There is a rising number of Americans who wish to see former President Donald Trump in the defendant’s dock, charged with whatever crimes can be dredged from the twisted end of his term. It may not be the acts of January 6th that do him in, but the fierce loyalty Trump-world demands of its inhabitants. What happens in Trump-world is supposed to stay in Trump-world, or else. When that involves testifying before Congress, it’s called witness tampering.
Democrats and Attorney General Merrick Garland are using the Jan. 6th hearings as a training camp to subpoena key Trump witnesses who are, to say the least, uncooperative. This includes former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who has so far resisted testifying under oath.
The goings-on in Washington have a dual-purpose. First, the spectacular tale of staffer Cassidy Hutchinson lays the narrative, that now Trump-world must refute. It’s clear that the U.S. Secret Service detail is not interested in corroborating Hutchinson’s testimony. The second purpose is to ferret out communications between various Trump insiders with others who could corroborate or contradict Hutchinson’s story. In that net, the seeds of pressure to defend Trump could give enough evidence to the DOJ to seek an indictment.
Watching closely is Fulton County, Georgia’s District Attorney Fani Willis, who has a special grand jury convened to examine potential criminal charges for Trump’s pressuring of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find me 12,000 votes.” A larger context of threats and a culture of conspiracy could sway that state case. It’s very possible that one way or another, Trump could be indicted.
I want to ask the question: is that a good idea? Is that justice?
I’ve always been on the unpopular opinion that the Jan. 6th crowd who entered the Capitol should be treated like Civil War Confederate soldiers. They should have been given an opportunity to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States, and sent home. The only prosecutions should have been against the organizers, the Proud Boys, et. al, who came prepared and planning violence. The random kid who showed up with his parents and ended up taking a selfie in the rotunda should not be facing prison for it. But the DOJ has prosecuted every single case, saving the top figures for last, knowing that the FBI had informants in the organized groups.
What is justice for Trump? His megadonors have abandoned him. They’re all on the DeSantis train right now, but may move yet again (Nikki Haley is one option). Trump is being increasingly isolated. His big-name endorsements, like Herschel Walker, are flailing. His MAGA supporters don’t sit well with Dr. Oz. The “Kraken” movement has laughably morphed into a carnival grift—the stuff of Ramada Inn conference rooms that host “get rich on real estate with no money down” lunches.
Hauling Trump in front of a judge and jury could indeed backfire. Trump sees himself as Colonel Jessup from “A Few Good Men.” I doubt he’d testify at his own trial, but he’d take the opportunity to message his supporters with “they can’t handle the truth.” It would galvanize a movement with the unprecedented trial of a former president that smacks of political prosecution.
For six years, the mainstream media pursued Trump doggedly, portraying him as a criminal. Many of those stories, like the Steele dossier, turned out to be political hit jobs. Many of the so-called leaks from the White House turned out to be invented stories designed to smear Trump and his administration. Now, when Trump has truly done something worthy of justice, how can the instruments of justice work against him when they have been so tainted by the media for years?
Is it worth the further trashing of all the fakers, cheaters and chiselers in the Democratic Party axis aligned with big media to try and “do justice” upon Trump? Or is is better to let him fade away in a shrill wind?
I am reminded of the chapter in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Return of the King” from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy where Gandalf and Aragorn lead the armies of Gondor to the Black Gate of Mordor, and there they are met by the Mouth of Sauron.
‘Come forth!’ they cried. ‘Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth! Justice shall be done upon him. For wrongfully he has made war upon Gondor and wrested its lands. Therefore the King of Gondor demands that he should atone for his evils, and depart then for ever. Come forth!’
The Mouth of Sauron emerged and answered:
‘Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me?’ he asked. ‘Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!’ he mocked, turning to Aragorn with scorn. ‘It needs more to make a king than a piece of elvish glass, or a rabble such as this. Why, any brigand of the hills can show as good a following!’
Who can say they can show a following who can muster the authority needed to go after Trump? I don’t think there’s really many who can at the national level. Every Democrat is tainted by the rushed and bungled impeachment from January, 2021. Even the Jan. 6th Select Committee has sullied itself with circus tricks.
Perhaps Fani Willis can remain above the fray, along with Raffensperger. But finding a jury in Georgia who could hear this case will not be easy, as the entire nation bears down upon the Atlanta courthouse. New York has spent its powder and fired its wad. Trump remains.
There’s no one who can reasonably, in the court of public opinion, and in the court of law, do legal justice upon Trump. But in the political realm, I think we’ll see the end of Trump’s influence, and the end of his run as a potential king-maker. He will slowly wilt away and become nothing more than a hawker of grifty ideas, which is what he’s always been. Except now he’s old and not so useful anymore.
Letting Trump sit in Mar-a-Lago and watch all this happen, isn’t that justice enough? Maybe it isn’t for you, but it’s probably all you’re going to get.
Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.
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