Trump Claims He Has Every Right To Prosecute His Enemies

INSIDE: Steve Bannon ... Aileen Cannon ... Troy Nehls
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks as former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio looks on during a Turning Point PAC town hall at Dream City Church on June 06, 2024 in Phoenix, A... PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks as former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio looks on during a Turning Point PAC town hall at Dream City Church on June 06, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump delivered remarks and took questions from the audience during the 'chase the vote' town hall. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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‘I Would Have Every Right To Go After Them’

Surveying the news of the past 24 hours, we’re presented with a particularly sobering reflection of our current state of affairs. I will lay it out brick by brick in the items below, but first I want to circle back to Donald Trump’s appearance two nights ago on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program.

Hannity asked a leading question, clearly trying to throw Trump a softball that will let him deny his intention to use the office of the presidency to exact retribution against his political foes – even though Trump has spent many months now promising to do precisely that.

At first, Trump took the easy swing and suggested that he won’t perpetuate what he implies is a cycle of retribution he’s already been victimized by. But then he launched into an extended justification of doing exactly what he had just disclaimed and asserting that he has “every right to go after them”:

Don’t be confused by the two-step shuffle Trump just did there. Disclaiming his intent to commit a bad act that he says he has the right to commit is not reassuring in the slightest. Committing or threatening to commit bad acts is the classic strongman move, but so is promising to forbear from committing a bad act.

Reserving to himself the power to decide whether to transgress is no less a strongman flex than actual transgression. It’s all part of the same dance of threat, intimidation, bullying, and aggression. To draw from the domestic abuse context: Don’t make me hurt you.

David Corn efficiently runs through the history of Trump’s promises of revenge, their inextricable connection to his obsession with violence, and how easily they flow from his preferred posture of victim. The bully as victim, the oppressor as oppressed, the abuser as abused.

Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade has a new essay on Trump’s threats of revenage and their consequences. After running through all the checks and balances that would limit the president’s ability to use the justice system as a tool of political reprisal, McQuade then asks what the point of it all really is. This part of her answer is spot on:

Even if politically motivated prosecutions ultimately fail, just bringing charges would be enough to tilt the playing field. If the public can be convinced that all prosecutors are corrupt partisan actors, then their work may be disregarded as mere political gamesmanship, and Trump’s convictions and impeachments will no longer matter. The result is to give Trump — and other political actors — license to commit all manner of crimes in the future.

It goes back to the classic strongman targets: judges, legislators, the press, the education system, even artists. Any power centers that are beyond the strongman’s control are a threat to him. Delegitimizing them serves the same purpose as more direct attacks. It undermines their power over him.

With that in mind, let’s survey the day’s news.

A GOP Election Clerk v. MAGA In A World Of Lies

An exceptional NYT piece on the plight of Cindy Elgan, the Republican election official in Esmeralda County, Nevada, who faced a recall attempt – in a county that went 82% for Trump in 2020 – because some conspiracy-minded residents thought he should have won by a larger margin.

The Grim New Reality

TPM’s Khaya Himmelman: Add Fentanyl-Laced Mail-In Ballots To The List Of Threats Election Officials Must Guard Against In The Fall

Capitol Police Jeered By GOP Legislators

Some Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives jeered, booed, and walked out when two former Capitol Police officers who defended against the Jan. 6 attack were introduced on the floor chamber Wednesday.

Trump II Will Assert Sweeping Powers Over Federal Spending

WaPo: Donald Trump is vowing to wrest key spending powers from Congress if elected this November, promising to assert more control over the federal budget than any president in U.S. history.

Does Trump Have A Deal With Putin?

Chris Hayes places Trump’s outrageous cooptation of the case of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich for his political ends into some dreary historical context:

Bannon Ordered To Report To Prison

Absent intervention by a federal appeals court, MAGA world figure Steve Bannon must report to prison by July 1 to begin serving his four-month sentence for contempt of Congress for rebuffing the House Jan. 6 committee.

‘Isolated and Inexperienced’

Former TPMer and Ft. Pierce, Florida native Tierney Sneed co-authors an in-depth profile of Ft. Pierce’s only federal judge: Aileen Cannon.

What To Make Of The Hunter Biden Case

With President Biden promising not to pardon his son Hunter, Ankush Khardori has a thoughtful look at the Delaware gun case brought by Special Counsel David Weiss and what makes it so unusual.

Stolen Valor

NOTUS: House Republicans are accusing fellow Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) of stolen valor for continuing to wear a Combat Infantryman Badge pin from Afghanistan that he was awarded by mistake.

I’m Not Crying. Nope. Not Me.

Have A Splendid Weekend!

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