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Arrestmas Is Coming?

[ Posted Monday, March 20th, 2023 – 16:40 UTC ]

First, there was the rather-disappointing Muellermas. Now, millions of Americans are waiting (and tweeting about) the impending "Arrestmas." For those using the hashtag, their schadenfreude is off the charts. Which is completely understandable, since people have been waiting for over two years since Donald Trump left office for him to face any sort of legal comeuppance whatsoever. And what seems like the first indictment out of the chute is the most minor, in terms of legal consequence and criminal culpability. Still... we may see Trump in a "perp walk" this week, and at this point, who doesn't want to see Trump in handcuffs... or at the very least, see his mug shot?

Trump himself is openly calling on his supporters to "protest" if he is arrested, which (as we all now know) can be a thinly-veiled call for political violence -- just like it was on January 6th. Once again he's warning that we all "won't have a nation left" if he is ever brought to justice for any of his possible crimes. He's telling his supporters to "take back" the country. And we've all seen what that sort of provocation can lead to, right? This is all part and parcel of Trump's usual response to any adverse news. His answer for it all is: attack, attack, attack. Never admit guilt over anything, no matter how red your hands were when you were caught. Personally attack those who are trying to hold Trump accountable. Call the whole thing "racism" and "politically-motivated" and "a witch-hunt." Rinse and repeat.

His fellow Republicans are mostly singing from Trump's songbook, although at least a few of them are warning that outright violence would actually be a bad thing. But even the people who are either officially or unofficially running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination have all bought in (in one way or another) to Trump proclaiming himself the victim of political persecution.

It bears mentioning that all of the Republicans who are doing so are doing so without having seen one tiny shred of the evidence that the New York grand jury has seen. If the grand jury does (as expected) indict Trump over the hush money he paid to Stormy Daniels, we'll eventually all get to see this evidence in a courtroom. Trump, of course, wants to cement public opinion about the case long before that happens, though. And he's a master at such public manipulation, you have to admit.

It's also rather hilarious to see Trump whip his supporters into a frenzy over the supposed politicization of the administration of justice when he began his political career encouraging his crowds to chant: "Lock her up!" -- over the supposed "crimes" committed by his opponent Hillary Clinton. But being blind, deaf, and dumb to irony is part of the whole MAGAverse. Consistency has never been their strong suit.

My take (at this early juncture) is that Trump might actually succeed in convincing a large part of the public that the Stormy Daniels case isn't all that big a deal in the grand scheme of things -- but also that what has been teed up next is going to a be a lot more consequential. Because at some point before the end of April, another criminal grand jury may just indict Trump (and a whole bunch of his cronies) for much more serious crimes. Trump may be charged with not only attempting to interfere in the election process in Georgia in the 2020 election, but the prosecutor may actually use the state's RICO-type law (from the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, which was passed to fight organized crime groups such as the Mafia) in what charges she chooses to bring. That is going to be a much bigger deal, obviously. And this may be the easiest case to make against Trump in the court of public opinion, since we've all heard the tape -- of at least one of the phone calls made to high-ranking Georgia officials by Trump (the grand jury has heard more than one of these tapes, it has been reported). He sounds exactly like a mobster in this tape, and his statement: "I just want to find 11,780 votes" is pretty obvious prima facie evidence of election tampering and interference.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party is trying to walk the Trump tightrope once again. GOP politicians are terrified of the wrath of Trump's base voters, so they are either fully supporting Trump's calls for "protests" or just supporting him framing the whole thing as some sort of politicized witch-hunt. Kevin McCarthy is twisting in the Trumpian wind, to put this another way, trying to come down solidly on every side of the issue at once. McCarthy reinforced Trump's "witch-hunt" call (saying the New York prosecutor is "abusing his office" and trying to "subvert our democracy") and already House committees are planning on a politicized counterattack against the prosecutor (despite Congress and the federal government having nothing whatsoever to do with a local district attorney). But at the same time, McCarthy is bizarrely insisting that not only is Trump not calling for his protesters to use violence (which a lot of other Republicans are also attempting to say), but that Trump isn't even really calling for any protests at all. No, really -- that's McCarthy's actual position:

I don't think people should protest this, no. I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn't believe in that either. I think the thing that you may misinterpret when President Trump talks, when someone says that they can protest, he'd probably be referring to my tweet, "educate people about what’s going on." He's not talking in a harmful way. And nobody should.

Trump, of course, couldn't have been clearer, posting a rant on his pet social media platform which ended with: "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!" McCarthy's position that Trump "doesn't believe" that people should protest is either completely delusional or hilariously inept gaslighting (take your pick) on the face of it.

But the most amusing tightrope-walking comes from all the presidential wannabes who are challenging Trump for the GOP nomination. They're all trying to feed into Trump's insistence that this is all politicized persecution, but without crossing the line into amplifying Trump's provocation of his own most fervent followers. You have to wonder how any of these people are going to convince voters that they're tough enough to take on dictators and strongmen as president if they can't even stand up to Donald Trump, but that's a subject for another day.

The hardest tightrope to walk right now is the one Ron DeSantis is attempting. DeSantis took a while to respond, which earned him some ire from MAGAland, as he considered how to handle it all. DeSantis, of course, is not just a presidential hopeful, he is also governor of Florida, where Trump lives. Since the New York indictment is state-level, this would mean an extradition request might have to be made between the two states. DeSantis doesn't really have clear power to outright block or defy any such extradition, but Trump might not care (just ask Mike Pence).

DeSantis, so far, seems to be attempting a similar playbook as the one Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin used to get himself elected -- which consists of mostly ignoring Trump personally, but at the same time giving a wink and nod to his agenda. DeSantis is giving a whole lot more than just a wink and a nod to MAGA (in all his "fighting the woke" actions he's taken as governor), but in the presidential campaign DeSantis has mostly ignored all the insults from Trump and hasn't really taken him on in any meaningful way. Which is why it was amusing to see the reaction DeSantis came up with -- a not-so-subtle dig at all of Trump's voluminous baggage: "I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I can't speak to that."

Extradition is one thing, and it may never even arise as an issue if Trump voluntarily turns himself in (as he has so far been reported to be planning on doing). But the possible tightrope another Republican governor might soon be forced to walk is a lot more dicey. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp might be put in the position of being able to end any prosecution of Trump for election interference from Fulton County, by granting Trump a pardon. The pressure from the MAGAverse will be intense if Trump is indicted in Georgia, but then again Kemp hates Trump. Kemp was one of the guys on the other end of those phone calls from Trump in the first place. And he refused to lift a finger to help Trump subvert the Georgia election. So that showdown is going to be even more personal, if and when it happens.

It is very disturbing to realize throughout all of this that there's a large segment of the Republican electorate that thinks that Donald Trump should be able to do whatever he pleases, break any law he wishes, and never be held accountable. That we are even talking about mobs of Trump supporters possibly assaulting law enforcement officers again is a sad commentary as to where we are as a country. Donald Trump rarely spoke the truth, and when he did a lot of times it was merely accidental, but one of the truest things he ever said was: "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay?"

One would like to think that this isn't going to prove to be completely true, of course. Paying hush money to what Ron DeSantis calls "a porn star" and then Trump fudging the books so he can write it off on his taxes is one thing, but the other cases still pending are a lot more serious -- including any possible federal charges over the January 6th insurrection attempt and that huge pile of classified documents Trump insisted on keeping at his home (even after being subpoenaed for them). At some point during all of the legal woes Trump faces, you have to wonder if at least some segment of Trump's supporters finally decide he's got too much baggage to win and (in sorrow more than anger) decide to back someone else for 2024. But then again, you never know.

Arrestmas is coming, it seems. It could be tomorrow, it could be later in the week, it could even come next week. But for the first time Donald Trump is going to face not just a civil trial but actual criminal charges. And it seems like we'll be talking about this indictment later on as "the first of many." It will be unprecedented for a former president to be arrested and booked. Once again, Donald Trump is sailing into uncharted waters in American politics. Will he have to deal with multiple criminal trials while he's simultaneously running for president? How will that affect his chances? Nobody knows, at this point, but it sure does seem like it's setting up to be a rather wild ride.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


27 Comments on “Arrestmas Is Coming?”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trump is a dangerous distraction. It seems like someone should be writing a book entitled, 'While America Was Obsessing Over Trump...'

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    dangerous, yes. distraction, also yes. but donald and his personal impact on american politics are just as dangerous as anything they're distracting from.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    only if you choose not to look at what is happening beyond your national borders to America's place in the world.

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    I wonder if you could comment, if not now then at some point, on the Democrats' seeming silence in the face of the Republican massed outrage over this coming indictment?

    I keep waiting for someone to point out, as you did, that a District Attorney does not indict rich and powerful men for cheating on their taxes or violating campaign reporting laws, unless they are certain they have the evidence to support the charge.

    I also keep waiting for more Democratic pushback, such as you gave, to the Republicans' claims that a president simply cannot break a law - that any prosecution of a former president must be political because it is existentially impossible that the former president did anything illegal.

    Now, I grant that the Democrats may think they are keeping their powder dry, as it were, rather than start to argue back based on mere rumors of an indictment. And one can argue as well that all the GOP nonsense you've reported in your column was aimed at, and consumed by, Trump's base which is never going to listen to what Democrats say in any case.

    But the media goes to where there's someone saying something. If the side of reason and respect for law isn't saying anything, all the country will hear this week is that reason means nothing and the law is whatever I want it to be. Can't someone, anyone, argue on the national stage that a rumored indictment might actually be the rule of law coming into action - that the person accused might not only be *not guilty* by presumption of innocence, he might well actually be *guilty* by incontrovertible evidence possessed by the prosecution?

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    if donald's ipact were restricted to our own country's borders, he wouldn't be so dangerous. the greatest danger isn't something he's distracting from, it's something he represents in plain sight.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My point is that the problems America faces in the world have little to do with Trump.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For example, what lessons do you think have been learned in the 20 years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq?

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I actually tapped out that [7] with a straight face!

    I guess I still believe in the promise of America. :)

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    lesson 1: however low we think we've fallen, there's always somewhere lower.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Let me rephrase that ... however low Americans may think they've fallen, there is always somewhere else that they have caused to fall lower.

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    no, that's canada's fault. ;p

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    I see your point but “keeping their powder dry” and not “arguing against mere rumors of an indictment” is absolutely the tried-and-proven right approach. Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War that when your opponent is destroying himself get out of his way.

    You’ll recall that while Trump was botching Covid #BasementBiden simply let the man hang himself and motivated 81 million voters to vote for #JoeBleepingBiden.

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I check out the comments section of OAN and Newsmax. The trolls are well represented and often hilarious.

    One wrote about a possible sea of MAGA hatted protesters outside the DA’s office in New York,

    Gotta have the red hats.

    You can't spell HATRED without RED HAT.

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    only if you choose not to look at what is happening beyond your national borders to America's place in the world.

    I’m your huckleberry…and this huckleberry says that America’s place in the world is hunky dory — especially since the nightmare of Trump embarrassing us is now two years past. Our economy is growing jobs by the millions and we’re in the middle of the pack regarding inflation Joe couldn’t stop Rooskie irredentism (naked imperialism) but has done a magnificent job of uniting the West in support of Ukraine. We’re not in Afghanistan anymore because Joe had the courage to keep Trump’s agreement to leave. It wasn’t a fiasco — we evacuated 6,000 Americans and 124,000 Afghani allies. The 13 casualties sucked but who thinks that that wasn’t inevitable, that the Taliban wouldn’t take a parting shot ant us. And Biden’s America doesn’t kiss dictator’s asses like Trump.

    By any measure America is baaack!

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    News flash!

    'The West' ain't the world.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Afghanistan evacuation doesn't even make the long list of reasons why America is in decline.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I wouldn't even waste time on lessons learned from it.

  19. [19] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    It's as if the whole GQP hasn't been chanting "Lock her up!" for 7 years.

  20. [20] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    It's high time that you found
    The same people you walk on on your way up
    You might meet up on your way down

    On Your Way Down

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    So why don’t you humor me with whatever reason(s) you think this?

    If you’re not going to do ANY better than, for example, saying stupid shit which about Joe and Ukraine, don’t waste your time. You can be every bit as useless at defending your views as Don and Michale were. Or you can be serious.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    You know how Biden is always talking about the new world order? How's that working out for him?

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq is near or at the top of the list. You know who won that war, right? Yes, Iran! Which, if the neo-cons had bothered to think it through, was a predictable result. Especially since Biden's plan Re. US Iraq policy (2005-07) was so completely sabotaged.

    Another reason is how China and Asean countries along with the Global South are forming their own version of the new world order while America frets about Trump, Trumpism and related domestic impacts. Russia, too - see the days long visit of Xi to Moscow.

    Speaking of China ... how about their new role as peacemaker in the Middle East. Hmmm ...

    The apparently limitless push for expansion of NATO is also near the top of the list of reasons for ultimate decline ... or annihilation.

    The reliance on the use of economic sanctions as the tool to solve all issues, regardless of the efficacy or, indeed, of the consequences.

    Ignoring the concerns of the Global South and then expecting these countries to tow the line when the West needs something.

    It has been a very long time since America has been able to claim global leadership status. It has a lot of ground work to do before it can again.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, alas, this is a blog about American domestic politics, so ...

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Must you always be so damned cranky?

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:


    Still... we may see Trump in a "perp walk" this week, and at this point, who doesn't want to see Trump in handcuffs... or at the very least, see his mug shot?

    Trump and the totally hypocritical bleating sheeple Righty rubes who apparently have memory holed all their own chants of "lock her up" and Trump's repetitive promises to have his political opponents investigated.

    Bit of advice for right-wingnut rubes:

    * Be careful what you wish for.

    * You reap what you sow.

  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:


    Georgia Governor Brian Kemp might be put in the position of being able to end any prosecution of Trump for election interference from Fulton County, by granting Trump a pardon.

    If you'd read the comments section of your own blog, you'd already know that the Governor of Georgia cannot grant pardons.

    I can 'splain it again:

    The power to pardon and to remove disabilities is vested in the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. The governor is expressly precluded from exercising power over of granting of pardons or paroles. Ga. Code Ann. Section 42-9-56.

    So there's still that. :)

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    John From Censornati

    It's as if the whole GQP hasn't been chanting "Lock her up!" for 7 years.

    Exactly! :)

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