Donald Trump Thinks He Can Talk His Way Out of This. He Might Be Right

5 minute read

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Even by Donald Trump’s standards, the ex-President’s and newly-minuted felon’s Friday morning free-association session in the lobby of his Midtown Manhattan tower was a doozy—and a warning that the march toward Election Day could be just as befuddling.

Without evidence, Trump claimed once more that the dozen jurors who voted unanimously to convict him on 34 felony charges a day earlier were working at the behest of his political opponent, President Joe Biden. He veered into some really extraneous sideshows, like the one where he says Democrats want to ban Americans from having cars, are responsible for the end of Little League games and luxury hotels, and are to blame for multilingual schools “with languages where very few people have even heard of these languages; it is not like Spanish or French or Russian.” Oh, and for good measure and without prompting, he invoked one of the three other pending criminal trials on his docket, the one related to his alleged involvement with the attempted override of democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.

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It was, to be frank, a reminder that Trump is simultaneously a figure of seemingly endless self-confidence in his abilities to persuade his audiences that facts are pesky while also serving as his worst enabler. The next five months before Election Day, if Friday is a hint, stand to be just as truth challenged and mind blowing. Americans have been through two national campaigns starring Trump before, but this may set new levels of inanity. After all, which voters are going to decide their presidential preference based on Trump’s claims that one of his Secret Service agents is a Karate expert who could have poked him in the eye on Jan. 6 if he got too aggressive?

A day earlier, Trump sulked in a Lower Manhattan courtroom as a jury found him guilty on charges stemming from dodgy bookkeeping used to conceal hush-money payouts to a porn star who alleged a tryst with the billionaire reality-show star back in 2006. Jurors agreed with prosecutors that the payouts from the Trump Organization were to help Trump’s 2016 presidential bid avoid a messy scandal in the middle of a campaign, and were in effect illegal campaign contributions. Trump has denied the tryst and payoffs, but on Friday—now found guilty by his peers—seemed to drop that pretense altogether. "Was he a bad boy here? Was he a bad boy there?” Trump asked of himself.

Trump has enjoyed narrow but consistent leads in national and swing state polls for some time, and it’s not clear his convictions this week—or potentially in other cases about election fraud, democracy interference, or classified documents down the road—make any dent with his die-hard supporters. "Everybody says there's no crime here,” Trump said, working once again to delegitimize the New York jurors who disagreed and said, in fact, there were 34 crimes no matter what his sycophants in the conservative echo chamber put forward. 

But surely there has to be some breaking point for some voters who are just tired of Trump’s dirge of fabricated realities. Well, at least that’s the hope among Democrats who were completely under-prepared to watch Trump collect more than $34 million in donations—roughly a million dollars per felony conviction—in the hours after learning he was now a felon facing a June sentencing date back in the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan, whom Trump called the devil and a tyrant. Public and private polling alike shows Trump supporters have grown less wobbly on their support if he were convicted. Democrats, from the White House to individual candidates, are still telling themselves that abortion and democracy were the more salient topics to mine with voters, not a criminal docket.

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For his part, it doesn’t seem like Trump recognizes the very real peril ahead of him. If Trump does comprehend his plight—which could involve jail time—he is not one to let on. “Remember, Nov. 5 is the most important day in the history of our country,” Trump told reporters whose questions went unanswered in the gilded lobby. “Thank you,” Trump said curtly, as though he was merely ordering a taco salad from the commissary down the hall. For a figure replete with bombast and armed with endless self-worth, Trump seems to think he can bluster his way out of this pickle, and he mightn’t be entirely irrational. Up until this week, Trump had tangoed through troubles with little more than a scratch. And, given this nation’s seemingly limitless capacity to indulge Trump’s excesses, grievances, and bravado, Trump may well be proven correct.

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