From the Author: “Donald Trump likely doesn’t even care about winning his legal battles right now. He’s fixated on his political future. His opponents had better watch out if that’s the case.”
“The Swamp” has former President Donald J. Trump swamped. At least that’s what he and his followers want you to believe. There is currently a bevy of trials that the forty-fifth president is facing, any of which could do untold amounts of damage to Trump’s political future and, in some of those ongoing cases, could eventuate in Trump’s imprisonment.
Yet, either due to a failure to believe or simply because he has no other viable defense, Trump is mounting a legal defense primarily in the court of public opinion while his legal defense in the court of law falls far short of where it should be to give Trump the kind of victory he requires.
Trump has already been fined $10,000 in the ongoing New York state case in which the former president is accused of having inflated the value of his assets in order to gain favorable loans. Trump is likely guilty of these charges (as are most wealthy individuals).
The presiding judge has issued a partial gag order against Trump, fearing that the former president will incite violence against those participating in the ongoing case. Trump has already made Letitia James, the New York attorney general who is leading the prosecution against him in the trial, a target of his wrath on social media.
Donald Trump Bullies His Opponents
Apparently, the forty-fifth president also made the presiding judge’s law clerk a key target in his ongoing battle to win over the affections of the public, as he both fights for his legal future and his reelection campaign. Trump found an image of the law clerk smiling beside Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). That image was posted to Trump’s social media account on Truth Social, the social media company that he owns.
The presiding judge believes that this has placed his trusted law clerk in physical danger.
At stake in this case is Trump’s reputation and standing as a successful Manhattan real estate developer. Should he be found guilty of having defrauded lenders, Trump’s business licenses in the state of New York will be pulled.
And he will be made to make financial restitution, which could cost him as much as $250 million. In this civil case, Trump is not facing jail time, as he is facing in the other cases against him. Unlike those other trials, too, there is no jury for him to impress. He truly must sway the judge.
Besides, the presiding judge has already indicated his political opposition to Trump. Now that Trump is making a mockery of the proceedings and – in the judge’s eyes – placing his law clerk in physical danger, Trump’s future does not look so great. But Trump has embraced a political defense and public outreach campaign at the expense of a legal strategy.
Is Trump Capable of Discretion?
When one is under indictment and investigation, as Trump is, one rarely wants to speak out of turn. A defendant in cases like this usually will defer to their attorneys. Usually, defendants want to curry favor with the judges presiding over their case.
Not Trump, though. He’s made alienating an already skeptical judge his mission.
Trump, however, is all-in on his political strategy—even at the expense of his legal one. It is clear that Trump does not want to engage in a traditional political process. He’s being even more unconventional in 2024 than he was in 2016.
At least then he participated in the process; he went to debates, took the race seriously, and tried to win over voters (which he did). Today, it’s another matter entirely. Trump has made grievance and outrage a hallmark of his political life. And now, thanks to these trials, he has one big grievance-producing machine.
The Stakes for Trump are Very High …
Trump’s businesses are on the line, though.
But if he’s totally committed to becoming president again, he will sacrifice the business to save his political future. This strategy just might work (at least in terms of winning the election). People are fed up with President Joe Biden. They want to go back to cheap gas, relative peace, and economic prosperity of the kind that we enjoyed from 2017 to 2020.
Trump likely doesn’t even care about winning his legal battles right now. He’s fixated on his political future. His opponents had better watch out if that’s the case.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor and an energy analyst at the The-Pipeline, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at 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 (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
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