His followers who do take every word the former President speaks to heart, likely would follow his direction and take to the streets if he’s accused of a crime, real or imagined.
First published: February 2022.
Former President Donald Trump is beginning to hold rallies and conduct interviews with right-wing media, getting attention primarily with his base.
In those rallies and interviews, he is calling for pardons for those arrested in the Jan. 6 violence to stop the electoral vote.
He is calling for protests in the streets if the various prosecutors investigating him and his businesses are found to be doing “anything illegal.”
I’m not sure what the former president is referring to when he says "illegal” in that context. I’m guessing he means whatever he deems to be illegal but there also is prosecutorial misconduct that occurs when a prosecutor intentionally breaks a law or a code of professional ethics while prosecuting a case. Trump could claim almost anything under that rubric to be “illegal.”
About the arrested rioters, he claims they have been “treated unfairly” and nothing has been done about the “other side.” For the record, the more than 700 arrested have been charged with crimes ranging from possessing weapons or committing violence to seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
Trump didn’t identify who the “other side” is but he could mean Antifa, he could mean the cops – who were fighting the rioters and could be the “other side”– or he could be referring to that unidentified “they” that in the world of some in the extreme right could mean anyone who opposes his people. “They,” of course, have been the enemy all along to Trump.
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Antifa is a decentralized, leaderless movement that vigorously opposes fascism. Antifa, many on the right believe, led the efforts in various street protests in the aftermath of the killings of black men by police. Most protestors at those events were peaceful demonstrators. But when Antifa shows up, the demonstrations often turn violent.
If they broke laws, they should be – and many have been – arrested. They, though, were nowhere to be seen when Trump supporters broke into Congress and threatened the lives of congressmen and senators in general, and then Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi specifically.
I think what Trump is doing is laying the groundwork for the possibility that any of the investigations into his wind up with him being charged with crimes and then we see serious protests and violence in major cities.
He’s proven he can incite a crowd to do his bidding and he does have a strong base of voters in the Republican Party. Remember when he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stay ready” during a debate against Joe Biden? And those Proud Boys definitely stood back and were ready for January 6.
Trump also, of course, makes everything about himself and no one else. If he’s charged with crimes, the system must still be targeting him in “witch hunts” because they always have, he’ll say. His followers who do take every word he speaks to heart, likely would follow his direction and take to the streets if he’s accused of a crime, real or imagined.
I hope I’m wrong.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
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- Text: This piece was originally published in The Conversation and re-published in PMP Magazine on 17 February 2022. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. - Donald Trump. | 22 February 2016. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)