Trump’s Western Posse Rallies to His Defense

Trump’s Western Posse Rallies to His Defense

Trump’s Western Posse Rallies to His Defense

Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Andy Biggs, along with failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, have joined the chorus of excuses for the former president’s alleged crimes.


Special counsel Jack Smith has, as honest Republicans such as Chris Christie have acknowledged, caught Donald Trump red-handed, having indicted the former president on 37 federal counts. He’s got the man on tape basically confessing to holding documents illegally, and he’s got him admitting that he doesn’t have the right to show these documents to those without the requisite security clearances—and then showing them anyway. He’s got Trump’s own lawyers saying that Trump told them to lie about his possession of these documents. And he’s got Trump ordering his assistant to move the boxes so that agents executing a search warrant would have a harder time accessing the materials.

In a rational world, Republicans would be fleeing this ghastly creature as if he were a 250-pound lump of blubbery, MAGA-hat-wearing uranium. Yet, in the dystopian world that we actually live in, that bloviating, self-pitying lunatic still commands cult-like loyalty from most high-level GOP politicians. A troika of prominent politicians from out West went so overboard in their attacks on Smith’s decision to indict Trump on 37 federal counts that it defies belief—except, of course, that they’ve given us all ample opportunity in the recent past to believe they will always choose the worst possible path forward vis-à-vis Trump.

The Western wall of shame this week: First up is Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield’s most unpleasant export, and his outrageous assertions, calculated to destroy trust in the judicial system itself, that Trump was being politically persecuted by President Joe Biden (rather than prosecuted by the Justice Department) after hoarding top-secret nuclear documents in unsecured locations around his Mar-a-Lago resort. The speaker also proclaimed that this represented a “brazen weaponization of power,” rather than the judicial process playing itself out the way it is supposed to.

Sheer balderdash. Trump was indicted by a grand jury, upon what looks, from the language of the indictment, to be rock-solid evidence. He has the right to be tried, in his home state of Florida, and judged by a jury of his peers—well, not quite his peers, since one would be hard-pressed to find 12 sort-of-billionaires quite as morally cankered as is the ex-president. He was released, after his arraignment, on his own recognizance, without even having to surrender his passport. And he has had the tremendous good fortune to draw a trial judge, Aileen Cannon, whom Trump himself appointed and who has already shown herself to be a loyalist willing to bend the rules of the game to lend an assist to the embattled MAGA-man. He’s hardly facing the Stalinesque weaponization of power conjured up by McCarthy’s fevered imagination.

Of course, given the current crop of extremists, McCarthy’s comments weren’t even close to being the most inflammatory. Take, for example, the words of Arizona Representative Andy Biggs, long one of the most far-right voices in Congress, who uttered the bellicose assertion on Twitter: “We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.” No matter how hard his aides tried to paper it over after the fact, it’s pretty difficult to read Biggs’s comment as anything other than a call to arms.

The final member of this vile troika is failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate (and putative Trump vice presidential nominee) Kari Lake, who made the astounding, violence-inciting, claim that the Justice Department would have to fight through 75 million gun-toting Trump supporters in order to get to their man. That may play well out on the stump—and likely will gain her some brownie points with a vengeful Trump as he ponders who his running mate should be if he wins the 2024 nomination—but it’s hard to overstate just how dangerous such language is. When would-be political leaders give their followers implicit permission to reach for their guns, democracy rapidly falls hostage to those willing, and able, to shed blood.

Two of these three wall-of-shamers, as sitting members of Congress, have repeatedly had to swear an oath to defend the Constitution; the third, had she succeeded in her efforts to become governor, would also have had to take such an oath.

Unless I’m missing something, it’s pretty damn hard to see how efforts to subvert the rule of law, to undermine the Justice Department, and to intimate violence unless the leader of the cult of MAGA is given a free pass to steal the nation’s top secrets—and, by extension, to commit any other crime he wants—in any way, shape or form translates to a defense of this nation’s founding document.

Maybe all three of these political figures—and the scores of others who have similarly debased themselves this week—simply cross their fingers behind their backs whenever they’re asked to swear fealty to the rule of law and the other tenets of the Constitution. More likely, they’ve simply concluded that in their heart of hearts the Führerprinzip is more to their liking than is the democratic process—a view shared by their increasingly authoritarian base. They are now, right out in the open, shamelessly shedding their constitutional garb. The GOP, by the end of this process, will have lost even the hollow language that it once used to portray itself as the party of democracy and decency.

Yet again, Trump has grubbified everything and everyone he touches. And yet again, the GOP is proving itself an all-too-willing accomplice in this coarse display.

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