A Felon in the White House?

A Felon in the White House?

I love irony—usually. In most circumstances, we can sit back as casual observers, as irony provides someone we know with much-needed insight while utilizing a flair for the humorous that makes the recognition strike home with an indelible force. But other times, we are the victims of irony, as it steps up to bitch-slap us across the rosy cheeks of our own naivety. I’m not sure how many Trumpers there are out there that grasp the irony that their boy who once led his followers to chant “Lock her up” in regards to Hilary Clinton’s use of a personal email server is now himself a convicted felon, but from all I can tell, the ringing tones of hypocrisy are falling on deaf ears. That’s because Trump and his all-too-willing lackeys in the Republican Party and right-wing media are simply spinning the narrative once again and potentially tearing apart the fabric of our nation in doing so.

When I heard the news that Trump had been convicted on all 34 felony counts by a unanimous jury decision, I literally yelled “Take that, you treasonous shitgibbon!” so loud that the driver of the car next to me looked over to be sure that I wasn’t screaming at him. “There’s no way that contemptuous asshole could win the Presidency now,” I thought to myself, as I reveled in the possibility of spending the next five months in an emotional space of more natural repose. But then I went home and turned on FOX News to see what spin they could put on all this, and it quickly became abundantly clear that this wasn’t going to change the needle nearly as much as I had hoped.

Already there was Trump and his ventriloquist dummies with his hand implanted firmly up their asses spewing nonsense about how the trial was a “witch-hunt” and how the trial had been “rigged”. And already I knew I would have to be writing this week’s column in a Quixotic attempt to disabuse these poor rubes of the false notion that this trial was anything other than a resounding proof that the justice system really does work and that no one, not even a corrupt former President who wields power with all the niceties of a Sicilian mob boss, is above the law.

If you have a fairly decent understanding of how the legal system works and have a decent sense of the law Trump was charged with and the facts surrounding the case, you know that Trump is guilty as Hell. The statute Trump was charged under requires that he conspired (1) to falsify business records (2) in order to falsely impact the outcome of the 2016 election. The defense spent most of their time attacking the credibility of Michael Cohen, but Cohen wasn’t the lynchpin in the prosecutor’s case. The person who perfectly outlined all of the necessary ingredients to the commission of the crime was Trump’s long-time friend and ally David Pecker who testified how he, Trump, and Cohen conspired to buy the Stormy Daniels story and then bury it, not, as Pecker pointedly put it, to protect his wife and son from the salacious scandal, but to strip the American voters of vital information prior to the 2016 election. In the midst of a weeks-long trial, it was, as is often the case, the Pecker that did all the real damage.

But in the end, it was a jury of Trump’s peers that convicted him on all 34 counts. That’s because that’s how justice works in this country. Despite being represented by high-priced attorneys you or I could hardly afford, Trump was found guilty by a 12-0 count that included several registered Republicans. Trump has argued that the DA and judge were against him, but neither of them gets a voice in the verdict. Trump even tried to implicate Biden in his conviction. “They are in total conjunction with the White House and the DOJ,” Trump said of the court. “Just so you understand, this is all done by Biden and his people.” Unfortunately for that ill-conceived narrative, this trial was run in a state court that is entirely independent from the DOJ. Likewise, Trump even blamed the prosecutor for not allowing him to testify in his own defense, even though he knows damn well that it was his own attorney that told him not to do so. Funny, how in 2016 he said, “If you’re innocent, then why are you taking the 5th?” Hmmm….care to answer that question yourself now, Donald?

Of course, he doesn’t. He just wants to blather on about other fake “injustices” that he throws out there, hoping some of them will stick to the walls of his supporter’s brains. He complained about a gag order that he necessitated by hurling insults and threats at the judge’s family. He has argued that the jury should have been sequestered. His legal team squawked at the judge’s ruling that deemed testimony from Bradley Smith, a former head of the Federal Election Commission, as inadmissible. And yes, it is possible that one of these may be deemed worthy of overturning the verdict by New York’s First Judicial Department appellate court. But make no mistake, none of these issues are genuinely constitutive elements of Trump’s guilt. The facts, and Pecker’s testimony remain the same. These arguments are mere loopholes to once again keep that slithering snake free from accountability for his crimes.

The problem is that his rhetoric seems to be working. Recent polls show little movement in the presidential race following Trump’s conviction, and 34% of his supporters say that the verdict has left them “more willing” to cast a vote for Trump in November. I never imagined that we would be sitting here discussing the possibility of a convicted felon taking over the White House, but as truly frightening as the prospect of another Trump term as President is, one in which he has promised to go “scorched Earth” on all of his political adversaries, what might be even more disconcerting is his undermining of the very system of justice this country was founded upon.

Despite how outlandish Trump’s claims may be, his rhetoric is resonating with a disturbing demographic of the American populace. We have seen this game plan work before: Every time Trump loses, he claims the outcome was “rigged”, sabotaging the democratic institutions that actually make America great. You would think that these poor folks would eventually wake up and smell the horse shit, but Trump keeps on shoveling and they keep on swallowing. I’ve even seen some folks comparing Trump to Christ, suggesting that Jesus was also falsely persecuted. Ok, but I don’t remember Jesus falsifying business records to cover up the time he screwed a porn star while his wife was pregnant.

In the end, it remains to be seen if our democratic institutions can withstand this onslaught of the truth and legitimate democratic processes. Every time Trump, and this new breed of MAGA Republicans, lose an election or get indicted for crimes they commit, they falsely turn to the whole “It was rigged” excuse, undermining the legitimacy of our elections and systems of justice. The result is an undercurrent of skepticism and fear that can only serve to sow further division in an already fractured nation.

But Trump doesn’t care. He’ll just fundraise over his perceived persecution, racking up the funds that will help him become President so that he can pardon himself from all of the other crimes he has committed.

 

Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works.  Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com

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