Saturday, June 18, 2022

How Donald Trump Turned the Oval Office Into a Boiler Room Operation

     Those of you who have been paying attention to what's been going on over the past year and a half (and I'm assuming you have, or you wouldn't be here) know the increasingly desperate lengths to which Donald Trump went in order to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election.
     Trump has been likened to a mob boss redirecting contract jobs to piano wire artists and otherwise issuing vague threats in a manner that usually gave him at least one degree of separation ("Will no one rid me of this meddlesome... [insert profession.]") There was the call to Brad Raffensberger four days before the riots in which he said, "I need to find 11,780 votes," meaning, "I need you to find 11,780 votes".
     He had fired Bill Barr, his Attorney General, when he found no fraud in the election, replaced him with Jeffrey Rosen then wanted to fire him as Acting AG when he wouldn't pass along that draft letter demanding of Georgia's governor, secretary of state and senate president pro tempore that they throw out the electoral ballots cast for Biden and to simply replace them with Trump toadies. And the only thing that kept him from doing that was the threat of half of the DOJ quitting if he made Jeffrey Clark, Trump's answer to Robert Bork, the next Acting AG.
     Yes, Trump's been acting like a mob boss for decades but his last weeks in office saw him bizarrely shrunk down to caricaturish dimensions. As Certification day and inauguration day fast approached, Trump was acting less like a mob boss of a major crime family and more like a 19th century garment factory owner running a boiler room operation.
     Last Thursday, we heard Ivanka Trump's sheepish admission that she'd attended at least one Oval Office meeting in which her father and his sleazebag accomplices set up in advance plans to make Mike Pence the fall guy in the event that he didn't send the electoral votes back to certain states. This was a plan he'd set in motion at the Ellipse on January 6th...
     ...then painted an even bigger target on his back at exactly 2:24 that afternoon when the riot inside the Capitol was in full swing.
     It's a tack that he was still taking as recently as yesterday when he went to a godbag summit at Nashville, TN and ragged on Mike Pence and others for a full 90 minutes. And, again, he dangled pardons before the January 6th rioters who, far from his assertion they're treated worse than terrorists (even though that's what they are) are getting slaps on the wrist and allowed to plea bargain down for misdemeanor offenses. This was to ensure their lack of cooperation and, more chillingly, holding out the promise of another round of pardons if and when he dispatches them again a couple of years from now.
     But the plain fact is, if Trump ever had any real sympathy for the rioters, he would've pardoned them before leaving office in 2021. But he didn't. Not one rioter got pardoned while Trump pardoned his real cronies like Stone, Bannon, Manafort and others.
     The weirdly diminished Donald Trump had lost his mojo. He threatened, brow-beat and cajoled countless illegal favors out of countless state and federal officials to no avail. It's not that they didn't want to help him. They just loved their own skins more than they loved Donald. The threats weren't working, any more, largely because Twitter had decided to permanently suspend his account.
     As January 20th and the baleful specter of Letitia James and Cy Vance, Jr. got larger and larger, Trump got more and more frantic, hence more and more sloppy. So sloppy, in fact, that the queerly reticent officials at the Justice Department may actually have a case proving Trump had guilty knowledge, hence mens rea, and knew precisely what he was doing before, during and after January 6th.
     Because, remember, Pat Cippilone told him what he was doing was illegal and based on a conspiracy theory. Bill Barr told him he was full of shit. His own daughter Ivanka told him he'd lost. Hell, even that fucking lunatic John Eastman told Trump that what he himself was doing was illegal. And he still painted a target on Pence's back. Even as the last shred of hope that Trump could cling to the presidency was ripped from his grasping fingertips, he still wanted Pence dead. That would've been an acceptable consolation prize.


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