GELFAND’S WORLD - For a guy who ran his businesses and political campaigns based on smearing his opponents, Donald Trump is showing a bit of sensitivity over his upcoming indictment. So will he or won't he is the question. And if he does get indicted or charged, how will it happen? Will he appear in front of a judge to hear the charges read, or will he be met by law enforcement officers and get handcuffed? Or will there be some deal where he goes in the back door somewhere, hears the charges, and is spirited out the same back door?
It's been nothing more than speculation for years, but all of a sudden it's reality because -- get this -- Donald Trump said so. He's expecting to get arrested as early as Tuesday say the headlines, even though the smarter money points out that the Grand Jury is still hearing testimony as of Monday and won't meet again until Wednesday.
So maybe it will be Wednesday that history will finally be made (or Friday) when we have the first indictment of a former President of the United States.
The news media have been following Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence around, and managed to get statements from both of them, each one more sleezy than the other. DeSantis blamed the expected action on a "Soros funded prosecutor." The name Soros is a buzz word in right wing circles, both because he is a liberal who donates money to liberal candidates and causes, and because he is a Jew. The latter is more whispered around, but it's of interest that the right has tarred his name so aggressively. It seems a bit desperate on the part of DeSantis that he pulled that phrase out of his bag of dirty tricks, but locked in what he thinks is a battle for the presidential nomination, he has to say something. Such is life for Republican wannabe's who are not named Trump. They have to simultaneously get in some little dig about Trump but not inflame the more rabid Trump supporters.
It's all good clean fun in the realm of American politics, at least in terms of watching the Republicans sniffing around the primary fight.
For the most fun, let's look at what Mike Pence had to say about the expected indictment. But first I would like to dust off the name of Robert Fisk. The term "Fisking" came into play in the golden days of internet blogs. It's apparently named after journalist Fisk, and goes like this: You take something that somebody else spoke or published, and you respond paragraph by paragraph or sentence by sentence. Typically, the Fisker (it was sometimes typed in lower case as "fisking" which is a true tribute to the originator) would use some separate font or color such as Red to indicate his own thoughts. So let's fisk away on Mike Pence.
The following is taken from a CNBC article, which quotes from an ABC interview. Author Kevin Breuninger's story and Mike Pence's statements are in black, and mine in red.
"Former Vice President Mike Pence said that the expected arrest of his ex-boss, former President Trump, by Manhattan prosecutors would amount to a “politically charged prosecution.”
Prosecutions are either meritorious or they are not, and sometimes you have to observed the trial to figure out which. But just because the defendent was a politician, does this mean that the charges are somehow "political"? Or is Pence trying to imply that the prosecutor is trying to develop his own career by going after a big-name celebrity? Such cases are, often enough, career destroyers, as anybody who remembers the OJ Simpson case will agree. No. The only way this is a politically charged prosecution is that the D.A. is part of some massive conspiracy against Donald Trump. Of course in Trump's world, everybody is part of a conspiracy, but it's a little disappointing to hear the same words from Pence.
“I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States,” Pence said in an ABC News interview that aired Sunday.
And I'm taken aback at the idea of failing to indict somebody when there is overwhelming evidence of guilt, and it's a substantial crime.
“At a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority I think — tells you everything you need to know about the radical left,” he said.
What a weird remark. Has the Manhattan D.A. stopped prosecuting all other crimes until he gets the Trump conviction? Doesn't seem likely. Actually, there are pretty good numbers for New York arrests from Kevin Drum and it looks like the arrest and prosecution business is moving right along. But the idea that a D.A. would use any resources at all to investigate a crime that has already had one felony conviction is called "radical left" by Mike Pence, who would surely be called "radical right" by the pro-choice majority.
“It just feels like a politically charged prosecution,” Pence said, adding, “for my part, I just feel like it’s just not what the American people want to see.”
Pence repeats himself, once again avoiding any concern over whether or not a crime has been committed. If Trump or any of his cronies get prosecuted, it automatically is "politically charged" implies Pence. I think it is what the American people want to see.
Let's say it one more time. There is plenty of evidence of Trump's crooked dealing because it came right out of his own mouth and is in the public record.
The main question seems to be this: Who is going to be the first to indict Trump? Will it be a District Attorney or state Attorney General or federal Special Prosecutor? There are pretty good odds that it will be the Manhattan D.A., but we've got the January 6 Special Prosecutor and the Georgia Attorney General right behind.
Why January 6, 2021 is both the wrong example and the right example
As the above cited article makes clear, Trump is once again inviting his followers to rise up in revolt against the machinery of law and order. It came close to working on January 6, in the sense that the congress was impeded for a few hours, and there were members of congress who tried to push Trump's unconstitutional demands.
And mainly, there were a lot of Trump supporters who were willing to engage in violence to try to stop the lawful election of Joe Biden. So in this sense, Trump's call to violence is just the next in what is proving to be a series of such calls, and there is the evidence of the videotapes that it worked the first time.
But times have changed
Since the January 6 Capitol riots, the forces of law and order have been reasserted. All those people who stormed the Capitol building in the belief that their obedience to Donald Trump would get the election overturned? One by one, they are being indicted, then tried, and for the most part they are being sentenced to federal time. Hard time. Some of them are getting six year sentences, and the feds don't give a lot of time off for good behavior.
So the message has been sent. If you want to engage in acts of violence with the intent of obstructing justice, then you are likely to be identified, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a substantial length of time behind bars. The core leadership of the pro-Trump fascist alliances have been put into the criminal justice system. Many of them have tried to convince a judge that they have remorse, but this isn't playing all that well. And Trump didn't do all that much for most of them in the days between January 6 and the day that he was no longer president. Anyone who wants to think about rioting on Trump's behalf over the expected indictment had better think again. Maybe they can get away with it in Florida, but I don't think it will get them very far in New York, except to the nearest jail cell.
Of course we don't know for sure whether the indictment is on the way, much less the exact day, but I'm guessing that when and if it comes down, there will be more people celebrating openly than there will be pro-Trump rioters.
And for this, we have the House Committee on the January 6 attack to thank, because they, along with so many others, whittled down the Big Lie and all the other lies, to the point that it is hard to look like a serious person while continuing to repeat them.
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected].)