A Bad Day for Donald Trump? Not So Fast… – As the Manhattan trial against former President Donald J. Trump in which Mr. Trump stands accused of paying hush money to a mistress, the pornographic actress, Stormy Daniels, meanders through the court system, there is yet another blow for the forty-fifth president.
The presiding judge has issued a partial gag order on the notoriously loose lipped Trump.
And while critics of the former president insist that the judge’s order is not a gag order (technically, it’s not), the fact remains that the enemies of Trump know that his big mouth has a way of swaying juries. By even partly limiting what he can share about his case with the public, the prosecution is able to hold the former president accountable in ways that lawyers in other cases against Trump were unable to.
The real motive behind this move is not legal.
After all, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg got the forty-fifth president indicted, even as the former president was well into his reelection campaign (there had been a longstanding principle among prosecutors not to abuse their power by trying to sway elections).
This really was about silencing Trump.
Taking Away Trump’s Voice
Trump has an uncanny way to frame issues and to impugn his accusers as well as those witnesses supporting the opposing side. We’ve seen Trump’s bareknuckle tactics play out in nearly every court proceeding he has been involved in.
These patterns have shown themselves throughout Trump’s time in the media. During the dissolution of his first marriage to Ivanna, on his top-rated reality television series, The Apprentice, and throughout his time as a political figure, Trump has been a master craftsman of media manipulation and character assassination.
Although the order by the presiding judge in the Stormy Daniels case is not an official gag order, it is damaging to the media savvy, always-on-the-offensive, Donald Trump. They’re hemming him in. Sure, he’s still allowed to discuss the general events of the ongoing case in public. But he’s restricted from sharing details that might have been used to help him in framing the national conversation.
This is, at the very least, a partial win for the prosecution and a victory for Trump’s foes. Whereas his initial indictment paradoxically empowered Trump politically, being partly silenced by the judge in the case is damaging.
Trump already is prevented by contract with Truth Social, the conservative social network that he had helped to create, from posting on his infamous Twitter profile—even after Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, reinstated the @RealDonaldTrump profile.
The Stormy Daniels case, which is set to next convene in early December, is going to continue bleeding Trump as he campaigns for office…and as several more legal cases slam him over the next year.
Donald Trump Found Guilty of Sexual Assault and Defamation
One of those other cases involves decades old allegations that Trump raped a reporter named E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room. This is another one of those cases that has hung around Trump and only just now, after years of floating in the legal and political ether, being concluded.
While not guilty of rape, the jury determined that Trump is guilty of sexual abuse, meaning the forty-fifth president is liable for battery. The jury also found Trump guilty of defamation. As a result of this finding, the court has awarded E. Jean Carroll $5 million.
Trump has naturally dubbed this case a “witch hunt” in what he believes to be the “continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.” This case and the Stormy Daniels case are but two of many legal woes the former president will face over the next year. And these cases aren’t even the most serious ones he faces.
They’re just the first of many.
Trump must next contend with cases involving accusations that he mishandled classified documents and a particularly troubling claim—in which there are recordings of the former president—that Trump attempted to rig the Georgia recount during the 2020 Presidential Election.
All in all, though, the avalanche of legal problems that President Trump faces today are troubling, but they are not disqualifying in terms of Trump’s reelection chances. What’s more, there is ample evidence that each time one of these cases dings Trump, he gets stronger politically.
Even with the partial unofficial gag order in place, Trump has successfully stage-managed controversy surrounding his public persona so well that he’s convinced a sizable portion of the population that, no matter what happens, all these legal issues are part of a giant conspiracy by the Faceless Men of the Deep State to destroy his chances at becoming president again.
Some of Trump’s beliefs on this matter may be a combination of paranoia with a dash of cynical self-interest. But it would be unwise for readers to just discard Trump’s claims about a witch hunt. He has been the subject of a series of unfair investigations going back to the Russia collusion delusion from his first year in office. Most of which have been proven to be either completely false or exaggerated.
Are These All Politically Motivated Witch Hunts?
These rulings are coming down at a time when, for the first time in a while, Trump’s polling numbers are exploding. He is beating President Joe Biden in a head-to-head matchup on average by seven points (of course, so is his potential Republican Party challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis).
Trump is deftly using these recent winning poll numbers as an implicit contrast with the “Deep State” making these negative legal judgements which Trump (and his followers) believe are designed to stymie Trump’s unorthodox reelection campaign.
Trump continues making history.
Now, he is not only the first person running for election to have been indicated for a crime (in the Stormy Daniels case) but is now a politician running for reelection having been found guilty of sexual abuse. He might be able to use these judgements to his political advantage in 2024.
Nevertheless, it’s a sad day for the republic when we have this much of a compromised candidate standing a good chance at being reelected. It’s even worse if Trump is correct and these are completely exaggerated, politically motivated rulings.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.