While supposedly anti-Trump organizations like the editorial boards of the Washington Post and New York Times are working overtime to concern-troll the indictment of Donald Trump over the Stormy Daniels matter, a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS finds that “sixty percent of Americans approve.” In fairness, the New York Times has been publishing skeptical guest columns, but they’re officially onboard with prosecuting the twice-impeached, disgraced ex-president. And I’d like to point out that 60 percent is a high number. In modern times, only four presidents have ever won election with more than 60 percent (Warren Harding in 1920, Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Richard Nixon in 1972).
Among those who have practical concerns, a primary worry is that going after Trump over a personal matter isn’t the most meritorious path. Why not at least begin with bigger game, like hoarding highly sensitive classified information or trying to carry out a coup? But if you’ve ever gone to concert with multiple acts, you know the headline band always comes last. Once you’ve seen The Rolling Stones are you really going to stick around to watch the Foo Fighters?
And I think we all know that the Stormy Daniels case transcends Trump’s fidelity to his wife. Trump covered up his sexual affairs because he knew if they were revealed in the heat of the 2016 campaign, he would be unlikely to survive it. As it was, he badly lost the popular vote, and he needed some good luck from FBI Director James Comey to pull off an Electoral College miracle. Moreover, his dishonest accounting has already resulted in $1.6 million fine and conviction for the Trump Organization on “17 counts of tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records.” Let’s wait until we see what’s in the indictment before we characterize this as a mere personal failing. This is part of a pattern that saw his charitable organization shut down with a $2 million settlement and his fake university shuttered with a $25 million settlement. This isn’t something out of the blue, but more of a constant drip of accountability for his life as a conman.
Frankly, it’s a bit of a myth that he’s hitherto been legally invincible, but it’s true that this is the first time he’s been charged with a crime. It will puncture his Teflon image. Still, in the short term, the charges are giving him a fundraising advantage and a major boost in the polls.
His Republican opponents are taking criticism for their unwillingness to criticize his behavior but they are probably playing this about right. It makes little sense to antagonize Trump’s supporters when even the Washington Post and New York Times are voicing doubts about the strength of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s case. Better to let the cumulative effect of multiple indictments of ever-increasing severity send a message about Trump’s character and electability before coming out strongly against him in his fight against justice.
Don’t forget, too, that Trump will be facing rape charges before anything else. Well, technically it’s a defamation and battery civil suit, but it’s really about whether a jury believes he raped journalist E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 1990’s. Trump’s lawyers are reportedly trying to weed out jurors who have used #MeToo or #BelieveWomen hashtags. I can’t imagine that trial will be flattering for the orange shitgibbon.
For now, he can boast that he’s by far the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2024, and he’s using this as a heat shield to suggest that Bragg’s case is a political effort to sideline his candidacy. I truly believe he only decided to run again because he believed it would give him this argument to take to jurors, but it probably increased the chances of him being indicted many times over. Back in the 1970’s, Vice-President Spiro Agnew cut a deal to step down and avoid prison time, and if prosecutors knew Trump would go and stay away, they might go easier on him. But he doesn’t abide by any norms, and he therefore can expect no leniency. He will be taken apart piece by piece, as a coup-plotter should be in any country that still has some self-respect.
Sixty percent of the people think it’s appropriate to charge Trump in the Stormy Daniels affair. It’s somewhat crazy to believe that more than 40 percent would vote for him if the election were tomorrow. We’ll see how they feel on the back end of this process, while he’s hopefully cooling his heals in prison.