I’d hoped that at the end of the 2020 elections, Donald Trump and his divisive cultural war would fade into the dustbin of history where he and it belongs.
Alas, the nation is cursed to endure MAGA politics, misinformation and chaos for the foreseeable future.
Part of that is due to Trump himself and his plans to run again in 2024 for president. As one of the most divisive politicians in American history, Trump is an oversized personality with an undersized ethos — he will do and say anything in pursuit of his own ambitions. No turmoil is too great and no lie is too big for Trump if it salves his hypersensitive ego and promotes his self-serving agenda.
But the ongoing Trumpian curse also due to the fallout of Trump’s first term in office and four different criminal investigations into his conduct.
Last week, a New York grand jury issued sealed indictments against Trump. As of this writing, he’s supposed to turn himself in on April 4 to New York authorities for booking.
That is likely to be a spectacle as protestors and gawkers crowd NY streets for a glimpse of what promises to be a historic perp walk in Trump’s hometown. It’s the first time a president, past or present, has been criminally indicted. It marks a watershed moment in U.S. history — for good or ill remains to be seen.
There are three ways to look at the NY indictment of Trump:
• Trump and his supporters consider it a political move by rogue Democrats to undermine Trump’s 2024 election plans. They claim that the legal system has been “weaponized” for political goals.
• A second way to look at the NY indictments is that they show no man, not even an ex-president, is above the law. At this writing, we don’t yet know the details of the indictments, but we do know they revolve around allegations of hush money payments in 2016 to keep a porn star quite about an alleged affair she had with Trump.
• Which brings us to the third way to look at the indictments — the way I view them — is with a groaning “meh!” Translated, it’s a shrug of the shoulders. Trump probably did pay off people to keep quiet. That’s alleged to be his usual mode of operation in the business world where ethical concerns often fall to the mantra of “do whatever it takes to win.” The payoffs, if they happened, probably violated some kind of federal election rule and that may be what the indictments allege. Even so, I have a difficult time getting excited about prosecuting Trump over such misdeeds. Is the resulting hullabaloo worth it?
Which is not to say Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted at all. There are two other investigations that seem to me to be much bigger and more important than a porn star’s hush money.
One of those investigations is here in Georgia where Fulton County prosecutors are probing Trump’s blatant attempts to have leading Georgia officials illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state.
Trump narrowly lost the Georgia vote to Joe Biden; furious, Trump called several state officials goading them to find him more votes. In Trump-speak, he wanted them to cheat so he’d get the state’s electoral college votes rather than Biden.
Some of the phone calls Trump made were recorded so there’s not much dispute about what was said. Pair Trump’s own words with his false claims (and false claims by his allies) that the state’s voting was rigged and the move by some in the state GOP to send a list of fake electors to Congress and there’s a clear pattern that Trump pushed, endorsed and supported the effort to overturn a legitimate election in the state.
Seems to me that is a much bigger deal and more consequential to defending our system of fair elections than porn star payoffs. (Or the probe into Trump having taken classified documents to Florida after he left office. While potentially more serious than the porn star payoffs, the context of those classified documents isn’t yet clear.)
There’s another investigation that is also bigger than the NY indictments. The U.S. Justice Department is probing Trump’s connections to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot on the U.S. Capitol where Trump supporters attempted to disrupt the counting of electoral votes.
The big question in that is: Did Trump incite that riot and if so, should he be prosecuted for his role in the resulting chaos and violence?
Trump and many of his supporters have attempted to rewrite history of that event and portray it as a peaceful protest. They’ve called those prosecuted for their role in breaking into the Capitol as “political prisoners.”
But that MAGA Orwellian double-speak can’t wash away what we all saw live on television that day when thousands of Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn an election.
Trump clearly endorsed what happened, but whether or not that’s prosecutable is another issue. That will be up to the judicial system to decide.
Meanwhile, we’re left with the NY indictments which seem to be the weakest and lest important of all the investigations into Trump. There are bigger fish to fry and this one seems a little too small to waste time with.
And yet, because they are the first indictments and because they’re happening in the nation’s largest media market, they’re getting an outsized amount of publicity vis a vie their impact on our system of government.
Which is a shame because a lot of people around the country are tired of the Trump circus.
Makes my head hurt to have to write about Trump again. But no public official has such a hold on the American political psyche as Trump has had since 2015.
For better or worse, he’s news. Maybe someday, he won’t be.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of Mainstreet Newspapers. He can be reached at mike@mainstreetn
To me, it looks like Trump's original mistake was not the hush money payoff to a p*rn star but being under the impression that Republicans / Evangelicals would care. Had he known their apathy towards the whole situation, he might've used Stormy in his campaign ads.
Why does any of this matter anyway? Whether it's Bill Clinton lying about his sexual activities in the Oval Office (under oath) or other Dems or Repubs doing likewise. Why spend time writing about all of this foolishness? Payments from foreign adversaries to manipulate our government seem so much more important. We have a broken system -period.
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