Bryan Zepp Jamieson
April 4th 2023
The Trump indictments got all the press, but the really big news today was the vote for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. There, an American moderate liberal defeated an individual heavily funded by a clandestine coalition of right wing groups that I’ve come to think of as the National Association of Zealots and Ideologues. Janet Protasiewicz is projected to handily defeat Dan Kelly, a right winger with ties to election deniers, anti-vaxxers, and who is on record advocating an end to all abortions.
Nearly all of Protasiewicz’s funding came from residents and the state Democratic party. Kelly’s money, some $30 million, came from groups and individuals outside of Wisconsin, with only $200,000 coming from in-state.
The election gave control of the Supreme Court back to non-fascists. You don’t need to tell me it’s utterly insane that supreme court judges are elected in contests in which powerful political interests control the funding (and far too often, the outcome) of elections. It is utterly insane. Not that the Senate is that big an improvement.
But for now, at least, Wisconsin residents are no longer at the mercy of dishonest fundamentalist hacks pretending to be judges. That puts them ahead of the country as a whole.
The list of indictments made for strangely easy reading. The same charge was repeated 34 times: Donald J. TRUMP, Defendant. THE GRAND JURY OF THE COUNTY OF NEW YORK, by this indictment, accuses the defendant of the crime of FALSIFYING BUSINESS RECORDS IN THE FIRST DEGREE, in violation of Penal Law §175.10, committed as follows: The defendant, in the County of New York and elsewhere, on or about February 14, 2017, with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof, made and caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise, to wit, an invoice from Michael Cohen dated February 14, 2017, marked as a record of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, and kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.
In each of the subsequent 33 charges, only the dates and check recipients/numbers changed. Each was a felony under New York State law. It wasn’t the actions Trump committed that were illegal. It isn’t illegal to bang a porn star if she is a consenting adult. It’s not illegal to try to hide that you did. It isn’t even illegal to buy her silence. Where Trump fucked up was in the accounting; he gave false information on where the money came from, who it went to, what it paid for, and how it was disbursed. As Dick Nixon could tell you, it wasn’t the crime (and in this case it wasn’t even a crime); it’s the coverup. And Al Capone could tell you that if they can’t prove you killed dozens of people and committed many other violent crimes, they can always get you on the bookkeeping.
In the case of Trump, it’s the facts behind the indictments that could leave him hanging out to dry.
Frankly, despite the bluster from Trump and his minions, I expect that he’ll eventually work some kind of plea bargain on this. It’s a white collar series of crimes, and incredible as it may sound, he’s a first time offender. It’s entirely possible he could get a suspended sentence and several years probation. It wouldn’t be too extraordinary in this situation. America may be one of the most savage nations on Earth when it comes to punishing people who steal bicycles or shoplift, but they’ve always had a warm fuzzy spot in their flinty little hearts for people who use pens to steal millions. The old saying has it, “Steal a loaf of bread, go to jail. Steal a million dollars, go to the Senate.”
He already has taken major political damage. His supporters swarmed New York City by the dozens, outnumbered by anti-Trump demonstrators, police, and reporters. Marjorie-Taylor Greene tried to seize the Trump banner, no doubt visualizing herself in Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (what a mental image. Ohmigawd, woman, cover up! Bad enough that we have to see your PITS!). She lasted all of ten minutes before a hooting and whistling crowd, before retreating to her SUV and scurrying off in disgrace.
Trump and his wastrel sons made threats against the Judge and his daughter, and continued attacks against DA Bragg and his family. Trump, at least, could end up in jail on contempt charges if he keeps that shit up.
More important, the vote tampering cases in Georgia and the federal case surrounding January 6th present a far greater threat to Trump. He may settle this first case so he can help fight in the two bigger ones coming.
But settling will damage him beyond repair politically. Outside of his own small circle and the dead-enders on Truth Social, there had been mostly a silence, simultaneously awkward and thoughtful, from the far right.
They are finally realizing that neither reality nor history are on their side. The Great Crumble of the GOP may have begun.