Discover more from The Bulwark
Our Summer of Hypocrisy
Plus: A guide to Indictment IV.
In case you are keeping track at home:
Ranking the indictments in order of importance.
Prison, pardons, RICO, mugshots, bail restrictions, and TV.
“In the name of preventing election fraud, this group appropriated county election systems . . . and came to be charged with conspiring to commit election fraud themselves.”
It overlaps with one of the federal indictments—but the Fulton County indictment includes disturbing new details about Trump’s alleged ‘criminal enterprise.’
“Some lawyers have said that if Mr. Trump were an ordinary citizen issuing these attacks, he would be in jail by now. The question is whether Mr. Trump will face consequences for this kind of behavior ahead of a trial.”
“One of Trump's trial dates - for the original E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit - is set to take place on January 15, 2024, the exact same day as the Iowa caucuses.”
“This case has always been viewed as the most serious of the bunch for multiple reasons. For one, it is the first time that senior members of Trump’s inner circle will face criminal charges beside him. For another, with the prospect of real prison time, the odds of cooperating witnesses that are no longer infatuated with being in the cool kids’ club increase.”
“When it comes to analysis of Donald Trump’s growing legal liabilities, the conservative press has succumbed to something resembling a state of denial.”
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All the Ex-President’s Conspirators
Donald Trump has been a low-rent mobster for his entire career, and now he’s getting the indictment he deserves. And this time, some of the co-conspirators are likely to flip. Plus, how the Big Lie plays at next week’s debate. A.B. Stoddard joined me on Tuesday’s pod.
BONUS for Bulwark + Members:
Are Georgia Republicans Different?
A Festival of Hypocrisy
Double-standards and hypocrisy are not new, nor are they particularly rare. Indeed, even the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica would quail at the prospect of compiling all of the instances of two-faced sanctimony in our political/cultural/media universe:
The moralists who insisted that “character matters,” and then embraced Donald J. Trump.
The party of “law and order” that rationalized and downplayed the attacks on Capitol Police and now wants to DEFUND THE FBI.
The folks who chanted “lock her up,” who now clutch pearls over the “weaponization” of the justice system against their felonious cult-leader.
Lindsey Graham on any day that ends with -y.
And we’re just scratching the surface here.
So, let’s talk about a few egregious examples in the last few days. In yesterday’s Press Pass, my colleague, Joe Perticone, wrote that the reaction to the latest Hunter Biden News was “A Clinic in Hypocrisy.”
On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed David Weiss to serve as special counsel in the case against Hunter Biden. What followed defied the powers of satire:
Elected Republicans sounded the alarm of a “coverup” while conveniently forgetting that the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter was exactly what they had asked for.
There was plenty of bad faith to go around. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) immediately condemned Weiss, who was appointed by Trump to his role as a U.S. attorney in 2018, as “probably the least independent person that Merrick Garland could have appointed.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted that Garland chose Weiss “because he knows Weiss will protect Hunter.” Ted Cruz called it “disgraceful.”
As Joe pointed out: “the outraged senators appear to have forgotten the letter they and dozens of other GOP senators signed last fall explicitly asking Garland to give special counsel powers and protections to—yep—David Weiss.”
Then there is the global champion of free speech, Elon Musk. (Remember the whole “Twitter Files” thing? Me neither.)
Last seen caving to the demands of autocrats to censor political foes, Musk has apparently been “throttling” access to sites that had gotten under his remarkably thin billionaire skin. Via the Wapo: “Elon Musk's Twitter throttles links to Threads, Blue Sky and New York Times.”
The company formerly known as Twitter on Tuesday slowed the speed with which users could access links to the New York Times, Facebook and other news organizations and online competitors, a move that appeared targeted at companies that have drawn the ire of owner Elon Musk.
Users who clicked a link on Musk’s website, now called X, for one of the targeted websites were made to wait about five seconds before seeing the page, according to tests conducted Tuesday by The Washington Post.
The delayed websites included X’s online rivals Facebook, Instagram, Bluesky and Substack, as well as the Reuters wire service and the Times. All of them have previously been singled out by Musk for ridicule or attack.
Busted, Elon scrambled to cover his tracks.
On Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was first published, X began reversing the throttling on some of the sites, dropping the delay times back to zero. It was unknown if all the throttled websites had normal service restored.
Which brings us to the Boy Philosopher of the Right, Ben Shapiro, who Tweeted: “Whatever you think of the Trump indictments, one thing is for certain: the glass has now been broken over and over again. Political opponents can be targeted by legal enemies. Running for office now carries the legal risk of going to jail — on all sides.”
Well, this was awkward, because Shapiro had written a whole book calling for the criminal prosecution of Barack Obama: ‘The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration.”
In a 2014 interview with talk show Larry King, Shapiro waxed enthusiastic about using RICO to go after Obama.
“I make the case that the RICO Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act from 1970, which allows for civil charges — people can file civil suits — that that be broadened to allow people to sue members of the executive branch. So, the people themselves, essentially, become the guardians of the criminal law. Because, sorry, but I just don’t trust the executive branch to prosecute its own guys.”
“What did he do, hands on, that was criminal?” King asked of then-President Obama.
“Well, you see, this is the problem, this is why you have to use the RICO Act,” Shapiro answered. “So, no president is actually going to do things — unless you’re Richard Nixon, presumably, and there are tapes — is going to have to do things that are particularly hands on. The government is run more like a mafiaesque organization, which is, you have somebody at the top who makes, you know, a basic demand that certain things be done, and somebody at the low level says, ‘OK, well, you know, I want to up my career.’ This is Henry II with Thomas Beckett, ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’ And someone goes and rids him of the meddlesome priest.”
That, of course, was then. This is now. Like so many others on the right, Ben has evolved.
Biden’s Age Might Not Be a Problem
CONFESSION: FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, I fell into the “Biden shouldn’t run again” camp. Too old. Better not to ask Americans to re-elect a man who will be 82 in November of 2024 and . . . you know the rest. Nikki Haley summed it up tactlessly in April: “The idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is probable.”
But I’ve thought better of it. Yes, Biden is the oldest man ever elected president and bids fair to break his own record, but that’s not entirely a bad thing.
“It was pathetic, really pathetic,” Rivera said. “He really got way too big for his britches. The worst thing about what he did was the ruthless pragmatism that he displayed. I’m going to do this because that’s what the audience wants. In other words, it wasn’t the malevolent media leading the audience. It was the audience leading the malevolent media.”
“What he did was unforgivable,” Rivera concluded, arguing Carlson expressed views he did not believe in to boost his ratings. “He made a mockery of the tenets of journalism.”