Trump chose this battle: He must lose it.
We cannot survive as a nation if there are two competing “regimes” and that’s what Trump wants.
The evidence of what Donald Trump has done is becoming very clear, and to me, his motives are transparently plain. Trump has made himself the enemy of the government, as it’s currently constituted, and has dared the government to either enforce its legal authority at the peril of his political and social power, or to bow.
Trump chose this battle. He chose the battleground, something important enough to make the government act to protect it, but politically insignificant in the scheme of most people’s lives. He chose a battle that his frenemy Hillary Clinton fought, came out untouched, but lost her an election she’d been preparing her whole professional life to win. Trump chose good ground to start a war he thinks he can win.
Trump must lose this battle, and the cost will be great.
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Once again, let’s go back to 2015. Trump made himself the enemy of the GOP. In the first candidate debate, the first question was would any candidate not pledge to support the nominee if it wasn’t themselves. Trump immediately, and alone, raised his hand. What followed was a procedure that doctors call orchiectomy: the GOP had its testicles removed, which is generally done when they have become cancerous. Reince Priebus was a good administrator, and an excellent fundraiser and organizer. But he was not a fighter. Trump owned him in return for a piece of worthless paper.
Now Trump literally owns the GOP. The party has no platform other than “what Trump wants.” The party has no fundraising other than lining Trump’s pockets through his “Save America” Leadership PAC. A Leadership PAC can’t be used to fund the owner’s campaign, but can be used for literally anything else—Trump can keep the money. He can also “donor swap” with other campaigns at any rate of exchange he wants, so he can charge usurious interest to get his endorsement.
This midterm election cycle is just the practice run for 2024, when Trump will execute his full strategy to place himself back in the White House. If he does, armed with “Schedule F,” Trump will own the federal government just like he owns the GOP. This is the biggest threat to our nation—that a man could own a party, then a regime. A man with tremendous social and political power, who has beaten every organization and person who has opposed him. Trump cannot win this small battle over documents, because his winning will do to President Biden what happened to Reince Priebus.
I think many people in the government and regular folks see this. Many see Trump as just an evil man, so they’re simply going to go after him for the sake of doing so. Trump’s supporters see their guy as unfairly pursued and persecuted in the first place, but “he fights.” Trump chose good ground for his battle.
In Washington County, Maryland, on September 16-18, 1862, General Robert E. Lee fought Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s force—twice as large—to a standstill, and managed to have the Army of Northern Virginia limp from the battlefield without being destroyed. McClellan was in possession of Lee’s entire battle plan, which was carelessly left wrapping cigars and found by Union soldiers, but he didn’t act quickly enough.
McClellan committed less than three quarters of his forces while Lee went all in. It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, and the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil with over 22,000 casualties. Lee, a military engineer, picked good ground, and though it was a technical victory for the Union, the war went on for nearly three long years. It could have ended at Antietam.
Donald Trump decided to keep highly classified documents he had no right to possess. He knew the government would eventually come for them. In fact, he did everything he could to entice the government to come. And now it’s likely they’re going to charge him with obstruction. Not the harder case on violating the Espionage Act or even the open-and-shut violation of the PRA that governs presidential records, because those will get bogged down.
The government has a very good case to convict Trump—the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination and owner of the Republican Party’s national apparatus and funding—of obstruction and lock him up.
Trump’s flex here will be to engage violence. He did on January 6th, and he knows people will fight for him. He is counting on the government, and President Biden, to back down, and to allow him to have a soft landing. He’s seeing Biden as McClellan, only willing to commit a small part of his forces, letting Trump get away for another few years to fight a Georgia district attorney, then run again in 2024.
Now that Trump has chosen his battle, and the government has begun its campaign against him—not to mention the thousand-odd people who stepped into the Capitol on January 6th, 2021—they are committed to scorched earth or Trump will win like he beat the GOP.
The problem here is that Democrat politicians want Trump to win because they think it helps them politically. They think voters will reject Trump and put them in power. They want power. But Trump wants it more, and they don’t think he will do what he’s clearly willing to do—go all in.
At this point, now that the battle is all but engaged, and the skirmish phase is ending, the Biden administration has one task: to win on behalf of the government. Trump doesn’t seek to win the presidency at this point. He calls the Biden administration “a regime” and seeks to overthrow it. Other Republicans parrot his language and pugilism. It’s political, and nothing can be done about that.
We can avoid a civil war, but I don’t think we can avoid violence. So here’s what I think Biden must do.
Have the DOJ proceed with all speed to indict Trump and make public the charges.
Proceed with a speedy trial—this is problematic as Trump will lawyer up and has a giant war chest ($103 million) to spend.
Tell the nation that political violence will not be tolerated. It will be met with maximum force, including calling up the National Guard.
When the violence comes, do that.
Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California in 1969, dealt with violent protesters in Berkeley. Reagan sent in the National Guard. There was bloodshed, with dozens shot, and thousands teargassed. He then said “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with, no more appeasement.” Reagan wasn’t a dictatorial nutcase, but he did believe in law and order.
Joe Biden needs to believe in law and order. Yes, the playtriots will come out and have their guns. The play Nazis will show up. The Trumpists and preppers will gather for a giant battle. But as I’ve always said, when the Bradley Fighting Vehicle rumbles down your road, the battle is over. You lose.
The only way the truth can survive here is if Trump is completely exposed and defeated, because Trump chose this battle. He’s counting on Biden to flinch, but this is the point where someone has to be the statesman and not flinch. I am not a fan of Joe Biden or his politics, but we can only have one president. We cannot survive as a nation if there are two competing “regimes” and that’s what Trump wants.
I’ve been easier on Trump than I am now, because I thought there was a way through this, but I now see there isn’t. We’ve given him too much political power, even if he picks lousy candidates like Sarah Palin and Dr. Oz.
Trump chose his battle, and now he must not walk from the battlefield unscathed. If it means a bloodbath, let’s get it over with, but I think most people will figure it out themselves.
I don't trust either party to do what it should.
Best column in a very long time Steve. This has never been a red/blue thing, it's simply good versus evil. Trump's never been a conservative, never been a republican, hell, never been a democrat. His entire life has been a scam and sham where the only outcome has been "what's in it for me."
The sad reality is his actions have corrupted an entire party. Good people who have lost their way, sold their soul and become caricatures of their former selves. You are spot on, the only way this ends, is by playing it out to his final demise.
It has nothing to do with trusting one side or the other. It is all about finally admitting how evil one man is and how far removed from reality he has become. It's a road that cannot be followed or allowed to play out. Crush him once and for all.