Discover more from The Good in Us by Mary L. Trump
Almost there . . .
News is about to break in New York City [updated]
A couple of weeks ago, once again, we fell for it. After months of languishing on the sidelines during his self-imposed exile at his golf club while watching passively as Ron DeSantis started taking up the spotlight, Donald Trump changed the conversation completely. In an effort to make himself the center of attention, he posted a lie on Truth Social. It read, in part: “the far & away leading Republican candidate & former president of the United States of America, will be arrested on Tuesday of next week.”
He was referring to March 21st.
Despite the tens of thousands of documented public lies that Donald has told over the last six years, and the fact that there were no other sources to corroborate him, the media fell in line and they swallowed his lie about his “imminent” arrest whole.
Almost two weeks and one apocalyptic, anti-government rally later, an indictment was finally handed down and, as it turns out, Donald Trump was right about something—he is going to be arrested on a Tuesday—today, April 4th, to be precise. The fact that, apparently, Donald and his legal team were all “caught off guard” and that the news of the indictment “was a surprise to everybody,” suggests two things: one, Donald knew he was lying when he posted about his arrest and, two, he and his inner circle seem to be victims of his own delusion and magical thinking.
Now that the indictments have been announced, it’s important to remember that the reason Donald’s probably having difficulty processing this information is that the walls have been closing in on him since 1973. That’s when Richard Nixon’s Justice Department (!) went after him and his father, Fred, for engaging in racist rental practices at their many low- and middle-income apartment buildings in Queens and Brooklyn.
At this late date, given the infinitesimal progress of those proverbial walls, it’s unlikely Donald has ever felt under serious threat of criminal liability. Whether he was refusing to pay contractors, misusing charitable donations, ripping off students, or engaging in fraud, he had a phalanx of attorneys to make the claims against him go away. When that wasn’t possible, he had an endless supply of ill-gotten gains—from his father, from his creditors, from Russian oligarchs, and, eventually, from his cult followers—to finance his lawsuits and fund his out-of-court settlements.
Donald’s pre-indictment maneuverings were the result of his very real, if unconscious, fear that his influence is waning. He probably sees the indictments as the best way for him to steal the spotlight back from DeSantis; until, that is, his facing criminal charges is no longer theoretical. And, as of today, that’s where we’re going to be.
A crucial conundrum we’ve faced ever since Donald declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election is how to be alert to the dangers he represents without giving him too much attention. This has been a tricky proposition since he became the leader of the Republican party in 2016. And, thanks to his Republican enablers, he remains one of the most powerful people in American politics.
After DeSantis’ disastrous performance over the last two weeks—capped off by his obsequious refusal to extradite his rival if that became necessary (which it never would)—Donald’s position as the front-runner for the Republican’s 2024 presidential nomination remains unchallenged. So, we can’t afford to ignore him. We may find that annoying or even tragic but it remains true. It is equally dangerous, however, to pay attention to him for the wrong reasons.
It is certainly not required that the attention be on his terms. One of the most crucial skills we have to learn going forward is how to thread the needle between accurately explaining the very real threat Donald poses to American democracy and knowing when to withdraw our attention from him entirely—which is what should have happened after his mendacious post about his arrest. Perhaps most importantly of all, we need to be clear that the reason Donald poses such an existential threat is because of the lengths both he and the entirety of the Republican Party will go to protect him.
Now that Donald has been indicted, he will run for the Republican nomination even more aggressively. He and his base will be even more energized and he’ll raise more money. As astounding as this may seem, the Republican nomination is still his to lose. This son of extraordinary privilege, the man who only two years ago was the most powerful man on the planet, will portray himself, as he always has, as an aggrieved victim. In his view, these indictments hand him evidence that he is under attack from the Deep State.
The Republican machine is doing everything in its power to push Donald’s preferred narrative: any attempt to hold him accountable for the crimes he has committed is a politically-motivated assault launched against him and his followers.
Kevin McCarthy has shown us that he is all in. Fox anchors may complain that Donald needs to stop re-litigating the 2020 presidential election but they, too, will fall in line when it becomes clear that no other Republican can challenge him.
It’s unfathomably difficult, if not impossible, for Donald to process the idea that he may not be invulnerable to justice after all. The cognitive dissonance created by his belief in his right to impunity and the fact that he' is going to be arrested is creating a perfect storm of paranoia, fear, and rage that should put all of us who are aware of the dangers he and his followers present on our guard.
At his Waco rally and elsewhere, Donald has stopped short of name-checking the likes of David Koresh or Timothy McVeigh. He has, however, invoked them in a way designed to encourage his sycophants to become proxies in his battle. The more he is threatened, the more he will increase his demands for their action.
Much like Bill Barr undermined the impact of the Mueller report by pre-empting its release with lies about its findings, Donald and the Republicans are pre-empting any reasonable analysis of the 34 charges he’s about to face in New York.
This leaves open the opportunity for Republican leadership and the powers that be at Fox to continue enabling Donald along the destructive course he’s been barreling down for years. They’ll stand by as he flouts the rule of law, they’ll spur him on to stoke violence. In other words, they won’t just let Donald get away with his vile behavior, they’ll encourage it.
We can only hope that Judge Merchan will use his considerable authority to mitigate the potential for disaster.
The Good in Us by Mary L. Trump is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.