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Democrats Play With Fire By Nominating Trump
Be careful what you wish for
Welcome to Thunderdome, where this week it’s yet another indictment for former president Donald Trump, this time over argle-bargle about the 2020 election which violated the laws of truth-telling that apparently only matter when Republicans do them. Let’s be clear: Donald Trump lied about 2020 — and he lied a lot. But Democrats lied about 2016, about 2004, about 2000, all at rates that were just as high but didn’t result in riotousness. The Department of Justice and the Joe Biden team at the White House seem confident that this is the path to go down to ensure re-election next fall. But we’ve seen this dangerous game played out before — and in 2016 it had shocking results. The bet comes down to this: does Joe Biden think that his tepid Bidenomics and his whispering senility will be non-factors when he’s put up against the loudest man in politics? Because that’s a pretty big bet.
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Who wants to represent this guy?
It seems like every time there’s a new indictment, we also get to meet a new lawyer on the Trump team — he goes through them so fast, they’re practically Starship Troopers sky marshals. This latest one is John Lauro, hired to take on Jack Smith and jumping around the airwaves making the public case for his client against not just Democrats, but people like former Attorney General Bill Barr. The WSJ has their Lauro profile today:
“This case with President Trump is going to be a tough one because the government has something like sixty lawyers and investigators all aligned,” Lauro said in an interview. “It is going to be a real courtroom battle, and we anticipate there may be over 100 witnesses called and the trial could last many, many months.”
The indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses Trump of a criminal scheme to stay in power after his November 2020 election defeat. The charges include conspiracy to defraud the US and conspiracy against the rights of voters. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison if convicted, but defendants rarely receive such sentences…
Before representing Trump, Lauro’s most newsworthy engagement was his defense of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who admitted to betting on games he officiated. Donaghy was sentenced to fifteen months in prison after pleading guilty to two federal charges.
Oof, that’s not a good precedent. But Donaghy, who was clearly guilty and had mountains of evidence marshaled against him, is widely viewed as having gotten a slap on the wrist for his crimes. So perhaps Lauro can plead down to keep the former president out of jail?
The overall perspective on this case, though, has to be a scare tactic against Republican lawyers all over the country. If you want a career in the legal profession, don’t go around representing Republicans, especially their politicians — a lesson designed to reward ambitious hacks and punish smart attorneys who will think twice about taking on GOP clients. So in the future, the RNC may end up with more Sidney Powells and fewer Bill Barrs if the Biden DoJ has their way… a bad result for fighting out close elections.
Mike Pence takes on Trump
It’s very possible that Mike Pence will only get one shot at being on the debate stage with Donald Trump: in the upcoming Milwaukee debate hosted by Fox News. His polling numbers have been sufficient, but if he makes the donor number, it’ll be by the skin of his teeth — and those qualifications are only going to increase the next time around. Michael Bachmann reports:
So far seven candidates have qualified for the first GOP debate to be held August 23 in Milwaukee — former president Donald Trump, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. Although he has reached 3 percent in national polls, former vice president Mike Pence still has not met the donor threshold.
This fact has made Pence more prickly than usual, and prompted what seems to be a telegraphing of his message if he makes the stage: namely, a more direct attack on his former boss. Speaking in reaction to the Jack Smith indictment, Pence blamed “a group of crackpot lawyers that kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear”:
Privately, Pence’s team knew January 6 would be a central theme of his candidacy. The Wi-Fi code at his campaign launch gave away their instinct: “KeptHisOath!” it read. His allied super PAC Committed to America led with an Iowa ad focusing on January 6 shortly after his campaign launched. “A president begging him to ignore the Constitution. A mob shouting for him to die. And an anxious nation watching for one man to do what’s right,” a narrator said in the ad.
The problem for Pence, just as it seems to be a problem for everyone else in this field, is that attacking Trump directly doesn’t seem to benefit you at all. Instead it’s candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy, who seem decidedly pro-Trump, who have been on the rise even as the more typical politicians sink.
For Pence, this is a decidedly sour ending — if it is the ending — of his political career, undone by being honest about January 6 and being disliked by all the NeverTrumpers who find him too pious, too much of a stick in the mud. But the animosity thrown at him by Trump backers seems hypocritical at best: he served their interests and served them well for four years, and just wouldn’t go along with what they wanted when what they wanted was clearly illegal and wrong. The shame seems to be on the part of the Pence-haters for revealing their insincerity, not on the man whose faith is too sincere.
Why dabble in 9/11 conspiracies?
It’s one of the defects of running an entirely online campaign that you end up talking to far more people about a far wider range of topics than you’re necessarily prepared for. That’s the best excuse I can come up with for this Vivek Ramaswamy interview with “conservative” humorist Alex Stein, an utterly fraudulent and unfunny fake conservative who is really just a 4chan thread equipped with the physical ability to breathe and talk.
A case in point was his response this week to a question about whether the 9/11 attack was an “inside job or exactly how the government tells us?” Mr. Ramaswamy should have run away from that one, if not right out the interview door. Instead he answered:
“I don’t believe the government has told us the truth. Again, I’m driven by evidence and data. What I’ve seen in the last several years is we have to be skeptical of what the government does tell us. I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary, but do I believe everything the government told us about it? Absolutely not. Do I believe the 9/11 commission? Absolutely not.”
Oh, man. What “evidence and data” is he talking about? An Alex Jones broadcast?
The mop up started soon thereafter. “Al-Qaeda clearly planned and executed the attacks, but we have never fully addressed who knew what in the Saudi government about it,” Mr. Ramaswamy tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. He was clearly caught off guard by the 9/11 question, which followed an inquiry about whether the moon landing was fake.
Ramaswamy is a darling of the set that views politics today as primarily performative, the act of being in office the equivalent of an elevated run-on sequence of punditry. His communication gifts have limits, though, when they interact with a world where you’re required to know what you’re talking about.
One more thing
Joe Biden’s decision to acknowledge his seventh grandchild in a Friday news dump on the way out the door to decamp to Delaware, where he will break 365 days on vacation, should serve as a reminder that the words of old media still matter, at least to this White House. The fact that it took a New York Times columnist to name and shame this behavior has cut deeply against the Biden reputation for empathy and kindness, the core of his personal brand and oft-cited for his treatment of Hunter Biden’s woes. Perhaps someday Navy can meet Maureen Dowd and give her a hug and a thank you. The pen is still mightier than the DNA test.