It’s getting Stormy for Donald Trump. In a lengthy message on his TruthSocial site on Saturday morning, Trump announced that he expects that the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, will indict and arrest him on Tuesday for his hush money payment scheme to his former, if brief, inamorata Stormy Daniels.
“Protest, take our nation back,” he urged. But Trump’s urges may not be widely shared.
It’s hard to avoid the feeling that Trump misses the shock and awe of January 6, when his loyal followers stormed the Capitol to try to overturn the election of Joe Biden. That rebellion turned Trump into the ultimate Washington outsider, a revolt against the very government he was supposed to lead. But for a guy who is willing to say that the Constitution should be terminated on his own behalf, anything goes. January 6 was his Beer Hall moment, the apotheosis of his campaign. Only the recalcitrance of the Secret Service prevented him from going up to the Capitol to enjoy the show in person rather than watching it from the White House.
Apart from the crazies in the House of Representatives, however, Trump’s open call for rebellion today and evocation of January 6 isn’t likely to attract much approbation from leading Republicans. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will likely say he never saw Trump’s statement. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other establishment Republicans will try to avoid commenting on it as well. A cynic might speculate that Trump is secretly working on behalf of the Democratic National Committee to shore up its political fortunes in the upcoming 2024 election. He did a fine job, after all, of demolishing the GOP’s chances for winning the Senate in the 2022 midterms.
Trump’s latest move isn’t just a race to the bottom. It savors of sheer desperation, a plea for help that is unlikely to be answered except by the looniest of his followers. Marching into battle to defend the former president’s previous sexual peccadilloes just doesn’t have the same ring to it as storming the Senate. It’s telling that Trump couldn’t even get the alleged date of his date with the hoosegow straight. He’s operating, as usual, on rage and resentment rather than cold calculation. Several hours later, the Trump campaign backtracked on the date. “President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system,” they said.
So much for law and order. Trump, who has made a career out of flouting the law, would enjoy nothing more than completing the conversion of the GOP into his own image. As Freddy Gray put it in a recent Spectator cover story, “Trump’s 2024 pitch is, essentially an ever more belligerent war on the American deep state at home,” coupled with a unilateralist foreign policy. But Gray may well be overestimating the attractiveness of this formula. Just who is itching for an assault on the FBI and CIA other than the dwindling band of MAGA zealots?
The truth is that it will never happen. The person enjoying Trump’s predicament the most is likely another Floridian, Ron DeSantis, who has been holding his fire. As Trump wriggles and writhes, it is DeSantis who will benefit. So will former vice president Mike Pence who is courting the evangelical vote in Iowa.
So far, only one public figure is backing Trump. “If this happens, Trump will be re-elected in a landslide,” Elon Musk tweeted. Don’t count on it. Sometimes bad things happen to the bad boy. This looks like one of them. After his serial legal travails, Trump’s political batteries may finally have run out of juice.