The Most Disturbing Part of Trump’s Latest Rant
The former president is warning of “death & destruction” if he’s indicted.
Donald Trump is back in his presidential—or at least modern-day-presidential—form, posting unhinged threats on social media in the middle of the night. Early today, he posted on his Truth Social site:
What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country? Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!
Nearly every phrase in this message is disturbing, but the most rattling part is his threat of “death & destruction.” This is classic Trumpian mob-boss talk: He doesn’t make a specific threat against anyone, and he doesn’t specifically incite any acts. He might even note in his defense that some of his own critics have fretted that arresting him might produce a violent backlash. And yet the intent is unmistakably to intimidate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and anyone else who might try to charge him with crimes. It’s a threat against the American justice system as a whole.
By now, no one will seriously wonder whether this kind of threat is too much for other Republican leaders to bear. Everyone knows the answer is no. When Trump previously predicted he would be arrested earlier this week and called for protests, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy demurred. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” he said. “We want calmness out there.” Yet McCarthy also said, “He’s not talking in a harmful way, and nobody should.” GOP leaders have repeatedly found ways, however implausible, to look past Trump’s abuses.
If the intimidation is shocking, the more revealing part of the rant is what it indicates about Trump’s mindset amid the several criminal probes into him, some of which appear to be moving toward indictments. As he once said in a very different context, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” And although Trump was referring to groping women then, that was also his philosophy in life: He broke rules and laws left and right, confident that he wouldn’t get called on it, and if he did, he could easily handle whatever was coming with muscular lawyering or, failing that, a quiet fine or settlement. Now Trump is finding that simply being a star is insufficient to get him out of trouble. In fact, his notoriety has attracted extra scrutiny.
To further dissect his statement:
What kind of person can charge another person
That’s a prosecutor’s job, of course.
who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination
Trump loves this talking point, but the problem remains that Joe Biden got more votes. His implication is that because he is popular (or somewhat popular!) he ought to be immune to law enforcement.
with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed...
Trump is begging the question. Plenty of evidence suggests at least the possibility of a crime, and the point of a trial is to determine whether one has been committed. The former president doesn’t even really bother to mount a substantive defense to the expected allegation against him here, which is that he falsified business records in reimbursing his former fixer Michael Cohen for a hush payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actor. (He has previously denied any wrongdoing, as well as an affair with Daniels.) Instead, he’s upset that anyone would even bother to suggest that the rules apply to him.
Legal problems aside, a lively debate has occurred over whether getting indicted would actually be good for Trump, by rallying support to him. He’s seen recent improvement in primary polls against Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, and raised lots of money. But this Truth missive shows that Trump isn’t acting like it’s good for him. His anger suggests he views Bragg’s probe as a threat, and that leads him to the predictable and unacceptable position of making threats of violence. Trump has the right question: “Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!” Not a bad answer, either.