(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
On some Formula One weekends there are two races, on Saturday a sprint race, depending on the length of the track usually between 20 and 25 laps, and on Sunday the regular race of between 50 and 80 laps. In his increasingly scarce lucid moments Donald Trump must be looking at the 2024 election the way a Formula One driver looks at a sprint weekend: winning the Republican nomination is the shorter race, which will be decided in the spring, and beating Joe Biden in the general election is the long race in the fall, which can bring him back into the White House for the rest of his life – at least that’s how he sees it. Both races can be interrupted for various reasons: a torrential downpour can force the cars back into the pits, but far more often a crash or a stalled race-car partially blocking the track will bring out a safety car and force the drivers to remain in position and move slowly until the all clear has been given. After a crash all debris will be removed from the track and a stalled car will be moved to the pits before the race is resumed, but for Trump all obstacles remain in place.
Stalled cars are the four criminal indictments he’s facing: the J6 corrupt obstruction of an official government proceeding case, the Mar-a-Lago stolen classified documents case, the Fulton County (GA) racketeering case and the Manhattan falsified business records case. The J6 case will probably first stall on Trump’s track, still during the sprint race towards the GOP nomination. It won’t keep Trump from winning that race but it will slow his momentum through the longer race towards the presidency. The next stalls will be the documents and racketeering cases, and with the J6 case still on the track there will be precious little room left for Trump to maneuver. That remaining space will be reduced even further by the business records case, also known as the ‘porn star pay-off,’ and all over the track will be the debris from the civil cases Trump is facing simultaneously: another financial fraud case filed by the New York AG and a defamation case filed by the writer E. Jean Caroll, who was raped by Trump and already won her case once but could add on to it because he kept insulting her
A significant part of the debris on Trump’s track comes out of his mouth or from posts on his media company’s platform. The Former Guy has already declared that the US Constitution has to be abolished and signaled that he would rule like a fascist dictator, and with every interview he makes things worse. On ‘Meet the Press’ he acknowledged that he alone made the decision to declare the 2020 election rigged and start the fraudulent process in multiple states to overturn it, denying himself the defense that he acted upon his lawyers’ advice. On the same and other shows he keeps arguing that according to the Presidential Records Act he had every right to take and keep classified documents. One of his employees testified that he ordered subpoenaed recordings of the moving of the boxes deleted, and he told his female assistant to ‘not know’ anything about the documents, a clear case of witness tampering.
The flow of debris coming from Trump may be halted by a limited gag order from the Judge in the J6 case, requested by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who must be tired of being called a ‘deranged fascist’ by a deranged fascist. The order would prohibit Trump from intimidating Judges, Prosecutors and Jurors and polluting the jury pool by commenting on the case. If Trump doesn’t comply, which is likely because his social media postings are becoming more rabiate by the day – in a recent post he demanded the execution of the Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley because he talked to the Chinese about Trump’s whims – the Judge can have him locked up or move up the day of his court case as a legal punishment, bringing this stall onto the track earlier. Additional debris may come from court cases in various states attempting to disqualify Trump as a candidate for the 2024 election.
Those cases, based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, cannot successfully be argued until there is a final verdict in the J6 or the racketeering case, but they will remind the voters of Trump’s 2021 coup attempt. Trump will claim that the gag order violates his First Amendment rights, but he is allowed to campaign and speak publicly about all the ways in which he is going to make America great again, just not about the J6 case unless it is in a courtroom, which is about the last place where his lawyers want him to speak because Jack Smith would tear him to shreds. Meanwhile Trump is getting concerned about going to jail, asking his confidants if he would go to a country club or a ‘bad’ jail and if he would have Secret Service protection. Among Democrats there is some handwringing about Biden’s age but fewer worries. In the end, the slogan ‘I’m old, but he’s a crazy fascist’ should nail it.
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