New York Judge Arthur Engoron slapped former President Donald Trump with a gag order in his civil fraud trial.
Meanwhile, special counsel Jack Smith is seeking a separate gag order from the D.C. federal case on charges he conspired to overturn the 2020 election.
If Trump and his campaign were smart, they would make a double order of gag — triple and quadruple if possible. It would be a boon for his 2024 campaign. So, supersize the gag orders.
Back in early 2021, after Twitter expelled Trump, many of us played out the great historical what-if of Trump getting booted from Twitter in, say, 2018 or 2019. Without Twitter, he might have coasted to a re-election victory in 2020.
Imagine how far Trump could go if he could stay out of his own way. His constant self-sabotage, verbally and on social media, has created political peril.
Not that any order will completely keep him from stepping on verbal rakes. But the potential for a contempt citation might force a little self-discipline.
A rarely remembered aspect of the Trump presidency was that he had three opponents in the 2020 Republican primary, two former governors and one former congressman. Trump loves to “punch back.” But even as these guys were wailing away, Trump showed enough discipline to only call them the “three stooges” and never mention their names.
Trump actually listened to advisors who warned him that insulting any these guys would mean headlines and airtime—which could mean devoting resources to ensuring none of the has-beens manage to surpass expectations. None of the supposed stooges made an impact. So, when the need arises, he can resist his base impulses.
It was Trump’s post on Truth Social that named a law clerk for the judge, and an Instagram of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Trump called the law clerk, “Schumer’s girlfriend” and said she was “running this case against me.”
The angry judge ordered Trump to delete the Truth Social post, and said Trump and others in the case can’t talk about his aides publicly.
“Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,” Engoron said.
So, this gag order is limited, for the moment. That doesn’t mean it won’t expand as Trump mouths off.
It would be more beneficial to Trump if the D.C. federal court imposed a gag order. It could at least curb his constant harping about the 2020 election, and force him to focus on the disastrous presidency of Joe Biden.
Polls show that most Americans are not Trump fans. But he has far more supporters who would walk through fire barefoot over broken glass to vote for him than any other American politician has.
Most Americans — even a lot of those ardent supporters–think he probably did something wrong — among the four criminal indictments and one state civil fraud trial. However, polls consistently show a majority of Americans — many who aren’t fans at all — also think the charges are political.
That only seems contradictory for people inside the Beltway, or who live on cable news or social media. Normal Americans don’t fit that cookie-cutter image. They can process that Trump is anything but a role model, but intuitively know that no other politician or public figure would face this type of scrutiny for similar conduct.
New York Attorney General Letitia James serves as Exhibit A on this point. Her civil fraud suit seeking $250 million in damages for the state accuses Trump, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the Trump Organization, and top executives of misstating real estate values to gain better loans, insurance, and tax advantages. The problem is she hasn’t found a victim in the lawsuit. It’s also a tough sale to contend such exaggerations aren’t common in the New York real estate world.
From a democracy standpoint, it doesn’t seem right for a government controlled by one party to muzzle the leading candidate of the opposition party. In fact, that’s what organizations like Freedom House would be doing reports on if it happened in other countries.
But from a strategic, realpolitik perspective for Trump: Bring On The Gag Orders. Add a gag order to the Manhattan criminal trial over Stormy Daniels, to the Georgia case over the 2020 election, and the federal case in Florida over the classified documents.
This gag order will stir up some public sympathy from any fence sitters regarding Trump. It will also keep him from saying stupid, dumb Trumpian stuff that sabotages his campaigns.
And if he is punished for violating a gag order, he’ll only look like more of a victim, which is his favorite role.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.
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