I have what I’ll call “mixed emotions” about the Manhattan indictment against former President Donald Trump, B. Jay Cooper writes.
I think, of course, that if a prosecutor has the evidence that he/she is convinced will result in a conviction, charges must be brought.
I also wish that the month-long recess announced for the Grand Jury earlier in the week had happened before this indictment was brought.
Why? As many have noted, the Manhattan case is likely the weakest of the potential cases against Trump because it involves, probably, charges that will be lesser than the other investigations might bring.
The “he slept with a porn star” case is the easiest to joke about and belittle as a violation of marriage vows not a violation of the law. A few weeks of the kind of attention Trump and his cohorts will bring to the case – and among his most solid of supporters – will demean the case even more.
Of course, this case is not about his sleeping with a porn star but what he did illegally to cover up that affair, whether from his wife or/and the voters.
The potential charges down the road – inciting an insurrection, trying to change election results and more – obviously have a more serious impact. Everything about the Manhattan case is being belittled already and, to be the cynic that I can be is being used by those who were backing away from Trump as an easy road to defend him, and try to win back his supporters.
Take the Fox News talking heads. According to news reports, each of them was assailing the Manhattan prosecutor and supporting Trump on the indictment last night. Why? Well, a few months ago we might have thought it was because they truly support Trump. But we now know that they supported him on the “fixed election” scam because it meant good ratings and happy viewers. In other words, it was about the money it meant for the network and its star employees.
This case is an “easy” one to rally to Trump’s defense, but is it because they truly believe that or are we back to clicks and likes? I know where my vote goes.
For those Trump supporters who are elected officials, it also is an easy one to defend him to get back in his good graces. Trust me, he isn’t about to shun any support on this case and point to his elected supporters as denizens of the Washington swamp. This charge focuses Trump on the prosecutor, not his fellow Republicans who have had it with him.
Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona. | CREDIT: FLICKR/GAGE SKIDMORE
Even Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a likely Trump opponent for the 2024 presidential nomination and a Harvard-trained attorney, is offering to violate the Constitution and refuse to extradite Trump (a Florida resident) if he refuses to surrender. (The extradition clause: “A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”)
Even my blue-collar college education allows me to understand that clause. I don’t need a Harvard diploma for that.
But DeSantis, who has been meekly marking the differences between himself and Trump lately, now will protect Trump from the Constitution, in another effort to appeal to Trump supporters.
It truly is amazing how some elected (and appointed) officials who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution can so easily violate it. Makes ya wonder what other laws they feel they can violate.
There also are reports that this indictment may include more than a couple of dozen charges (each check Trump wrote to his former fixer Michael Cohen can be a separate charge, for example).
In any event, if there is a case to be made – and we’ve yet to see the indictment – of course, no one is above the law. And anyone who’s talked to me about Trump since his ride down the Golden Escalator knows my views of him.
From a strategic point of view, I’d just have preferred the Stormy Daniels case was a backup player to the other, far more serious potential crimes.
Trump and his sycophants will keep pointing to the “silliness” of the charges. And of course, they say that before any of us know the actual charges.
Prosecutors, based on their oath and responsibilities, don’t always have the option to be strategic from that point of view.
They have to follow the law.
As does a current or former President of the United States.
— 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.
▪ Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 3 April 2023, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
▪ Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. - Donald Trump in Florence, Arizona. | 15 January 2023. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)