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Mr. Trump is Ready For His Close-Up
Strap in for an extraordinarily busy day
Interesting question: Will there be a mugshot today? (Maybe not.)
Much more interesting question: How many mugshots will there be this year?
A quick reminder of all of Trump’s other investigations:
First, there is the investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
Second, there is DOJ’s investigation of the effort to stymie the transfer of power following the 2020 election, including the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol…
Third is the investigation—led by Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia—into election fraud in that state, arising from Trump’s having asked the Georgia secretary of state to “find” enough votes to hand him an Electoral College win there.
Fourth is the set of investigations (some criminal, some civil) into Trump’s various corporate enterprises. The attorney general of New York state, Letitia James, and the district attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, have each been leading probes.
Today’s indictment in New York results from the fifth investigation. And, as Kim Wehle noted in a recent Bulwark piece, there is also a sixth, involving “both DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and it implicates conduct since Trump left office and after he was expelled from Twitter and launched his own social media platform, Truth Social.”
Happy Arraignment Day.
In case you missed it because you have a life, yesterday’s news cycle — complete with wall-to-wall slow-moving-Bronco-coverage of Trump’s flight to NYC — was a pretty stark reminder that the media (especially television) has learned nothing in the last few years.
Trump, Trump, Trump. And more Trump.
That's all that news viewers were going to see Monday if they switched on any of the leading US television networks during Donald Trump's trip from Florida to New York ahead of his criminal arraignment.
The war in Ukraine, the unveiling by NASA of its future Moon crew, a speech by the actual president, Joe Biden, in Minnesota -- good luck finding any of that.
"All Trump, all the time," summarized media watcher Aaron Rupar over a tweeted collage of no less than seven news channels simultaneously featuring some sort of live Trump coverage.
How bad was it?
Beyond parody, really.
Today will be worse. Much worse. Except that there will also be real news. Lots of it. Lest it gets lost in the inevitable NYC news blizzard there is also:
The pivotal race for state Supreme Court in Wisconsin.
The election for mayor in Chicago, in a contest that dramatizes the Democratic divide.
All of them, arguably will have longer term consequences than today’s non-perp walk. But I digress from today’s MAIN EVENT.
Finally, we will get to see the dozens of felony charges when the indictment in unsealed today, and we will get the highly choreographed scenes from around the courthouse.
But, apparently, no cameras in the courtroom itself, after the notoriously camera-shy Trump objected. And, yes, he is going to be getting special treatment. Here’s yahoo’s Michael Isikoff:
Trump will not be put in handcuffs, placed in a jail cell or subjected to a mug shot — typical procedures even for white-collar defendants until a judge has weighed in on pretrial conditions. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, which has been consulting with the Secret Service and New York City court officials, concluded there was no reason to subject the former president to handcuffs or a mug shot.
ICYMI, Will Saletan and I debated the mugshot issue on yesterday’s Bulwark podcast:
Exit take: All of this will have a circus-like quality. But today is also a good time to remind ourselves that a clown with a flamethrower still has a flamethrower.
I had a chance to sit down with Judy Woodruff for this PBS report on Wisconsin’s divide and today’s monumentally important (and costly) Supreme Court election.
Charlie Sykes: This is one of those cases where the hype is not overstated, because, here in Wisconsin, everything is at stake. We now have extreme partisanship, but we also have gridlock between a legislature dominated by Republicans and a Democratic governor.
Nothing is going to happen. Nothing is going to change. So everything shifts to the Supreme Court. And no one is making any pretense that this is anything other than partisan. So it's going to be hard to go back to a, we ought to elect judges based on their credentials or their judicial temperament. That era seems to have been beaten to death with hammers.
Judy Woodruff: Charlie Sykes traces much of the polarization in Wisconsin back over a decade to then-Governor Scott Walker's Act 10, a measure that, among other things, effectively ended collective bargaining for the state's public employees.
It sparked months of intense protests at the state capitol and exposed divisions still seen today.
Charlie Sykes: One of the things that, as I look back on it, at a certain point, our politics becomes about the fight. The fight becomes about the fight. It becomes about us vs. them. The actual policy matters less than beating the other guy.
And in Florida…
1. Who’s Really Undermining the Rule of Law?
The indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is risky, but nothing about it undermines the rule of law. The risks are political and prudential. The Republicans, by contrast, are chest-deep in contempt for law.
We saw one political risk of Bragg’s indictment play out even before anyone had read the charges. Call it the Rally Round the Criminal effect. It has been evident for some time that Republicans thrill to imagined persecution. After the completely justified, arguably essential, search of Mar-a-Lago for stolen top secret documents, the GOP sprang to Trump’s defense in Pavlovian fashion. It wasn’t just that their knees jerked; it was the language they adopted, dipping autonomically into the extremist/incendiary vocabulary they’ve learned at Trump’s knee. It was “defund the FBI” (per Marjorie Taylor Greene), and “impeach Merrick Garland” (per Josh Hawley), and eliminate the “brownshirts of the FBI” (per Paul Gosar).
2. The Devil Was Here on Earth
Cathy Young writes: The atrocities committed by the Russian army in Bucha one year ago have become the face of war’s horrors—and they were no isolated incidents.
It is a year since the Kyiv region was liberated from the last of invading Russian troops. But this anniversary, which marks the first major Ukrainian success in this war, is coupled with a much more tragic occasion: A year ago, the world discovered the horrors inflicted by the invaders on the location population. One quiet suburban town gave those horrors a name: Bucha.
The first reports came in when, following the Russians forces’ hasty retreat, journalists and other observers who entered the liberated town saw the bodies: dead people, not soldiers but civilians, lying by the sidewalk or in the middle of the street, some on their back, some face down with hands tied behind the back. More than twenty such corpses were found along just one street, Yablonska Street. Later, there were more bodies, hundreds of them: in charred remnants of cars, in the front yards of homes, in parking lots, in basements—and in mass graves.
Fact check, please.