Friday Talking Points -- Convicted Felon Donald Trump

[ Posted Friday, May 31st, 2024 – 17:03 UTC ]

Over the years, this column has expanded from its humble beginnings as merely offering wordsmithing advice each week for Democratic politicians to consider (on how to frame issues so they would resonate more effectively with the public). This week, however, we will have a tighter focus, as most of the column will center around one very powerful talking point indeed. Because yesterday everything quite obviously turned into a "one-issue week."

For a while, Donald Trump was known as "President Trump." Then he became (depending on your editorial whim) the "former president" or "ex-president." But the only valid title he really could claim after leaving office (former titles being no more than diplomatic politeness, really) was what one judge called him while turning down one of his numerous appeals: "Citizen Trump." Or, as the judge and the prosecution referred to him throughout his first criminal trial in New York City, merely: "Mister Trump."

But now he's got a brand-new honorific (using that word as ironically as we can, since "dishonorific" doesn't seem to be an actual word). From this point hence, he shall be known as: "Convicted Felon Donald Trump." We should point out that we added capitals there to make it a proper title, since he likes capitalizing things so much. What we really want to do is put it in bold text, however: "Convicted Felon Donald Trump." Or perhaps increase the font size, for further emphasis. However, we have to admit, using his own preferred all-caps "shouting" ("CONVICTED FELON Donald Trump") would be a stylistic bridge too far, even for us....

Snark aside, though, no Democratic politician and no journalist worth his or her salt should use Trump's name from this point forward without attaching this label. It should appear in every sentence with his name, or at the very least at the beginning of the commentary: "This morning, Convicted Felon Donald Trump played a round of golf." It matters not what the rest of the sentence says or what Trump has been doing or saying. Any reference to him at all should be prefaced by what he now is: a man convicted of 34 felony charges, awaiting sentencing for his crimes. No longer will journalists have to use the word "alleged." The jury is in. They have spoken. And so he shall from this point forward forever be known as Convicted Felon Donald Trump. He is officially a criminal now. So call him one, right to his face.

Journalists on the "straight news" side of the media may shy away from such a label, but they shouldn't. It is not editorializing, it is instead an undeniable and unchangeable fact now. Pundits and other opinion writers will probably use it or not depending on their own political bent (which is another way of saying that we don't expect to hear "convicted felon" being used much on the airwaves of Fox News).

President Joe Biden's re-election team has reportedly been rather leery of making too much political hay out of Trump's legal problems, and for good reason. Going overboard would just feed in to Trump's whiny victimhood claims. Trump rather breathtakingly paints two pictures of Biden that are rather mutually exclusive: that Biden is a mastermind pulling the strings behind all sorts of scenes, in this case personally directing all the legal cases against Trump in evil-genius fashion... or Biden is nothing but a doddering old man who (as Trump likes to put it) "can't even string two sentences together." You'd think people would wonder: "Well... which is it? Pick one or the other, it can't be both..." but the MAGA faithful don't have any problem with such doublethink when Trump tells them both things can be true at the same time.

Not commenting on the first ex-president to ever be convicted of criminal felony charges would be political malpractice for a candidate running against him for the highest office in the land. Which is why this is the perfect answer, really. Biden doesn't have to verbally spike the football and do an end-zone dance, all he really needs to do is just use those two words each and every time he refers to his opponent. "Well, I'm not sure if Convicted Felon Donald Trump is going to actually show up to debate me, we'll have to wait and see..." or maybe: "Did you hear the outrageous thing Convicted Felon Donald Trump said today?" It's not exactly subtle, but if Biden just uses the term consistently and repeatedly -- without making any further commentary on what it all means in the bigger picture -- the label will catch on. It's the ultimate payback for Trump, who slaps a playground-bully label on anyone he doesn't like (such as "Sleepy Joe" or "Crooked Joe" for Biden). Biden's label will have the benefit of being not some sort of snarky insult an 8-year-old boy would come up with, but instead 100 percent the truth.

We should all do this, from this point forward. Because Convicted Felon Donald Trump has more than earned it. It doesn't matter what sentence he gets from the judge, it doesn't matter than he won't start serving it for a long time to come (as he plays out every possible legal avenue of appeal) -- it'll still be just as true. So let's all get used to saying it, every time his name comes up. It's not Trump or Donald Trump or even "the former guy" any more. It is and forever shall be: "Convicted Felon Donald Trump."

Convicted Felon Donald Trump gave what he billed as a press conference today, but it wasn't, not really. It was merely Convicted Felon Donald Trump doing his usual schtick for half an hour, rambling from one subject to the next (as he is wont to do). We watched his performance -- well, at least until the television networks all cut away from it since all he was doing was spreading lie after lie after lie, very little of which was about his court case. He took no questions and stalked off afterwards, in front of the same Trump Tower gold-colored escalator where his first presidential run was announced (to a crowd Trump had paid to cheer for him).

From our notes, here is a loose transcript of Convicted Felon Donald Trump's remarks:

[Unhinged ranting... the world is so unfair to me... whine... moan... "Nobody's ever seen anything like it"... racist fearmongering... spleen-venting on all and sundry... Waaah! Waaah!... "I would have loved to have testified"... the judge is evil... "You saw what happened to some of the witnesses who were on our side, they were literally crucified by this man who looks like an angel but he's really the devil"... lie after lie after lie, including that "They... want to stop you having cars" as just one bizarre example... more unhinged ranting... lots and lots more racist fearmongering... incoherent nonsense... Waaah! Waaah! Waaah!]

We do admit that our notes were not exactly comprehensive, there. But that was indeed the gist of it, in toto.

Think that's too snarky? In fact, we think it was not snarky enough, so as a public service we have to compliment HuffPost for their hilarious take on one aspect of it all. They ran an article with the headline "All The GOP Lawmakers Telling Trump To Drop Out After His Felony Conviction," with a subhead that reads: "These are the Republican leaders standing up and putting country before party." The article ends with an editorial note: "(This list will be updated when the GOP statements come pouring in.)" but we'll leave it up to you to view the rest of the column yourselves. Now that's some prime, Grade-A snark, we have to admit!

Next up for Convicted Felon Donald Trump will be an interview with the New York probation office, who will be putting together a presentencing report for the judge. This interview will be interesting, to say the least, for whatever nameless official has the honor of weighing Convicted Felon Donald Trump's character and legal record. Trump will face all sorts of restrictions on his freedoms for a while, seeing as how he now is a convicted felon.

On July 11th, Convicted Felon Donald Trump will appear for a sentencing hearing, and we'll all find out what penalty he will be required to pay to society for his 34 crimes. During his unhinged rant this morning, Trump somehow came up with: "I'm supposed to go to jail for 187 years?" but in actuality the stiffest possible sentence -- if the judge truly did "throw the book" at him -- would only be 136 years (four years times 34 convictions). But realistically the absolute maximum sentence Convicted Felon Donald Trump will face will be four years -- and virtually nobody expects the judge to be that harsh (on what is, after all, a "first-time offender").

Then the appeals will begin. Convicted Felon Donald Trump will almost certainly appeal to every court in the land available to him -- all the way up the chain in the New York courts, and then all the way to the Supreme Court in the federal system. Few truly expect any of it to do Convicted Felon Donald Trump any good, but it will achieve one thing he is adept at: delaying everything to the maximum amount possible.

So it's going to be a long time before we can accurately call Convicted Felon Donald Trump either "Incarcerated Convict Donald Trump" (or maybe "Jailbird Donald Trump"?) or perhaps just "Parolee Donald Trump," but for the time being Convicted Felon Donald Trump will have to be enough.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

There simply is no other choice, this week. The Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg wasn't exactly gung-ho to bring this case. In fact, he entered office after the previous D.A. had done most of the investigating and concluded that charges should indeed be brought in the case. But Bragg held back. Even after the two lead prosecutors in the investigation actually resigned in protest when Bragg was having doubts about pursuing the case.

It became known as the "zombie case," in fact, because it had died and then been brought back to life. Eventually Convicted Felon Donald Trump was charged by Bragg in state court for falsifying business records to cover up a separate crime -- the first such criminal indictment against Convicted Felon Donald Trump that was brought, in fact.

There were plenty of legal experts who had doubts about this particular case. It was not seen as a slam-dunk court case by much of anyone. The charges were complicated, there were underlying crimes to prove that weren't being charged, the law was being applied in novel ways, there wasn't enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt -- there was all sorts of Monday-morning quarterbacking from the legal experts on television. This only increased after the more-serious charges were brought against Convicted Felon Donald Trump at the federal level and down in Georgia.

Doubts were raised once again when it became apparent that this might be the only criminal trial to take place before the 2024 election. This was seen as risky, since all it would take would be one juror to hang the jury. The whole effort might just blow up in the prosecutor's face, many warned. A hung jury -- or worse, a not-guilty verdict -- might only serve to undermine all the other felony cases against Convicted Felon Donald Trump. The whole thing was seen as risky in the extreme.

Throughout it all, Bragg remained resolute in his professional conviction (pun intended) that he could secure a criminal conviction in a courtroom. Which he did, in rather spectacular fashion. The jury deliberated for less than 10 hours -- which is lightning-fast for a case with 34 felony counts to consider. And they unanimously returned a "guilty" verdict on each and every charge.

So while we do admit that we ourselves have been frustrated with Alvin Bragg at times in the course of this investigation and prosecution, in the end he delivered. He brought a case he thought was strong enough to win, and then he did just that.

For becoming the first prosecutor to ever successfully convict a former American president of any criminal charge, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is indeed our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg via his official contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

The only other political story that even rises to the level of mentioning this week is the continuing saga of the Roberts Court sinking into the mire of corruption and disgracefully unethical behavior.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito responded this week to the outcry over insurrectionist-supporting flags being flown at his house and vacation home. Democrats had written to the high court essentially demanding that Alito recuse himself from any cases dealing with the January 6th insurrection attempt or Convicted Felon Donald Trump's own case dealing with it. This week, Alito responded with his own letter back to them. Stripped of all the posturing, it amounted to nothing more than a giant middle finger raised in the general direction of the Capitol.

Alito would not be recusing, since as he figured it nobody could ever have doubts about his impartiality. He threw his wife under the bus for the flag-flying and lamely stated that he just couldn't do anything about these flags -- flying for days and days in front of his own houses. He feels free to tell every other woman in America what she can and cannot do, but he has no power to do so over his own wife, as many pointed out.

And since as things stand the only arbiter of perceived conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court are the individual justices themselves, Alito concluded that he didn't need to recuse himself at all on any cases whatsoever.

Just to remind everyone, the Senate is controlled by Democrats. Which means the committee chairs are all Democrats. Including the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin.

Durbin, to be blunt, seems to have fallen asleep on the job. In response to Alito, Durbin has released some mealy-mouthed statements that amount to nothing more than a stern: "Tsk, tsk!" He has not announced new hearings before his committee, he has not pushed for a real Supreme Court ethics bill to be immediately brought up, and he is not even out there raising the political pressure on Chief Justice John Roberts to do something before his court becomes known as the most corrupt Supreme Court of all time (if, indeed, that ship hasn't already sailed).

This is a dereliction of duty. At least bringing such a bill up (there is one waiting in the wings already; it has been for over a year) would make the entire issue a big thing for Democrats to campaign on. But not acting means it'll likely all blow over and it won't even become an election issue that could help Joe Biden get re-elected.

For his inaction on this matter even in the face of taunting defiance by a Supreme Court justice, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin is this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. What more is it going to take before Durbin decides to do something substantive?

[Contact Senator Dick Durbin on his Senate contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 754 (5/31/24)

We begin today with a program note. This column will be on hiatus next Friday, as we will be on a short vacation. We will try to line up re-run columns for the days we are absent, but we just wanted to warn everyone in advance that our next new Friday Talking Points column will appear in two weeks' time.

Our talking points this week are really just an extension of the basic talking point we began with. The target audience is not the MAGA faithful, since they are beyond convincing. The target instead is the millions of Republican voters who had been planning on holding their noses and voting for Convicted Felon Donald Trump -- but now might be having second thoughts or even struggling with their conscience. There are indeed many Republicans who do have high morals who might be convincible, and there are millions more undecided voters in the middle for whom "convicted felon" might just be too much to stomach. There is a wide streak of decency in this country that Joe Biden tapped the last time around, and this is a good reminder of all the amoral baggage you get with Convicted Felon Donald Trump.

Since the guilty verdicts just happened, there will be no reliable polling on how this is going to affect the presidential race for at least a week, maybe two. Big news takes a while to settle in, and then the polls have to be conducted, and then the numbers have to be crunched. That all takes a while. So by this time next week we may be just starting to see glimmers of whether this is going to matter in any big way or not, but there's nothing to stop Democrats from making the case in the meantime, to all those voters who might be open to such arguments.

So our talking points today are for them.



We have to at least acknowledge the pioneering "Weekend Update" segment "REALLY!?!" ("...with Seth & Amy" or "...with Tina & Amy"... or sometimes even "...with Seth, Amy & Tina") for this first one.

"Do you really want a convicted felon to be our next president? Really? Really!?!"


   Don't forget the other 54, too

Convicted Felon Donald Trump's legal problems are far from over. So remind people, every chance you get.

"Don't forget, while Trump has been convicted of 34 felony crimes, there are still 54 other felony charges he hasn't answered for in court yet. He's got three more criminal trials hanging over his head, and this first one (according to the courtroom experts) was the hardest to prove. The January 6th insurrection charges are quite serious, and Convicted Felon Donald Trump will have to face them in both federal and state courts. And whenever the classified documents case rolls around, pretty much everyone knows that this one is going to be an absolute slam dunk for the prosecution. So right now Convicted Felon Donald Trump's tally is 34 guilty verdicts -- but that number could go a lot higher."


   Boy howdy...

OK, this one is just a taunt. Hey, it's been that kind of week, right?

"Boy, it sure didn't take long for the jury to convict Donald Trump of all those felonies, huh? Everyone said this was a tricky legal case and were wondering if the defense had raised enough reasonable doubt to convince at least one juror... but man they came back with 34 unanimous guilty verdicts pretty lickety-split."


   Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican

Anyone old enough to remember the 1980s (or even 1990s) will understand this one.

"So the Republicans have long insisted they are the party of 'law and order' and of 'family values.' They even had a powerful lobby that called themselves the 'Moral Majority' for awhile, there. But it's hard to square that with the hypocrisy we see today. The party of family values is about to nominate a man who paid off hush money to a porn star to keep quiet about adulterously having sex with her right after his wife gave birth to his new baby? Please explain how that fits in with your moral family values... because it doesn't quite seem to, to me. And that's even before we get to the party of 'law and order' nominating a man who calls violent insurrectionists who viciously attacked police officers 'patriots' and 'political prisoners' -- something else Convicted Felon Donald Trump is going to have to stand trial for, in both state and federal court. From where I sit, Republicans seem to now be the party of sneering contempt for law and order and of having no family values whatsoever other than 'anything goes.' Unless, you know, they're just being utter hypocrites."


   Moral relativism

Once again, kind of a blast from the Republican past....

"Republicans used to get up on their high horses and sanctimoniously berate Democrats for being -- as they put it -- 'moral relativists.' By this they meant Democrats were essentially amoral -- that Democratic morals morphed and changed to allow virtually anything. But now it seems Republicans are the ultimate moral relativists, since their morals so plainly shift depending on whether someone has a 'D' or an 'R' after their name. So much for taking the moral high road, eh folks?"


   OK, sure, Tricky Dick and all, but...

This one puts things in the proper historical context.

"OK, sure... we've had people whom I would call criminals sit in the Oval Office before, but never one who was an actual convicted felon."


   What would it say?

What sort of message would it send, really?

"You know, people used to be proud of their presidents, even when they hadn't voted for him. Presidents used to be role models for children, even with a few flaws here and there. But what would it say to the rest of the world if a convicted felon becomes America's leader? What message would that send? How could any American be proud of that?"

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


33 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Convicted Felon Donald Trump”

  1. [1] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Convicted felons cannot have access to classified materials. How can the President do the job if he cannot pass a security background check? It should be pointed out that Trump has never been able to pass the background check that the people hired to scrub the toilets at the White House. Why that isn't part of being allowed on the ballot is beyond me!

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I thought of a new use for covfefe

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's not exactly subtle, but if Biden just uses the term consistently and repeatedly -- without making any further commentary on what it all means in the bigger picture -- the label will catch on.

    That sort of juvenile name-calling is not who Biden is or what he is about. And, it wouldn't exactly add to the narrative that Biden has character and the other guy doesn't.

    It's the ultimate payback for Trump, who slaps a playground-bully label on anyone he doesn't like (such as "Sleepy Joe" or "Crooked Joe" for Biden). Biden's label will have the benefit of being not some sort of snarky insult an 8-year-old boy would come up with, but instead 100 percent the truth.

    It's still name-calling. And, while that is par for the course here and most other places, Biden isn't likely to take that route. Why? Because he's too old to change who he is. Which is just the way I like it!

    The ultimate payback would actually be for Biden to win in November by a wider margin than he did in 2020.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Three comments so far and not one use of the label. Very nice!

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Do you really want Biden to stoop to the other guy's level? It wouldn't be very presidential and I would like to believe that word still has some meaning left in it and may even, one day, rise again to its former glory, such as it was.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Dishonorific, even without the 'u', ahem, SHOULD be a word. Someone should start a petition.

  7. [7] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    This weeks MDDOW, for one last time, is Senator Manchin, who has now left the Democratic Party because of 'partisan extremism'. Not a day goes by that leader of the Republican Party or member of Congress says something that is NOT extreme.
    And if ever there were a week NOT try to compete with the GOP 'intelligentsia' falling all over themselves to defend a convicted felon, this was it. Talk about bad timing.
    'He said in a statement that over the past 15 years he has seen both major political parties leave their constituents behind for “partisan extremism while jeopardizing our democracy.”

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Former Chief

    Donald Trump

  9. [9] 
    dsws wrote:

    Doesn't take a petition to have a new word. Just start using it.

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    true, I just wanted to be clear on how the acronym lines up.

  11. [11] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    I'm sure someone on the speech-writing team is making a list of clever but not overly-coded references suitable for all occasions. I'm sure some people here can contribute.

  12. [12] 
    dsws wrote:

    Eventually Convicted Felon Donald Trump was charged by Bragg in state court for falsifying business records to cover up a separate crime

    It's not correct in this context. Convicted felon Trump wasn't Convicted Felon Trump yet then. He was still just Alleged Felon and Confessed Perpetrator of Sexual Assault Trump at the time.

  13. [13] 
    dsws wrote:

    Do you really want Biden to stoop to the other guy's level?

    I agree. Excessive use of the dishonorific should be left to proxies and independent commentators. Biden could even give a half-hearted condemnation of some extremely limited subcategory of instances, and then someone else could object to the condemnation, and so on, to keep it in the spotlight.

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Doesn't take a petition to have a new word. Just start using it.

    That's right!

    Hmmm ... I wonder if it works as well for phrases, too. I'm thinking ... Republican cult of economic failure but, I pretty much suck at phrases. :-)

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I'm sure someone on the speech-writing team is making a list of clever but not overly-coded references suitable for all occasions. I'm sure some people here can contribute.

    That is the last thing Biden needs, and that goes double for people here.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This trial and outcome don't seem to have impacted on the presidential election polls very much. Perhaps, the current trend in geopolitics will ... seeing as how president Biden keeps on keeping on with his handwringing over the Gaza war and now backtracking on red lines over the Ukraine war. Will American boots on the ground in Kharkiv province be next?

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Maybe it's time, finally, to shift the daily focus abroad. I'm just sayin' ...

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, now, for a little reminiscing ...

    One of my most favourite Biden quotes used to be, "Big nations can't bluff."

    Sigh. Now, it all seems like just a lot of spin. :(

  19. [19] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    And we have NEXT WEEK'S MDDOW - assuming no other Democrat does something even more disappointing.

  20. [20] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Nice talking point from Biden a few days ago.
    '“What would’ve happened if Black Americans had stormed the Capitol? I don’t think he’d be talking about pardons,” Biden said. “This is the same guy who wanted to tear gas you as you peacefully protested George Floyd’s murder. It’s the same guy who still calls the ‘Central Park Five’ guilty, even though they were exonerated. He’s that landlord who denies housing applications because of the color of your skin. He’s that guy who won’t say Black lives matter and invokes neo-Nazi, Third Reich terms.”'

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  22. [22] 
    dsws wrote:

    The idea of a pardon is interesting. Legally, accepting a pardon includes acknowledging guilt. More importantly, discussing a pardon involves lots of reminders that Trump is a convicted felon and Democrats are more concerned about the good of the country than our own partisan advantage.

  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I for one am curious whether he would accept a pardon if it were offered, for the reasons Dan outlined.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    May I say that your 'Covfefe' acronym was very nice.

  25. [25] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Joe is doing fine. His political instincts — which have been so effective — tell him that “being presidential” nowadays is seen(correctly, IMO) as being unwilling to fight. So to call a spade a spa — er, call a Convicted Felon a Convicted Felon is objectively a factual statement.

  26. [26] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:



    Three comments so far and not one use of the label. Very nice!

    Er, what label are you referring to? I don’t see Appeasement Surrender Monkey anywhere, so it’s not that. ;)

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Dishonorific, even without the 'u', ahem, SHOULD be a word. Someone should start a petition.

    I’d sign! I like this word and feel like we have to find a use for it our Murican language in these uncertain times.

    Just an aside, I’ve always been a poor speller partly because I read a ton of British literature along the way to becoming a monster reader.

    Colour and theatre and all that simply stuck.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    See [3].

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:



    Love you, Russ. :)

  30. [30] 
    Kick wrote:


    Former Chief

    Donald Trump

    Pefect, JL.

    It fits Trump to a "T" and also fits on a T-shirt. :)

  31. [31] 
    Kick wrote:

    ^^^^^ EDIT ^^^^^

    Perfect, JL.

  32. [32] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller

    This trial and outcome don't seem to have impacted on the presidential election polls very much.

    If you were seriously expecting a near-immediate change in political polling, we have definitely identified one of your problems. Heh. :)

  33. [33] 
    Kick wrote:


    And we have NEXT WEEK'S MDDOW - assuming no other Democrat does something even more disappointing.

    Pardon Trump? Oh, hell no!

    Excellent choice. :)

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