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No One Will Save Donald Trump

Every day of his hush money trial, Donald Trump has ranted and raved for attention. He has spoken out of turn, attempted to intimidate witnesses, complained about his treatment in the courtroom, attacked the city acting as venue, and begged and pleaded in his way, for someone to come help him.

The result has been no fewer than 10 citations for contempt of court, as Trump has tried to convince everyone from members of Congress to the Supreme Court to intervene on his behalf. Surely, he insists, there is something someone can do to rid him of this meddlesome criminal case. Maybe there’s a weakness in the jury or someone can sway or deter the witnesses brought in under oath, or something, somewhere can keep Judge Merchan from fulfilling his obligations. Trump rants and raves and keeps posting through it, hoping to invoke the same forces that have built his political career: Republican sycophancy and the looming threat of mob violence.

That, of course, was his plan in the days after the 2020 election that he lost: He would rally Republican subordinates to provide whatever resource he needed to turn the election for him, or he would have his devotees devolve upon Congress to convince them otherwise. As another official proceeding, Trump supposes that the trial should be subject to the same whims. A forceful speech from a powerful GOP supplicant, a thinly veiled threat to use federal power to punish the jury of his peers, the judge and civil servants overseeing his case, the counterprotesters who stop by to mock him, and maybe the whole city of New York for good measure, and then Trump can summon shock troops to do everyone dirty to top it all off. But for all of his efforts (and they have been numerous), there is no cavalry coming to save him. And there wouldn’t be much to do if they tried. 

This is a local case, insulated from the influence of the federal government and beyond their scope. It’s also happening in a state where most of the elected officials are openly hostile to him, and the general population is even less sympathetic. Even if there were some lever of power that could derail his trial over using business funds and resources to manipulate the 2016 campaign by trying to suppress negative stories and even pay off a former (coerced) lover, nobody in New York is inclined to lean on it for his sake. Everything that can be done to insulate him from consequence — delaying or denying his trial over stealing national secrets, rejecting the plain text of the 14th Amendment, dragging out decisions over technical issues, debating presidential immunity despite the definitive take from the D.C. Circuit — has already been used on his behalf. That the trial is happening is proof enough that there’s nothing to be done.

Trump’s helplessness has spilled out as angry Truth Social posts and increasingly unhinged, context-free rants about what he is owed and what he deserves. Each petulant demand tries to rally his supporters to his side — his last ditch attempt at overthrowing the system if he cannot avoid the truth of it. This is what he has always relied upon, since he told members of his rallies that he would cover bail and lawyers’ fees for any assaults they made on protesters, or when he “joked” about getting access to private papers of an opposing candidate, or when he spent weeks hyping up a mob to redeem the 2020 election results for him if Mike Pence wasn’t up to the job.

The response to this implicit call for violence has been tepid, at best. Outside of the courthouse, protesters usually outnumber supporters of the former president as he labors under several dozen criminal indictments. Trump chalks it up to — what else? — a conspiracy against MAGA that so few of his die-hards have shown up to threaten and intimidate — I mean, peacefully protest and defend his dignity. But whether the barriers are real or merely a figment of his imagination, the paramilitary fervor that he successfully whipped up three years ago has yet to materialize in downtown Manhattan. Maybe all of the prison sentences for January 6th insurrectionists have worn down their enthusiasm.

Whatever the reason, Donald Trump can’t play the same get out of jail free card that he’s used time and again in politics. The illegal payments on his ledger, the betrayals of his inner circle, the disregard he has shown others in pursuit of his own selfish desires have all finally come back to bite him. It might turn out in this case that yelling for someone to save him is precisely the thing that has him hauled off to jail in cuffs. And when he’s led out of the courthouse for his appointment with a holding cell, Trump will more likely than not be hearing the cheers of his opposition as his supporters slink home.

Kaitlin Byrd
Kaitlin Byrd
Knows too much, thinks even more. Has infinite space in her heart for tea and breakfast for dinner. Really from New York, so always ready to cut a bitch.