New Republic has a new piece titled “Donald Trump is Running to Stay Out of Prison. Say It, Democrats!.” I believe the article misses the point. Is Trump running to stay out of prison? Or is Trump facing prison because he is running?
Let me explain. But first, here’s the New Republic argument.
“Trump’s run to return to the White House might be seen as his attempt at vindication after a narrow defeat in 2020. Although in Trump’s case, one might put it less loftily: Trump, ever the emotional 5-year-old, is livid that Joey’s Marky Sparky Blast Pad Rocket is bigger and cooler than his and the kids like Joey better. So he’s running to right that grievous historical wrong.
“But let’s be clear about Trump’s main motivation. Yeah, he wants to be president. He wants to corrupt and destroy democracy, bask in the radioactive glow of his sycophants’ blubbery praise over his perfect phone calls to Putin, start the mother of all culture wars, and all that. But mostly: He wants to stay out of prison.”
Speaking of emotional 5-year-olds, the article is pretty ranty and sarcastic and hyperbolic, and pretty consistent with the simplistic left-wing assessment of Trump and his motives.
Donald Trump Not Running for This Reason
Trump has been running for president non-stop since 2015. He left behind his life as a billionaire real-estate mogul not because he had incentive to avoid some sort of prosecution, but probably to stroke his megalomania.
He was still running for the 2020 election (moronically) after Biden had already been sworn in. Trump was always expected to run for 2024.
It likely had nothing to do with external circumstances like the DOJ indictment(s) or Alvin Bragg’s indictment. He’s running for the same reasons he ran the two previous times: To stroke his ego. To be the center of attention.
I don’t think he has any areas of policy passion, any grand visions for the world outside of enhancing his own relevance, but Trump is not running to stay out of prison. No, I suspect it may be the other way around: He risks prison because he is running for office.
This is a Trump apologist’s argument, and it’s not a conspiracy theory, but rather a question worth exploring. If Trump had just faded away after his 2020 defeat, let Ron DeSantis surge and take the GOP helm, would the indictments have come?
Would Alvin Bragg have bothered to resurrect some hush money ghost case with a legal argument so thin, so unlikely to result in conviction, that even Democrats are blushing? Doubtful. Would the DOJ have pursued the classified documents investigation?
Remember that the DOJ is within Biden’s purview, and that once Trump decided to run again in 2024, Trump became (again) Biden’s chief political rival. Then consider that the documents charges hinge upon what is essentially an administrative technicality.
Typically, when someone mishandles classified documents, the malfeasance is treated as an administrative issue, not a criminal issue. And then consider that the president of the United States can unilaterally declassify documents – so Trump could have waved a wand and declassified the documents in question.
That he failed to do so is baffling and further indication that he is not especially impressive. But it also means that the indictment is hitting on a pure technicality. He forgot to declassify the documents. Big deal. So, would the DOJ have pursued that administrative technicality so vigorously if Trump had kept his head low and let Biden take on Ron DeSantis or Mike Pence in 2024?
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.