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Trump Stands in the Middle of Fifth Avenue and Shoots the Constitution

From The Bulwark, by Dennis Aftergut:

On Saturday, Donald Trump did not merely bet the farm on being elected president in 2024. He bet Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, the golf links at Aberdeen, and the private jet, too. In a single social media post, he put his ability to defend against an indictment in even greater jeopardy than it already was.

On Truth Social, he called for the overthrow of the American government—specifically, “for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” in order to “declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER” from 2020 or “have a NEW ELECTION”:

Trump writing that we should cancel the Constitution ranks right up alongside John Tyler’s support of the Confederacy as among the most shameful acts of a former president in our nation’s history.

Trump was not just saying the quiet part of his entire political career out loud. He was screaming it straight into our eardrums.

His disordered mind can only be thinking one thing: By racing far past the edge of the known political universe, he wins the gold medal in the extremism that the MAGA base craves. No rival can compete. He figures that’s how to guarantee his nomination and eventually the presidency, with its immunity from indictment.

Out of his gourd with fear of federal prosecution, Trump does something that helps ensure its success.

Think about four key crimes with which prosecutors could charge Trump for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election and in fomenting the violent January 6th siege of the Capitol.

First, seditious conspiracy, the subject of the Justice Department’s landmark conviction of two Oath Keepers last week. A prosecutor can prove the crime by showing an agreement between two people “to overthrow . . . by force the Government of the United States.”

Suppose you’re Special Counsel Jack Smith. If your target openly calls for the termination of the instrument that establishes the federal government, you’re a good way closer to proving his readiness to overthrow it than you were the day before he made his statement.

As part of the charge, suppose prosecutors are trying to show that a core component of Trump’s sedition was to stop one of the defining political traditions of our republic—the peaceful transition of presidential power. Then one day, Trump says, We need the Constitution terminated so we can undo the transition that happened. That would bring prosecutors so close to home they could smell bread baking in the oven.

Second, take the crime of insurrection. Under federal law, it is punishable by a fine, up to ten years in prison, and permanent disqualification from “any office under the United States.” While the law does not clearly define insurrection, a historically informed and common-sense interpretation of the term would suggest that prosecutors would have to prove that the target intended an “act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” For that, there’s not much better evidence than him calling for abolishing the document on which the established government’s authority rests.

Third, should Smith aim to charge Trump with obstructing an official proceeding—the joint session of Congress on January 6th to certify President Biden’s election—prosecutors would need to show that Trump did not want that certification to occur. His post stating that it never should have happened and should still, two years later, be overturned seems like it would be of some use.

Fourth, there’s the potential charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. It is proven by an agreement aimed at interfering with the government’s lawful functions; in this case, the function of certifying the election. Again, it sure helps to prove that aim if your target is outspoken about his continuing desire to have the certification nullified.

Safe to say that Trump’s criminal lawyers will be doubling down on the Xanax after Saturday’s social media post. He just did enough damage to his defense that one might even infer that he doesn’t believe it’s likely to work—that, to the extent he’s thinking this through at all, he thinks something like Why not take extreme measures to regain the protection of the presidency? Even if I hand my jailers another padlock, I can cut it when I’m back in the Oval Office.

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Are You Forgetting the Little Matter of Jan. 6?

From The Hill:

Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) on Sunday declined to denounce former President Trump for  suggesting the termination of the Constitution’s election provisions over unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud in 2020.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed Joyce on Trump’s Truth Social post on Saturday calling for the “termination of all rules,” including those in the Constitution, following the 2020 presidential election.

When pressed by Stephanopoulos on supporting Trump after he called for suspending the Constitution, Joyce argued he could because the former president would have no ability to do so.

“He says a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ever going to happen,” Joyce responded.

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Tweet of the Day

Lindy Li @lindyli

Nick Fuentes did not even have to show his ID to enter Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving dinner.

Their driver got in with just a credit card.

So it’s harder to vote in 35 states—where you have to show ID—than it is to infiltrate the place where our stolen nuclear secrets were kept.

4

Yes, He Will Burn It All Down

If Donald Trump can’t dominate the party, then he will seek to destroy it.

From The Bulwark, by A.B. Stoddard:

At his tired Vegas lounge act of a campaign announcement on November 15, Trump read from the prompter and it was so boring people tried to leave early. He was being disciplined and didn’t even mention the Big Lie—but he still included his essential ingredient, the persecution complex. “I’m a victim. I will tell you, I’m a victim,” he said. And this is what binds his most fervent supporters and remains his most potent weapon. Because his base knows that Trump is not just a victim of the Department of Justice, or a district attorney in Georgia, or the attorney general of New York—he is a victim of the RINOs complaining about his role in the midterms and coordinating to puff up DeSantis just because they can’t bring themselves to admit that overturning Roe had electoral consequences.

Trump has, at worst, about an even-money chance to win the Republican nomination. Before the midterms, Vanity Fair reported DeSantis was willing to wait for 2028 so he wouldn’t have to take on Trump. That was before he ran up the score in his re-election contest. But beating Charlie Crist in an increasingly red state while successfully ignoring Trump isn’t the same thing as beating Trump for the nomination. Just as releasing a campaign video claiming “God made a fighter” isn’t the same as actually fighting Trump, either.

And look at the rest of the Republican field: What’s their argument? None of them are running against Trump’s lawlessness or tyrannical instincts and they aren’t likely to distinguish themselves from each other on policy. What they think they can do is position themselves as polished Trumpists—savvier, more sophisticated culture warriors willing to dabble in illiberalism or authoritarian socialism, like using the state to attack the private sector. If the candidates nominated in 2020 and 2022 were more Trumpy, not less, the 2024 Republican contenders will likely run as Trump-lite, not as alternatives. If they do, then Trump has the best shot to win.


And Republicans have another handicap in their attempt to unseat Trump: They have to worry that if Trump falls behind in the primary polls and another clear leader emerges, he will leave and trash everyone. He won’t wait to lose the nomination, since he cannot permit an actual defeat. He will eject himself in advance and campaign against the party.

Chaos always wins. Trump can just grab Kari Lake or Marjorie Taylor Greene or whoever the MAGA Girl Wonder is that month and go nuts. He can pretend to start some candidacy somewhere, raise money, and sabotage the GOP nominee. And some portion of his voters will believe he has been cheated again, sold out by RINOs, and that voting Republican would be no different than voting for a woke socialist.

Trump has prepared perfectly for this final conflagration, because his supporters know fraud follows him everywhere. When Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses it was rigged. When Hillary Clinton won the popular vote it was rigged. 2020—obviously rigged. And so the 2024 contest is his to be had—or it’s rigged, too.

Most importantly, this campaign is a shield for Trump. He trusts his supporters will believe that any criminal charges he faces will be fake witch-hunts. He expects to raise a lot of money off of the outrage, and he also expects these developments to flummox his Republican opponents and adversaries.

Because if there is a reckoning and Trump faces justice, are his Republican opponents going to defend the Biden Justice Department or Fani Willis, and tell Republican primary voters that the charges are credible and Trump’s conduct was criminal? Will they tell the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to chill out and stop threatening the lives of law enforcement and prosecutors and judges and their families?

How could they? These same people spent the last five years defending Trump from “witch hunts” and “fake news” and all the rest. They helped prime Republican voters to believe this stuff.

Trump understands that anyone who dares to get into the race with him will have to agree that yes, it’s all a political persecution and Trump is innocent and that the best way to own the libs is to vote for him again. He’s the best middle finger available. They will have to say this because if they don’t, then they will either lose the primary or lose some sizable percentage of Republican voters.

Trump rode to power by fighting the Republican establishment because he understood that it was weak. He realized that whatever Republican elites might say, they’ll always come to heel. Grab ’em by the insurrection. You can do whatever you want.

Does the Republican establishment seem more powerful today than it was in 2015? And if, for some reason, Republican elites do hold out this time and line up against him, is there any reason to think that Trump will not torch them all on the way out the door?

When Republican elites say they want to move on from Trump because he hurts their party’s electoral chances, they’re telegraphing their own vulnerability. They’re admitting that they care more about winning Republican seats than anything else. Donald Trump does not care if the GOP ever wins again. And this gives him leverage over them.

If Republicans don’t understand this already, they soon will.

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Tweet of the Day

Piper for Missouri @piper4missouri

I have never been groomed by anyone from the LGBTQ community, but I can’t say the same for the churches I attended. I was taught to be meek and submissive to men. That my body caused men to sin. That a woman was responsible for the fall of man. That women were meant to be led.