought this year, with a potential $250 million dollar civil penalty. 

    When word came out that one of the lawyers who quit when Bragg put the brakes on the old case was releasing a book, Bragg said that the investigation was still OPEN! The NY Times article minimized that case but never said it was closed. Bragg caught Trump off-guard by signalling the Grand Jury was not going to meet again until the end of April. (True) He did not say they were in the process of voting on different charges on Thursday, fooling everyone,  So Bragg can and will head-fake like a Harlem Globetrotter. 

    If the Grand Jury is meeting again late in April, for what are they meeting?

Comments are closed.