Orange Man in a Banana Republic
State of the Union: Welcome to the new normal you were promised.
Donald Trump surrendered to authorities in New York for his arrest and arraignment Tuesday. A chorus of we got him broke out among left-wing commentators on air and on social media.
Trump was processed, his fingerprints taken and logged into the New York legal system. It’s just like any other person charged with a crime, the left said giddily. Trump then made his way to the courtroom, looking stern, for his arraignment. It’s just like any other indicted individual. No one is above the law. It was a vain attempt to put a veneer of normalcy over the ordeal.
At the arraignment, the charges were unveiled. The indictment, unsealed shortly thereafter, lists 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree with a max sentence of 136 years in prison, though no one expects Trump will serve that kind of time, if any. Trump then entered his "not guilty" plea himself. Bragg and the prosecution requested a gag order on the former president, highlighting recent social media posts they claimed could incite violence. Trump's team turned it back on the prosecution, which has been leaking details of the proceedings to the press, and said Trump has a right to defend himself. The judge refused to put a gag order on Trump, but told his legal team he should refrain from edgier social media posts. While negotiations will continue with what proceedings Trump should attend, based on the burden it puts on the city and Trump's campaign schedule, the judge said he expects to see Trump in person for a hearing scheduled on December 4. Surely, these are the proceedings of just another guy getting charged with a crime.
The corporate media treated it simply as normal proceedings, too. For hours on end, news cameras were fixed to the spectacle. They gathered outside Mar-a-Lago, then followed Trump’s motorcade by helicopter. Then there was Trump’s plane taking off in Florida and touching down in New York; another motorcade; outside the courthouse, then inside. Most of the airtime was dead space with only brief glimpses of the former president before his arraignment. Cameras fixed on closed doors with some officers meandering in front as political commentators and legal experts speculated on what comes next.
The day's events betrayed the fact that Trump is not just any individual. To state the obvious, he’s the former president of the United States and the first to be indicted with a crime after leaving office. He’s the left’s ultimate bogeyman, a symbol of everything wrong with the world. For seven years, they’ve stopped at nothing—even total fabrication—to arrive at this moment. In part because of their attempts to destroy him, he’s become a symbol of something else entirely for his supporters: a symbol of resistance and retribution.
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And this is not just any other case. The 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stem from an $130,000 payment made by Trump’s then-lawyer, and now convicted felon, Michael Cohen to porn-star Stormy Daniels on Trump’s behalf. Trump repaid Cohen for his services and allegedly misclassified these payments as “legal expenses.” While he lets violent criminals roam the streets of New York and downgrades all kinds of other crimes, D.A. Alvin Bragg is preparing to argue that this misclassification was intentional; intended to advance or conceal other criminal activity. What that criminal activity is, one can only speculate because Bragg himself cast a wide net in his news conference Tuesday after the arraignment, pointing out that the indictment does not have to specify the underlying crime that allegedly elevated these misdemeanors to a felony. From Bragg's statements, however, it appears the main point of his attack will be in relation to violations of New York election law or campaign finance violations, and would rest on torturing preexisting legal theory. As my colleague John Hirschauer has pointed out, “the Obama Justice Department tried, and failed, to secure a campaign finance conviction against John Edwards on a similar theory.”
That won’t chill fever dreams of fantasies of picturing the orange man in an orange suit. But it’s less oranges and more bananas. Bananas that a Soros-funded D.A. would elevate an alleged misdemeanor to a felony to escape the statute of limitations even after federal authorities refused to pursue charges in the same case. Bananas that Democrats would arrest the sitting president’s chief political challenger in the upcoming election in a long-shot attempt to remove Trump from the ballot.
Welcome to the new normal you were promised. It’s not banana republic stuff. The republic is gone. Bananas are all that is left in store.