This week, I was planning to write why it is time for the Republican Party to move past the Trump era. I still believe that’s true, and I will write about those reasons soon, just not at this historic moment.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg helped me live a Michael Corleone moment; “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Almost everyone has an opinion about Donald Trump. Most people either love or hate him. I’m one of the small numbers that fall in between. I agreed with most of the policies he implemented as president but strongly disapproved of how he conducted himself.
Yes, it’s ponderous that admirers don’t see that the man who said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” might push boundaries.
On the other hand, those who revile him believe anything and everything against him. They wouldn’t recognize a witch hunt if it flew in on a broomstick and swept the floor.
The hypocrisy is what bothers me. The Trump haters see the evil intent in everything he does. When confronted with a similar occurrence by a Democrat, they shout a made-up term called “whataboutism.”
It’s easy to rationalize an email server with classified emails in a person’s home when – they aren’t Donald Trump.
If a daughter and son-in-law supposedly profit from one presidency, it’s a crime. Yet, the same people see nothing wrong when the son and brother of another president profit off the family name – without even pretending to do any work.
People can read a call transcript and know exactly what Trump meant, but the same people have no idea what “ten percent for the Big Guy” means.
Taking classified documents was a capital offense until – whoops! It was different. It’s always different.
If they didn’t hate him, they would recognize the mental gymnastics their rationalizations require.
Now, for the first time in the 230-year history of the presidency, one has been indicted. A local district attorney is taking on a case the DOJ, FEC, and his predecessor all declined to prosecute. All the DA had to do was turn a misdemeanor into a felony – or 34 of them, to be more precise.
On its face, the indictment is laughable. Bragg has tried to turn one event into 34 different crimes. It’s called stacking, and the DOJ urges district attorneys not to do it.
Bragg claims that Trump falsified business records to commit another crime, but the indictment doesn’t mention what other crimes. In his press conference, Bragg said the law doesn’t require him to do so. However, withholding what crimes a defendant is accused of committing deprives him of due process.
In essence, the indictment points to three crimes:
- Violating New York state election law.
- Making or causing additional false statements, including to tax authorities.
- Exceeding federal campaign contribution limits.
Toss the last one out. Federal campaign contributions aren’t within Bragg’s jurisdiction.
I want to ask Bragg:
- If you’re alleging that Trump cheated on his taxes, why didn’t you charge him with fraud?
- Did Trump commit a tax scheme or a campaign violation? Because if it is a tax violation, it cannot be a campaign contribution – and (almost certainly) vice versa.
Indicting the (former) President of the United States for the first time in the nation’s history must be beyond reproach. The case must be rock solid, and this one isn’t.
If there were any doubt about how unserious the indictment was, a couple of hours of cable news viewing tonight answered all questions. Fox News Channel had one legal expert after another chopping away at the merits of the indictment. Bill Barr, Andy McCarthy, Alan Dershowitz.
CNN spent the night criticizing Trump’s Mar-a-Lago speech. Oh my God, he called the judge’s wife a name! CNN doesn’t value Trump’s First Amendment rights. Naughty, naughty! But no defense of the indictment. The contrast was telling. But give CNN credit. They didn’t try to defend the indefensible.
Indefensible is a good word for what Bragg is doing. We’ve been here before. He’s taking the country back to a dark day in our history.
In 1998 House Republicans voted to impeach Bill Clinton over an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky that he tried to conceal. The Democratic response was, “It’s about a private sex matter.” Republicans said it was because of a lie. The Senate acquitted Clinton, and he stayed in office more popular than ever.
Twenty-five years later, it’s the same argument with DA Alvin Bragg in Ken Starr’s role of independent counsel. Clinton’s lie was under oath during a deposition. Trump’s fib, at least according to Bragg, is in the paperwork. Both cases are ultimately about lying to cover up an affair.
What’s the penalty? Clinton paid an $850,000 settlement to Paula Jones (whose case led to the revelation of the Lewinsky affair). A judge later ordered Clinton to pay nearly $90,000 to cover Paula Jones’ legal fees. On the last day of his presidency in 2001, Clinton agreed to a settlement with the final independent counsel Robert Ray. The agreement called for Clinton to pay a $25,000 fine and surrender his law license for five years. Although Clinton did acknowledge “falsely testifying,” he did admit not to perjury.
Nobody suggested jail time for Clinton. Many of today’s Trump haters could see clearly why Bill Clinton hid his affair 25 years ago but have invented a convoluted story about needing to pay off a porn star to save his presidential run weeks after the “grab ‘em by the p***y” tape came out.
These are likely the same people who claimed that Trump never wanted to win the White House, or thought he ever would, that it was just a publicity stunt. They believe Trump committed 34 felonies to hide an affair from the public because he felt it was the one thing that would cost him the presidency. This affair, not making fun of John McCain or a disabled reporter or disrespecting Hispanics, the tape mentioned above, or a dozen other things. This affair was that dangerous. How ridiculous is that?
I’ve been ready to move past the Trump era for a while, but the haters keep pushing me back toward him with a never-ending barrage of conspiracy theories. They don’t get it. The way to beat Trump isn’t to continue to harangue him. It makes him stronger. The way to beat him is to ignore him. It’s the one thing that Trump wouldn’t know how to deal with.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.