Killing the king....
To the political class, the arcana of political gamesmanship is endlessly fascinating. On right and on the left, it is full bore politics as usual. The right is convinced gas and bacon prices trump everything. The left concedes the importance of this, but hopes abortion, Trump’s misdeeds, and recent legislative success trump to some degree gas and bacon prices.
It would, in normal times, be reasonable to say that this nets out in 2022 to Democrats hold the Senate, picking up one or two seats because Trump insisted on picking deeply flawed candidates in his own image (but with far less raw skill), and lose the House by 30 seats. No harm, no foul. In normal times.
As for 2024, there is the endless fascination with the Trump/Biden dynamic discussed in, again, normal political terms. Or with Biden or Trump being weak and both bowing out voluntarily. Or various combinations of those scenarios, with different names put forth to replace either or both.
That’s the view from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are Sarah Longwell, all the men are Norm Ornstein, and all the children follow Dave Wasserman on Twitter.
Here on our new abnormal planet Earth, not discussed, and it is difficult to figure out why, is this: What happens when Trump gets indicted but still runs and is nominated as the Republican presidential candidate for 2024?
And what happens if Trump is convicted while running? Or, after winning?
Won’t happen, you say?
Actually, Monday’s search of Mar-a-Lago raises the odds of a Trump candidacy to almost a certainty. And, if he’s the candidate, he’s 50/50 or so to win back the White House – maybe better odds than that, depending on the 2024 state of the Biden economy and who the Democrats nominate to face Trump. At least if past is prologue.
A certainty to run?
Attorney General Merrick Garland is on the mild and cautious end of the temperament spectrum found in the long skein of AGOTUS’s. And at the low end of the political sophistication band. His moving on Trump in Florida signals for anyone with breath and human intelligence that Trump is absolutely going to be indicted for something Garland believes is winnable in court and very serious. (Unless, as seems farfetched, the search was simply a ministerial effort to return to the Archives some documents that Trump had refused to turn over; if that is the case, surely the Justice Department will clear that up today….)
The response of the Trump Party will be a much more full throated version, perhaps militarized at the street level, of Kevin McCarthy’s opening shot, in which he bluntly threatened the sitting AGOTUS.
By the Rules of Trump, his people (and nearly all congressional Republicans and candidates now fall into his camp) must now take AGOTUS on, and thus take on the Federal government. The Republican Party (the Trump Party) will do this now. It will fully back him now. So forget DeSantis and Youngkin for the time being.
Garland knows full well his actions are leading to civil war. But he is going ahead, as he is convinced that Trump is a criminal, and not a petty one. Mar-a-Lago is almost certainly not about purloined papers. Garland is pursuing Trump to convict him of some version of treason.
Whether you believe Trump is a criminal or not, please understand that roughly half the country does not.
We are not headed to civil war, we are in one.
In this, Trump has already won. He has forced the Federal government to urgently defend itself from half of its own people by trying to take out the leader of those people. He has forced The Trump Party to secede from the Federal government as its way forward.
Trump has broken us. That the damn pundits are still talking endlessly about the price of gas and bacon (as painful as those are for America’s working families) proves we are just the walking dead and still don’t know it.
Until everyone admits openly that Trump has won, that the country is truly broken, that we cannot fix it by usual means, everything will just get worse.
The left doesn’t have the answers. They are all shades of woke, but/and asleep. They need to start admitting this.
The right is largely blind to policy issues and has hooked itself to a man who has shown the world – repeatedly and without ambiguity – exactly who and what he is. They need to start admitting this.
I’m doubtful anyone in either party knows how to do any of this.
Without a government of national reconciliation, a very deep examination who we really are, and where we need to get to, we are doomed for a generation or two, maybe for a lot longer.
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Here are the singular bits of reporting on the unprecedented raid of Trump’s Florida home, a paradigm-shifting event far too big for any of us to really understand and appreciate – legally, politically, semiotically, and in terms of Twitter, talk radio, or the midterms:
Federal prosecutors subsequently began a grand jury investigation, according to two people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors issued a subpoena earlier this year to the archives to obtain the boxes of classified documents, according to the two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The authorities also made interview requests to people who worked in the White House in the final days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, according to one of the people.
In the spring, a small coterie of federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago in search of some documents, according to a person familiar with the meeting. At least one of the agents was involved in counterintelligence, according to the person….
The question of how Mr. Trump handled classified material is complicated because as president he had the authority to declassify any government information. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump, before leaving office, had declassified materials the archives discovered in the boxes. Under federal law, he no longer maintains the ability to declassify documents after leaving office.
In January, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of material from Mr. Trump, raising questions about his compliance with federal law requiring official records to be turned over when a president leaves office. A person familiar with the records said they include a letter former President Barack Obama left for his successor and correspondence between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un….
The National Archives also said that some Trump presidential records it had received had been torn up.
A source who was at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the FBI raid told The Post that it was “like the scene of a ‘Die Hard’ movie” as armored cars came screeching up to the Palm Beach resort Monday morning and “at least 100” FBI agents charged into Trump’s home.
“It was totally unexpected,” the source said. “The place was mostly closed today, so the only people there were close personal friends of Trump.
Eric Trump, the former president’s son, said Monday evening on Fox News that he was the person who informed his father of the search. Mr. Trump’s son said there were more than 30 FBI agents on the property and that no notice was given. He said the agents searched an office, closet and safe.
“He didn’t even have anything in the safe,” he said.
The inventory of unclassified items in the boxes that were recovered earlier this year from Mar-a-Lago is roughly 100 pages long, according to a person familiar with that document. Descriptions of items that were improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago include a cocktail napkin, a phone list, charts, slide decks, letters, memos, maps, talking points, a birthday dinner menu, schedules and more, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the ongoing investigation.
There is a separate inventory for just the classified materials that were taken to the former president’s Florida residence, this person said. If the unclassified version of the classified inventory were organized in the same way as the inventory of nonclassified items, it would be about three pages long, according to this person.
“It’s important to note that volume is only one way to quantify the documents that were taken,” the person added. “But just one page — or one portion of highly sensitive information — being improperly released can cause great national security harm.”
As for classification level, they range from confidential to top-secret to special handling categories, the person added….
Advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss Trump’s actions, have said that he mishandled documents for years, largely by ripping them up. They described an ad hoc packing process at the end of his term, in which Trump and his family took boxes of material that should have gone to the National Archives. The Archives only learned some of the material was missing after it tried to locate items for cataloguing.
Just hours before agents searched Trump's residence, the FBI notified the Secret Service about the bureau’s plans to execute the warrant, according to a Secret Service official. The Secret Service facilitated access to the property, the official said, but did not participate in any aspect of the search….
Of how Monday's law enforcement action might affect Trump’s political aspirations, a person close to Trump said: “If he wasn’t running before, he is now.”
By Monday night, a couple dozen supporters of former President Donald J. Trump had gathered across the street from his private residence in Palm Beach, Fla., some holding Trump-Pence flags from their 2020 campaign, others wearing red Make America Great Again caps. But all were united in their anger over the news that federal authorities had conducted a search of Mar-a-Lago and, according to Mr. Trump, had even broken into a safe.
Vehicles of Trump supporters lined South Ocean Boulevard, and people had gotten out of their cars to express their support — some rather loudly.
One vehicle was blasting, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the ’80s rock ’n’ roll anthem by Twisted Sister.
Elina Fandino, who lives across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, said she was there to support the former president.
As soon as she heard about the F.B.I.’s search at Mar-a-Lago, “I looked at my husband and said, ‘This can’t be,’ ” said Ms. Fandino. She and others eventually had to leave because the police told them they were on private property.
Jo Campbell, a neighbor of Mr. Trump’s in Palm Beach, was standing in her street where vehicles were making U-turns. She was asking them to turn down the volume of the music they were blasting. Some did; others cursed at her and refused.
“I have zero issues with people having their opinions,” she said, pointing to the Mar-a-Lago emblem on her sweatshirt and indicating that she’s a member of the club. She said she was mainly concerned for some of her other neighbors. “We have people on this street who are stroke victims, families with children, cancer victims going through treatment.”
“I just hope DOJ fully appreciates all that it’s biting off here. Whether they want it to be or not, it’s going to become extraordinarily political,” said Brendan Buck, a longtime adviser to former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and a frequent Trump critic. “It would be in their interest to communicate very clearly what has happened and why. Regardless, the right is going to lose its mind, and Trump will again play the victim card to great effect.”
Waiting on the reactions of Mitch McConnell and a host of other Republicans, who might be more pro-FBI and less pro-Trump than this group:
* The Washington Post and the New York Times (twice) have Biden and Democratic midterm/policy victory lap pieces that have almost the right number of “to be sure” paragraphs, but mostly will just make Ron Klain and Chuck Schumer smile wide (except that they will be lost in the Trump news…for now….).
Olivia Newton-John, RIP.