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One Damn Thing After Another

USA v. Trump: Your nose ends where my nose begins.

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Sunday Morning / August 6, 2023

Donald J. Trump descended into Washington DC on Thursday to be arraigned on four felony charges related to overturning the 2020 election, whilst Joe Biden simultaneously strolled in wanderlust along Rehoboth Beach in Delaware on his new Specialized S-Works World Cup.

The former president pled “NOT GUILTY” summarily to conspiracy to defraud the United States; obstructing an official proceeding; and conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding. But the fourth and final charge brought both men into alignment. A Biden Administration > U.S. Justice Department > grand jury on Thursday formally charged a former U.S. president with Conspiracy Against Rights. 18 U.S.C. § 241 reads in part:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, they shall be fined and/or imprisoned not more than ten years. 

But whodunit? Did Trump conspire to obstruct the 2020 election result with claims he knew were false? Or is Biden deliberately interfering with the 2024 election? If the Biden Administration is weaponizing the DOJ to bamboozle a political opponent during an election cycle then the republic is corrupt. Sidebar: The DOJ has strict guidelines in place not to prosecute cases that could influence or interfere with federal elections. Likewise, if a former president could overturn the results of a free and fair election a republic, by definition, doesn’t actually exist. 

The question evenly divides the country, and Trump and Biden are the proverbial page boys on the nation’s back stair; running reconnaissance missions respectively to what Biden calls the “soul” and Trump the “greatness” of America.

Make America Great (Again)

“Donald Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen are false,” the 45-page indictment read, “and the Defendant knew they were false. They were fueled by lies targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government, and the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.” 

Or was the indictment an attempt to protect the thieves and legitimize the heist? Attorney John Lauro told CNN on Tuesday “this indictment illegally criminalizes Trump’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.” Special Counsel Jack Smith anticipated Lauro’s response, explicitly conceding in the indictment that Trump had the First Amendment right to assert election fraud, even falsely.

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Special Counsel Jack Smith

“The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won,” the indictment reads. The indictment argues instead that Trump broke the law when his speech transformed into action, i.e., obstructing official proceedings and conspiring to block citizens’ right to have their vote counted. While American’s speech is protected their conduct is not.

Trump reacted by invoking past global horrors on social media. “The lawlessness of these persecutions is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes.” Mike Pence, on the campaign trail in Indiana added, “anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.”

While Trump has denied any and all wrongdoing related to the 2020 election, spokesman Steven Cheung accused the Justice Department on Thursday of trying to interfere with the 2024 election by targeting the GOP front-runner. However, Trump’s former attorney general Willian Barr undermined a key pillar of Lauro's free speech defense during the Jan 6. Committee's probe into the 2020 election interference.

When the former attorney general spoke with the House select committee that investigated January 6 last year, he described Trump in the days following the 2020 election as “detached from reality.” He elucidates in his memoir, “One Damn Thing After Another:"

"Someone who engaged in that kind of bullying about a process that is fundamental to our system of self-government shouldn’t be anywhere near the Oval Office. While he appeared detached, Donald Trump knew well he lost the election.”

The smoking gun, of course, of Smith’s case is that Trump knew the election claims he was making were false, and are substantiated by the 63 lawsuits he filed and lost contesting the election processes, vote counting, and the vote certification process in multiple states including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Even Trump appointed judges dismissed the lawsuits.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who was randomly chosen to preside over the case, said she'll set a trial date on Aug. 28, the first hearing she'll oversee in the proceedings.

As Trump wades through his third criminal indictment this year, the former president not only leads but is now the presumptive GOP nominee. Barr says his former boss should not be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024 because he believes Smith has strategically held something back. “We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg on this. I think there is a lot more to come, and I think they have a lot more evidence as to President Trump’s state of mind.”

"Evidence like what?” PBS NewsHour’s Geoff Bennett asked in a timely interview Thursday evening.

"Evidence of his knowledge, statements he's made, evidence he understood that he had lost the election," Barr replied. "Perhaps an additional charge."

"Do you believe its your duty to speak to the special counsel?"

"Of course. I will talk to the special counsel."

For the first 234 years of the nation’s history, no American president or former president had ever been indicted. That changed this year. Trump has been indicted in three criminal cases and charged with 78 felony counts.

In New York, he faces 34 felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. In Florida, he faces 40 felony counts for hoarding classified documents and impeding efforts to retrieve them. In Washington, D.C., he faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Additional charges in Georgia are “ready to go.”

 “The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,” Smith began, when he drew the world’s attention this week to the United States of America v. Donald J. Trump. 

Soul of the Nation

“To get power you need to display absolute pettiness," Napoleon Bonaparte said at the Battle of Waterloo. Years of isolation would take a toll on the deposed French Emperor’s state of mind, and in exile at Longwood House on St. Helena's Island he completed the last line. “...but to exercise power you need to show true greatness.” 

The quote had been drafted by Steven Cheung in the event Trump might address the media on the tarmac at Reagan. Instead, he stepped from his SUV and criticized Washington DC for its "decay and all of the broken buildings and walls and the graffiti. This is not the place that I left," he said, before boarding Trump Force One.

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Trump Force One, August 3, 2023

The plane taxied, turned and rolled down the runway which runs parallel to the Potomac River, and climbed steadily through a low ceiling of clouds before rolling right, at a 180 degree angle, into an adverse yaw above the city and away from the Nation's Capital.

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