Friday Talking Points -- Will No One Rid Trump Of This Meddlesome D.A.?

[ Posted Friday, March 24th, 2023 – 18:01 UTC ]

On one of the last days of the year 1170, an English king seems to have begun a long tradition of what might now be known as "mobspeak." Like unto a mobster capo who is cautious about saying or ordering his minions to do specific things which he might later be found guilty of, King Henry II -- speaking about a man who was a powerful rival at the time, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket -- uttered the ultimate in "deniability" to his knights. The wording is in doubt, since this all happened a very long time ago, but the most common phrasing known today is: "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" We personally prefer the version that calls him a "meddlesome priest" instead, just for the Scooby Doo vibe, but the only account written by a contemporary of Henry worded it (in Latin): "What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric!" This version, we feel -- with only slight modernizations of the language -- could easily have been uttered by Donald Trump. It includes shaming his own followers ("miserable drones and traitors") for being insufficiently loyal and fervent in his defense, a personal playground insult to the object of his wrath ("low-born cleric"), as well as overdramatizing his own victimhood ("treated with such shameful contempt"). The whole statement is downright Trumpian, when you think of it.

What happened next, back in the 12th century, was that four of Henry's knights hied thither to Canterbury Cathedral and duly hacked the archbishop to death. Becket later achieved sainthood as a martyr to Christianity. But Henry was able to stay king and while he didn't have the four knights (who fled to Scotland) arrested, he did later ignore them when they begged him for help. Sound familiar?

We were reminded of this historical murder by two things this week. The first was when it was featured in a "Final Jeopardy" clue/answer on Jeopardy!, and the second was Donald Trump's creation and manipulation of a media blitz that reminded every Republican politician still standing that Trump's own wrath still demands absolute personal loyalty to him in all things -- whether he spells out exactly what he wants done or just hints obliquely at it.

Last weekend, Trump warned his followers that the vague stories in the media were actually true and that he would be arrested on Tuesday after being indicted by a New York grand jury investigating the hush money payoff to adult film star Stormy Daniels. This was the underlying crime which has already sent Michael Cohen to prison, just to remind everyone. But Trump actually had no special inside information; Tuesday came and went with Trump still walking around a free (and unindicted) man, so for the rest of the week the media played the Waiting For Godot game and breathlessly reported on all the developments in the case -- which amounted to absolutely nothing happening.

During this whole period, Trump was far from silent. He has been calling on his supporters to "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!" and "TAKE OUR NATION BACK!" and "SAVE AMERICA!" in increasingly apocalyptic language, winking and nodding at possible violence throughout. Here is but one example of the language Trump has been using towards the D.A. in the case:

What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime [sic], when it is known by all that NO Crime [sic] has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country [sic]? Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely [sic] hates the USA!

Trump also called District Attorney Alvin Bragg "racist" (Bragg is Black), "CORRUPT & HIGHLY POLITICAL", "CARRYING OUT THE PLANS OF THE RADICAL LEFT LUNATICS", and "HUMAN SCUM!" For good measure, Trump shared an article from a radical rightwing media source that showed a photo of Trump wielding (badly) a baseball bat next to a photo of Bragg's head.

In other words, it is the run-up to January 6th all over again, on steroids. Trump is all but openly calling for violence, sneering in one message: "OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!" He is directly attempting to obstruct the course of justice with threats of violent mobs. And throughout it all, he weaves his usual mobspeak deniability so he can feign innocence later on, in the aftermath of whatever he stirs up (although even threatening a prosecutor is a crime in and of itself). All that remains to be seen is whether his predictions of what would amount to mob justice actually come true or not. How many will answer his call to "rid me of this meddlesome D.A.?" Only time will tell....

Some Republicans reacted to the initial calls for "PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!" with varying degrees of caution. Kevin McCarthy kinda-sorta called for calm. Marjorie Taylor Greene told people not to protest. But most Republicans either immediately backed Trump's basic claim of it all being an unfair witch-hunt or circled around to this position eventually. Even all his rivals for the Republican nomination kowtowed to Trump on this basic point, although the most prominent did (eventually, after a delay of days) use the opportunity to take a potshot or two at Trump. Ron DeSantis said to reporters: "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." He did an interview later in the week where he was asked about the juvenile names Trump has been calling him, and DeSantis was even more pointed: "I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner, because that's what we've been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level."

But minor sniping aside, virtually the entire Republican Party rallied once more around Donald Trump's increasingly-shaky legal position. Trump proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that while the New York D.A. might not be afraid of him, pretty much every Republican politician out there -- even the ones challenging him for the GOP presidential nomination -- is indeed still terrified of the influence he wields over the MAGA faithful (even the most violent among them).

Trump's pet hotheads in the House who now chair committees and subcommittees sent their own attempt at obstructing justice in the form of a letter to the New York D.A., demanding that he provide them with all the details of the investigation even though Trump has yet to be indicted. Their contempt for "law and order" is just breathtaking. By week's end, Bragg's office responded with its own letter, which essentially told the House MAGA Republicans to go pound sand. Revealing details of an ongoing investigation is against New York law, after all, which the letter explicitly pointed out.

Because he has forced us once again to write about him as a lead subject, we'll close with our usual weekly rundown of all the other legal problems Trump is still facing. While everyone is breathlessly awaiting the possible indictment in a criminal case, the civil case of E. Jean Carroll which accuses Trump of raping her is going to begin at the end of next month, which should move it to the media's center stage. A judge just ruled that the jury in the case will be kept anonymous -- which is typical in cases involving mobsters and other organized crime figures. This was granted because Trump already has a history of trying to intimidate (and have his supporters threaten) everyone involved in any legal proceeding against him.

There was actually some very quick developments in the federal case being made against Trump for his obstruction in the classified documents case, as a judge ruled that a grand jury investigating the matter could indeed call force one of Trump's lawyers to appear and answer questions about matters that normally would be covered under the attorney-client privilege, but which were ruled admissible because of the "crime-fraud exception" to the rule. This states that any lawyer who aids and abets his client in the commission of crimes is not covered by the normal privilege. The ruling was appealed on Tuesday, the appellate court told Trump to reply by midnight, and then ruled the next day that the lawyer would indeed have to appear and answer the grand jury's questions. By week's end, he had testified -- which is the speed of light, for the judicial system, we have to admit. The moral of this story: Trump is a master at delaying civil cases by endless motions and appeals, but criminal cases move a lot faster through the system.

Trump's lawyers also joined the lawyers for Mike Pence in arguing that Pence shouldn't have to answer a grand jury's questions about January 6th this week as well, so we'll have to see how long it takes for a ruling in that case (although this one may go up to the Supreme Court level before it's ultimately decided).

And in a related case to Trump -- Fox News being sued by the Dominion voting machine company -- one rat has already fled the Fox ship, and accused Fox (in her own lawsuit against them) of coaching her to give misleading testimony when deposed in the case. The Fox case is barrelling ahead and will also soon begin inside an actual courtroom, but this was an interesting development.

President Joe Biden made some news this week by seeing his first veto upheld after a House vote fell far short of the necessary two-thirds to overturn it. We wrote about the whole thing yesterday in more detail, for those interested. Biden showed once again his political instincts are good, in the tweet he sent out after vetoing the bill:

I just vetoed my first bill.

This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don't like.

Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings -- whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not.

That's some pretty good framing, we have to admit. As was Biden staking out another position Democrats have been attacked previously over:

On Wednesday, deputy press secretary Andrew Bates released a memo touting Biden's "new, historic actions in the fight against violent crime, continuing to lead on a life and death issue that the American people demand be addressed." Bates continued, "As President Biden has warned, the Freedom Caucus plan would defund the police by cutting 20% of federal funding for law enforcement, assuming their proposed cuts are spread evenly." The White House does not hesitate to remind voters that "a slew of MAGA congressional Republicans advocate for abolishing the FBI and the ATF" and that "Republicans in Congress, joined by the Trump Administration, have spent years trying to defund the police by slashing funding for the COPS program -- a key way the federal government supports state and local law enforcement."

. . .

Biden has already begun to deploy budget comparisons to ding Republicans for phony populism. He wasted little time slamming them for their bill to eliminate funding increases for the Internal Revenue Service, which will step up enforcements against tax cheats. "My law to help crack down on big corporations who are cheating on their taxes will help level the playing field for our small businesses, which is part of why it has been so disappointing to see House Republicans make protecting wealthy tax cheats their top legislative priority," he tweeted in January.

Biden also ripped into Republicans during an event to mark what might be called "B.F.D. Day." It was the 13th anniversary of not just the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it was also the anniversary of then-Vice President Biden being caught on a hot mic telling President Barack Obama what a B.F.D. it was. [And no, we're not going to write it out, look it up yourself if you don't remember of what we speak.]

For good measure, Biden also announced the creation of two brand-new National Monuments, surrounding Spirit Mountain in Nevada and the Castner Range in Texas.

In other political news, some actual bipartisanship was shown in a congressional hearing this week as the leader of the company that owns Tik Tok was grilled mercilessly from both sides of the aisle. Some are predicting that Tik Tok will actually be banned for use in the United States, but personally we doubt it'll come to that -- since any politician who votes for such a ban can pretty much kiss the "youth vote" goodbye forever.

In more partisan fashion, the House passed a bill on education that has already been declared dead on arrival over in the Senate. Doubtlessly, this will be only the first such "messaging bill" from the GOP-controlled House, which are mostly used as fodder for campaign ads.

Republicans are fast becoming known as "the pro-child labor party," it seems, as they work diligently to roll back rules on the exploitation of children. Wonder what happened to all their "Oh, won't someone think of the children!" crocodile tears, eh?

The Michigan Republican Party is seemingly in a race with Arizona's GOP to see which can win the "craziest state Republican Party in the country" award. Michigan now has a government controlled by Democrats, while the Republicans were taken over by the MAGA-iest of the MAGA. They put out a message on Democrats' modest gun safety legislation which went straight to the "Nazis took everyone's guns away when they launched the Holocaust!" messaging. Ball's in your court, AZ GOP!

And finally, a few amusing notes to close on. A school principal in Florida was forced out of her job because a lesson on Renaissance art included the image of Michelangelo's David, which (gasp!) shows full-frontal male nudity. We mention this not just as an example of the war on teaching in Florida, but also because The Simpsons dealt with this very issue (over the same statue) over 30 years ago. Once again (to make a second cartoon reference), "Simpsons already did it!" turns out to be true.

Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on The Daily Show this week and made a bet with guest host Al Franken (a former senator himself) over whether Donald Trump will win in 2024. Graham bet 20 bucks that he will.

And the Supreme Court just heard a case that they can really (sorry) sink their teeth into, which concerned a spoof of a Jack Daniel's bottle in the form of a dog's chew toy. The "Bad Spaniels" ripoff toy, instead of proclaiming: "Old No. 7 brand Tennessee sour mash whiskey" has the following on its label: "The old No. 2 on your Tennessee carpet."

The case will have far-reaching consequences for the preservation of copyrights, but it certainly was the most amusing story of the week!


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries coined a new term this week which earns him at least an Honorable Mention. The Republican committee dedicated to "weaponizing the federal government"... oh, excuse us... dedicated to investigating the "weaponization of the federal government" (how could we have gotten confused about that?) was the subject of Hakeem's creativity:

It's "really more appropriately named the 'committee to protect insurrectionists,'" Jeffries said.

He added: "Instead of the House majority focusing on the economy, they continue to peddle conspiracy theories led by this so-called weaponization committee and the oversight committee, as opposed to trying to find common ground with House Democrats to try to make life better for everyday Americans. But we're going to continue to put people over politics."

We still prefer an earlier neologism, and will continue to call it the "Tinfoil Hat Committee," but we have to applaud Jeffries for his effort in this creative field as well.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week goes to two incredible women in the Nebraska state legislature. Nebraska's legislature is a trivia answer, because it is the only one in the country with a unicameral single-house body. Which, incidentally, allows for filibusters.

So state Senator Machaela Cavanaugh decided to (as she put it) "burn the legislative session to the ground" by endlessly filibustering the bill she strongly objected to, which would ban gender therapy for transgender youth.

Nebraska's lawmakers only meet for 90 days a year, so by gumming up the works, Cavanaugh has brought the state's legislature to an absolute halt. They haven't passed a single bill yet. HuffPost has the most in-depth report we've read on how this is all progressing:

The following day, Cavanaugh gave what would quickly become a viral speech promising to use every available tool to "inflict pain upon this body," referring to the Nebraska Legislature. It would launch what is now a multi-week filibuster over Legislative Bill 574, a proposal to outlaw gender-affirming care, specifically surgery and hormonal therapies, for minors. The legislature's rules have allowed Cavanaugh, a Democrat, to essentially bring its 2023 session to a standstill over her opposition to LB574, using what has become a valuable bargaining tool for members of the Democratic minority.

Here's a video of excerpts from that speech, for those interested.

Cavanaugh is not alone, either. State Senator Megan Hunt has a transgendered son, so she is directly and very personally impacted by the bill. And she has pledged to filibuster not just the anti-transgender bill but all bills that come up, on any subject. And she sounds pretty adamant about this:

"We have made it clear that this is the line in the sand," Hunt told lawmakers Thursday.

"People have said, 'What if we go after your bills? What if we put a bunch of bills introduced by progressives up on the agenda? Are you going to filibuster those, too?' Yes, because we're not like you. We have a principle and a value that actually matters that much to us that we're willing to stand up for."

Hunt addressed concerns over whether pushback against the bill sets a precedent and called out Nebraska Sen. R. Brad von Gillern (R) by name, telling him, "You really don't get it."

"You've crossed a line and you've gone too far," Hunt added.

"Don't say hi to me in the hall, don't ask me how my weekend was, don't walk by my desk and ask me anything. Don't send me Christmas cards -- take me off the list.... No one in the world holds a grudge like me, and no one in the world cares less about being petty than me. I don't care. I don't like you."

The effort might fail, it should be noted. The bill may pass, and the governor has signalled his support. But in taking such a brave and unforgiving stance, these two women are doing everything in their power to protect the civil and human rights of children. Which is why they both deserve this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Nebraska state Senators Machaela Cavanaugh on her official contact page, and Megan Hunt on her official contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

A handful of Democrats either voted with the Republicans on the initial bill that President Biden vetoed this week or actually voted to overturn his veto, but since it was upheld we're going to just ignore them.

And she doesn't technically qualify for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, no longer being a Democrat, so we're instead going to give Senator Kyrsten Sinema a Most Disappointing Former Democrat Of The Week award instead.

Here's why:

As she races to stockpile campaign money and post an impressive, statement-making first-quarter fundraising number, [Senator Kyrsten] Sinema has used a series of Republican-dominated receptions and retreats this year to belittle her Democratic colleagues, shower her GOP allies with praise and, in one case, quite literally give the middle finger to President Joe Biden's White House.

And that's before an audience.

Speaking in private, whether one-on-one or with small groups of Republican senators, she's even more cutting, particularly about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, whom she derides in harshly critical terms, according to senior Republican officials directly familiar with her comments.

Sinema's sniping spree has delighted the Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and donors who've taken in the show, giving some of them hope that she can be convinced to caucus with the GOP, either in this Congress or in the case she's reelected as an independent.

. . .

Some of Sinema's friends believe she'll retire rather than risk losing. To borrow the old line about the Clintons, after her taste of high finance on the fundraising circuit, she's become like the Episcopal priest in the humble rectory who was surrounded by money in his pews and wanted a cut. (Her appetites for luxury hotels, car services and charter flights, as laid out in her campaign finance reports, are ample.)

. . .

"Those lunches were ridiculous," she told a small group of Republican lobbyists at a reception in Washington this year in explaining why she had stopped attending her caucus' weekly luncheons in the Capitol, according to an attendee.

First off, she explained, she was no longer a Democrat. "I'm not caucusing with the Democrats, I'm formally aligned with the Democrats for committee purposes," Sinema said. "But apart from that I am not a part of the caucus."

Then she let loose.

"Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are," Sinema recounted to gales of laughter. "I don't really need to be there for that. That's an hour and a half twice a week that I can get back."

Now she was rolling.

"The Northerners and the Westerners put Cool Whip on their Jell-O," she shared, "and the Southerners put cottage cheese."

Cue the groans.

Turning more serious, but continuing to dismiss her colleagues, Sinema boasted that she had better uses of her time than "those dumb lunches," which the windiest lawmakers can drag out but are also used to discuss substance and strategy.

"I spend my days doing productive work, which is why I've been able to lead every bipartisan vote that's happened the last two years," she said.

It was the sort of comment that reminded me of what one of her Democratic colleagues, a confirmed moderate, told me in private earlier this year about Sinema: "She's the biggest egomaniac in the Senate."

We find it hard to disagree with that final statement.

Which is why we had to single her out this week. Just for old times' sake, as it were.

[Contact Senator Kyrsten Sinema on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 699 (3/24/23)

As we said, we do hate when this happens, but the Trump calls for "PROTEST!!!" this week were worthy of an entire segment of talking points. Trump needs some strong pushback for what he's been advocating, what he's been intimating, what he's been winking and nodding at, and just all the rest of it.

Because (as our first talking point points out) if he's allowed to skate free on everything he's said this week, he's just going to keep right on doing so. So here's our attempt to head this all off at the pass now, instead of later.


   This is why we can't "move on" from it all

This is the core point, and it should be hammered home. Because Trump is going to do this over and over again, with each new legal setback.

"You know what? This is the answer to all those Republicans who have been urging everyone to just 'move on' from the January 6th incitement to insurrection from Donald Trump. Because this is precisely why we cannot just 'move on' from it. Donald Trump is going to run the same playbook he did back then -- issuing barely-disguised calls for his supporters to commit political violence in his name -- over and over again. He is going to keep right on doing this as long as it works to any degree among his most fervent MAGA supporters. As long as Donald Trump thinks he can get away with using violence as a political bludgeon, he is going to continue to do so. So, no, we can't all just 'move on' from this profanement of the American system of government. Because there should indeed be punishments for directly attacking it or urging others to violently do so on your behalf."


   Do you support mob violence and intimidation or not?

Just askin', mind you....

"You know what? Every single Republican politician should be asked by every single journalist interviewing them a very basic question: 'Do you support calls for mob violence to attack a prosecutor or not?' That used to be an unthinkable question to even ask, but that was in the pre-Trump times. Now it must be explicitly asked, because far too many Republicans are complicit in their silence. If they can't even denounce calls for what would amount to mob rule, then they have failed to uphold their oath of office to the United States Constitution, plain and simple. So yeah, if I were you, that's the first thing I would ask each and every one of them."


   He's going to get someone killed

Democrats, of course, strongly reacted to all of Trump's incitement. Here is what House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries had to say about it all:

The twice-impeached former president's rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It's dangerous. And if he keeps it up, he's going to get someone killed. We've already seen the consequences of incitement from the former president. He is principally responsible for inciting the violent insurrection that happened on January 6th, but clearly he has not learned his lesson.


   A bullhorn of bile

A group of civil rights leaders in New York (including Al Sharpton and a former governor) reacted with their own outrage:

This disgraceful attack is not a dog whistle but a bullhorn of incendiary racist and antisemitic bile, spewed out for the sole purpose of intimidating and sabotaging a lawful, legitimate, fact-based investigation. These ugly, hateful attacks on our judicial system must be universally condemned.


   Blaring air horn

As with many Trumpian things, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

"Donald Trump is going to hold his first political rally for his re-election campaign this weekend -- after waiting over four months to hold any such rally -- in Waco, Texas. On the 30th anniversary of the Branch Davidian siege. This is a clear signal to the most extreme of the extreme on the right that Trump is one of them now. He could not be more clear about his support for attacking and killing federal officers, folks. The Houston Chronicle probably put it best -- this isn't a 'dog whistle,' it is instead the 'blaring air horn of a Mack 18-wheeler.' Trump is stoking violence against the government by his choice of date and site. It's as plain as the nose on your face."


   What if Bubba had done it?

We forget where we saw this point being made this week so sadly we are not able to give credit where credit is due, but we did feel it was a good point to make.

"For all those Republicans who are pooh-poohing the heart of what Donald Trump might be indicted for -- as Ron DeSantis so memorably put it: 'paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence' -- let me ask you a simple question. Would you have been equally dismissive if President Bill Clinton had, at one point in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, been found to have made a $130,000 hush-money payment to anyone and then tried to write it off on his taxes as legal expenses? What would you have said then, eh?"


   What'd I miss?

This is going to be a good all-around talking point pretty much all year long, most likely.

"I'm sorry, it's really getting hard to keep them all straight when discussing Trump's various legal woes. Are we talking about the porn star hush money? Or tax evasion? Or incitement to riot and leading an insurrection? Or election fraud and/or tampering with an election? Witness tampering? Blatantly ignoring and lying about federal subpoenas? Mishandling of highly-classified documents? Rape? Or maybe it's one of the multiple cases of obstruction of justice? I'm sorry for not keeping up, and I'm really sorry if I've forgotten any... but it's really tough to keep them all straight."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


4 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Will No One Rid Trump Of This Meddlesome D.A.?”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I for one would like to know more about Hunter Biden's laptop. Maybe it contains Hillary's emails.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, I am told that DoJ has enough to indict Hunter Biden so, we will see.

    As for Team Hillary and missing emails ... the thumbnail that her office sent to another office through the regular mail never got to its destination. Hmmm ...

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, in other news, Biden made a great speech in Ottawa on Friday. He loves us! Yeah, he really loves us!!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In the wake of the revelations about Fox News management and anchors hiding their true feelings about Trump from their viewers, something has dawned on me that the obsession with Trump seems to have missed.

    Trump isn't the problem anymore. It has become inordinately bigger than the man, himself. The MAGA mob Trump has created is now large and in charge and doesn't need Trump anymore. The monster he helped create is no longer in his control. It's not in anyone's control. In fact, it is out of control.

    And, THAT is a scary prospect.

    Trump's legal woes are little more than an amusing side show.

Comments for this article are closed.