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Georgia, Ohio offer a peek into Trump's future
A peek into Trump’s future is pretty cloudy, but two things are clear. A mountain of cash, and an army of lawyers.
Ohio Republicans have spent well over $60 million in a primary election that will be decided today. Of that money, Donald Trump’s Save America PAC spent a grand total of…nothing. Trump couldn’t even get J.D. Vance’s name right. Clearly, Trump is in it for himself.
Voters will decide today whether Vance’s Trump bump is real. From The Dispatch:
For Vance, the payoff of Trump’s endorsement was soon evident. An April 26 Fox News survey showed his support had doubled from the month prior: 23 percent of Republican primary voters said they would back Vance, with the other leading candidates trailing at 18 (Mandel), 13 (Gibbons), 11 (Dolan), and 4 (Timken) percentage points respectively.
Mike Gibbons pitched in $17 million of his own cash. Remember, Josh Mandel and Gibbons nearly came to blows during the Republican debate last month. It’s been a chippy campaign, with nearly all the the candidates trying to hump Trump’s leg for the prize. We’ll see if the juice is worth the squeeze.
A loss for Team Trump will signal others (like Gary Black, who is running for Senate in Georgia against the favorite, football hero Herschel Walker) that Trump’s endorsement is vulnerable.
Also in Georgia, I’ve been informed that the barricades have gone up around the Fulton County Courthouse on Pryor Street, across from the State House. This is because Fulton D.A. Fani Willis has selected a special grand jury to look into potential election interference charges against Mr. Trump.
Judge Robert McBurney addressed the jury pool, informing them of the investigative task ahead: “Now it's time for 26 members of our community to participate in that investigation.” I feel for those 26 people. I must confess, my wife was scheduled for jury duty Tuesday and managed to get a deferral. I have never been so glad for her to not participate in civic life. The very last grand jury I’d ever want to serve on is the one investigating Trump.
Why? Because inevitably, the veil of secrecy will be pierced. These people, some of them, will be outed. They’ll be doxxed. They’ll be harassed, threatened, and vilified. It will be hell on earth for them, from both sides of the issue. Don’t tell me “that can’t happen because blah blah blah records are sacred.” Yeah and so are unpublished Supreme Court internal opinion drafts, right?
And in the end, I don’t think Willis will listen to the grand jury (she’s under no obligation to act on their findings).
This special grand jury will be “steered” by Willis’ office, but will have subpoena power to question whoever they please if it’s relevant to the investigation before them. I expect Willis to unleash them in the most spectacular way, that will keep the headlines pumping through the summer and into the fall. The cast of Trump characters, from Giuliani to Meadows to Trump himself will be hauled before the group. Whether any will show up is an open question.
At the end of it all, my bet is the special grand jury will release a non-committal finding that there may be enough evidence for a criminal trial, but not a strong enough case to be a slam dunk. It will issue that finding at just the right time—politically, for the 2022 general election—to maximize potential influence in the U.S. Senate and Georgia governor races for a particular party. Did I mention Fani Willis is a Democrat?
Willis may or may not decide to prosecute, but I don’t think she’ll make her decision until after November’s election. I may be wrong. This investigation is political in nature. The special grand jury is a marvelous instrument for truth-finding, but in this case it’s more grist for the goose of politics.
I suppose it’s possible they might find a smoking gun that the January 6th commission has overlooked. It’s possible they might find something so heinous as to force Willis into a decision. I think Willis would love to prosecute Trump, but she’ll do it only if she’s very sure of a conviction. Any hint of bias in the trial of a former president would not end well, not to mention making Atlanta ground zero of a national civil war. (If my history memory serves me correctly, Atlanta was burned to ashes in the first one.)
Time for some rank punditry, because that’s why you’re all here. I think the best outcome is for Trump’s influence to wane at the ballot box. He will always have his supporters, but the more the GOP is divided from them the better. Trump will keep his $100 million-plus cash hoard. Let him have it: the spoils of the grift of his lifetime. Paid in full.
For years, Trump will be paying lawyers to keep him out of court in New York and other places. If Willis decides to prosecute, she needs to prepare for years of legal war against some very erudite lawyers. It will drain the budget and the news headlines for the strapped Fulton D.A. office. They’re years behind, with an insane backlog of 1.6 million felony outcome records that have not been properly recorded. Background checks are failing because of this. Would we rather have a functioning D.A. office in Atlanta, or a political retribution machine to take down Trump, where the Manhattan D.A. and the U.S. Congress has failed?
I’d rather not see Trump tried in Georgia, not unless there’s an indisputable smoking gun. But I do want to see Trump in the rear view mirror, and not the one etched “objects may be closer than they appear.”
A peek into Trump’s future is pretty cloudy, but two things are clear. A mountain of cash, and an army of lawyers. Everything else is shrouded in a foul stench.
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