Wednesday, May 15, 2024


Judd Legum asks whether Donald Trump is committing a crime by directing surrogates to make statements he's preventing from making himnself:
In recent days, several high-profile Republican political figures have traveled to the Manhattan Criminal Court, where Donald Trump is on trial. Outside the courthouse, they addressed the media and attacked key witnesses, the jury, and even the judge's daughter.

The comments by Trump's Republican allies are nearly identical to attacks that Trump has made previously in interviews and social media posts. But Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that, in so doing, Trump violated the gag order he imposed to preserve the integrity of the trial....

Merchan's order prohibits Trump from "directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses." The order also prohibits Trump from directing others to attack the jury, the court staff, or family members.

... Attorney Jeff Jacobovitz, in an appearance on MSNBC, suggested that Merchan may hold a hearing over whether Trump has violated the gag order by directing his surrogates to make these attacks on his behalf. Jacobovitz noted that "if Trump is feeding information" to his allies, it would violate the gag order.
I assume Merchan won't hold a hearing, will hold a hearing but conclude that he can't prove that Trump orchestrated the obviously orchestrated statements, or will conclude that Trump did orchestrate the statements -- and will respond by fining Trump again, with yet another really strong warning that he won't let Trump get away with this and really might throw him in jail next time. Rinse and repeat.

But here's the aspect of all this that I find most bizarre:
The red tie brigade

On Monday, Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH), Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) addressed the media in front of the courthouse. On Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R), Congressman Byron Donalds (R-FL), former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (R), and Congressman Cory Mills (R-FL) did the same. Tuesday's group, in an apparent show of solidarity, wore Trump's signature blue suit and red tie.

Does that remind you of anything? If you're a Boomer, it might remind you of this:
Many of the cultists even carved an “X” into their foreheads after the first day of testimony when [Charles] Manson arrived in court sporting the same. Later, when a guilty verdict was decided and the trial went to penalty phase, Manson shaved his head, proclaiming, “I am the Devil, and the Devil always has a bald head.” Some of his devotees followed suit and could be seen crouched outside in bald-headed solidarity on the days leading up to his April 19, 1971 death sentencing.

I understand that President Biden might want to remain silent about the Trump trial because he doesn't want to be seen as interfering -- but if I were a prominent Democrat who wasn't part of the Executive Branch, I'd tell reporters. "Look at these guys in their red ties. They're like the Manson girls."

Maybe it's offensive to say "Manson girls," the way everyone did at the time of the trial. Some were underage, but many weren't. Also, as Vox's Constance Grady noted a few years ago, the term "Manson girls" was shorthand for "crazed sex-mad hippie chicks who murdered for Charlie." The reality is that most had troubled lives, and sexual assault and other forms of abuse and degradation, by Manson and others, were commonplace in Manson's world.

That's what makes the behavior of the "Trump boys" worse. They're not lost runaways. They aren't being held in check by a cult leader who's using abuse and other tactics to control their minds. They're just careerist lickspittles prostrating themselves before the boss, hoping for a place on the ticket or some other form of career advancement.

But as long as they're out there, I'm wondering why Democrats or liberal activists aren't there too, giving their spin on the trial, in provocative and mediagenic ways. Trump has turned the perimeter of the courthouse into a theater where he's putting on a show and only his followers have any lines. He's still much smarter about the media than the vast majority of Democrats. It's time for Democrats to catch up.

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