Tuesday, October 03, 2023


The New Republic's Michael Tomasky believes that Donald Trump's upcoming trials will do a great deal of damage to him, beginning with the first one:
Let’s start with this week’s case. New York Attorney General Letitia James has charged that Trump and his family repeatedly inflated the value of their properties from 2014 to 2021....

There’s a reasonable chance that Trump will be ordered to fork over something close to the $250 million James seeks. He can afford it (or so he says), and of course he’ll appeal. But he’ll have been forced to drink a humiliating cup of truth over a scam he’s been pulling for years. There will be weeks of headlines about how he might lose Trump Tower.
Tomasky concludes:
Swing voters will notice, and not sympathetically.
But will they? They didn't seem to notice when Trump agreed to pay $25 million shortly after the 2016 election to settle lawsuits involving his fraudulent Trump University. Nor do they seem to have paid attention to Trump's court losses in the E. Jean Carroll case.

Sure, this is different -- Trump is on the hook for much more money than he was in the Trump University case. His business might be disbanded -- although appeals are likely to stretch past November 2024.

Democrats aren't doing a very good job of making ordinary citizens feel angry about Trump's financial criminality; it's my sense that most Americans see his fraudulent valuations of his properties as remote and unrelatable. There's a dispute between a rich New York real estate guy in an expensive suit and wonky government officials who say he violated eye-glazing financial regulations. No anti-Trump partisan ever says, If you, the average citizen, tried to get away with lying on a loan application the way Trump regularly lies, you'd suffer severe consequences.

The sense that Trump's court battles are part of a war between elitists is reinforced by the news coverage:

It's always that way with Trump. Remember the day in August when he turned himself in to the authorities in Georgia?
Donald Trump’s motorcade zoomed into an Atlanta detention facility last week escorted by a convoy of police motorcycles leading more than a dozen other vehicles. It was like he was still in office — not facing 91 felony charges .

There were police cruisers, black Secret Service Chevrolet Suburbans with shiny tires and rims, an armored police vehicle, vans for aides and press, and even a yellow ambulance. As the convoy approached the jail, a phalanx of officers on motorcycles led the way. An A-list movie producer would have struggled to create such a perfect, and presidential, visual.

The highways and urban streets that the motorcade traversed were free of any other traffic traveling in the same direction, and side streets were blocked off. Local and federal officers in Kevlar vests kept an eye on bystanders eager to get a glimpse of Trump’s latest spectacle.

The motorcade was a co-star in Trump’s latest made-for-television event, turning a 22-minute booking at the so-called “Rice Street Jail” into a dramatic six-hour prime-time spectacle.
Trump is an elitist to his fans as well -- but he tells them he's an elitist fighting for them, and they believe him.
Trump’s campaign blasted out a fundraising email with a subject line of “I just left the courthouse” roughly 20 minutes after court was dismissed in Manhattan, where the former president had been present....

“Politicians, drunk with power, are weaponizing the legal system to try and completely destroy me — and, ultimately, imprison me for the rest of my life as an innocent man. And why do they want to stop me so bad?” the email asks.

“Because they know that I’m on the verge of winning the 2024 election in a landslide and upon taking office, will take away their power and return it to YOU, the American people,” it continues.
Trump often tells his followers that they are the real target (of the authorities, of the Democrats, of the media). I wrote about this after he was indicted in the classified documents case:
Immediately after Trump's most recent indictment, he pinned a message to the top of his Truth Social feed: “THEY’RE NOT COMING AFTER ME, THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOU—I’M JUST STANDING IN THEIR WAY!” He said this in his first speech after the recent indictment. He also said it in March when his New York indictment was imminent. He said it when he was president:

I wrote that Trump probably learned to do this from Fox News:
The message of Fox and the rest of the right-wing media is THEY'RE COMING FOR YOU! In April of last year, The New York Times published an analysis of hundreds of Tucker Carlson broadcasts and noted that his go-to message was that "they" want to do bad things to "you."

To the right, the arrests and convictions that followed January 6 are proof of concept. People aren't being arrested and convicted because they're actually guilty of crimes -- they're being arrested and convicted because they're out to get you.
This is absurd, but it's effective. Democrats, in contrast, don't personalize Trump's crimes this way. They don't say that you couldn't get away with fake valuations of your assets on a loan application, they don't say that Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results would have deprived you of your vote, they don't say that Trump's mishandling of classified documents put you at risk, and they don't even say that you or a woman you love could have been the victim of a Trump sexual assault, or that you or someone you care about could have lost money by falling for the lies of Trump University.

In his New Republic piece, Tomasky writes about an upcoming Trump case I rarely hear about:
This is a class-action suit accusing Trump and children of fraud by convincing customers to invest in get-rich-quick schemes while accepting “large, secret payments” from the companies they were pitching. One plaintiff, a hospice caregiver in California, paid $499 to register for a course and says she spent thousands attending seminars to earn a whopping $38. This is the kind of matter Trump has a history of settling—remember, he paid $25 million to avoid facing the music over Trump University. But if this one goes to trial, imagine the stories we’ll hear. Here’s hoping the plaintiffs refuse to settle so that the voting public can hear every detail of what cheap, sleazy people these are.
This is a perfect opportunity for Democrats to say that Trump is dangerous for people like you. Instead, Democrats focus almost exclusively on real and potential damage to institutions. They don't describe the danger Trump posers as one that affects ordinary people. And Trump benefits from that.

No comments: