Resolute Square

The Revenge Presidency

Rick Wilson writes: "When Trump promised to '…root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,' you should substitute those words for 'anyone who criticizes me, opposes me, or has brought charges against me for my crimes.'"
Published:May 30, 2024

By Rick Wilson

Yesterday brought to a close Donald Trump’s porn-payment election fraud coverup trial. Convicted on all counts. I’ll spare you that any other human on Earth would have never been in such a cock-up, any candidate with even a scintilla of decency or shame would have withdrawn from public life, and no one in the history of electoral politics would retain the slavish obedience of their party and followers in such an event.

With Trump found guilty in this case, his calls for revenge will become louder, more pointed, and more specific.

You already know that. This entire campaign is a long promise of retaliation and I have a pretty keen nose for what’s in the MAGA wind — typically a mixture of racial animus, Temu knockoff Axe Body Spray, imaginary oppression, lurid conspiracies, and revanchist threats — and lately, I’m picking up three trends that bode ill for America if Trump stumbles, shambles, and scams his way back into the Oval Office.

Normalizing Revenge

As someone already facing the kind of civil lawfare Trump and his allies are exercising against their critics — yes, Mike Flynn appealed his case against me after losing in the lower courts, and I continue to write 5-figure monthly checks for legal bills, which is exactly the point of their lawfare — you can bet I’m highly attuned to the threats that a future Trump Administration and their Republican allies in State Attorney General’s offices are committed to deploying the power of prosecution against his enemies at every level of public and civic life.

When Trump promised to “…root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country,” you should substitute those words for “anyone who criticizes me, opposes me, or has brought charges against me for my crimes.”

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Much of Trump’s performative attack Kabuki against the judges and prosecutors in his numerous legal cases centers around the fantasy that somehow Joe Biden’s White House is secretly directing each case like some legal puppeteer. They’re teeing up a sweeping revenge play.

This Washington Post piece from November of 2023 is a huge red flag:

In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and former attorney general William P. Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, according to people who have talked to him, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department, a person familiar with the matter said.

That’s just one of hundreds of stories about Trump’s desire for revenge and the plans of his crapulous constellation of allies and enablers to make it happen.

This from Reuters focuses on how Trump will turn the Department of Justice into an attack machine:

Some of Donald Trump's allies are assembling proposals to curtail the Justice Department's independence and turn the nation's top law enforcement body into an attack dog for conservative causes, nine people involved in the effort told Reuters.

First: flood the Justice Department with stalwart conservatives unlikely to say "no" to controversial orders from the White House. Second: restructure the department so key decisions are concentrated in the hands of administration loyalists rather than career bureaucrats.

It’s not just prosecutors. Look at this insane video Trump posted on Trash Social. One of his followers accosted Joe Scarborough at an airport:

"He’ll get rid of all you fucking liberals. You liberals are gone when he fucking wins. You fucking blowjob liberals are done. Uncle Donnie’s gonna take this election—landslide. Landslide, you fucking half a blowjob. Landslide. Get the fuck out of here, you scumbag.”

Why did Trump post this? Because he wants his followers — just as he did on January 6th — to get on the stochastic terror bandwagon. (On a side note, if liberals become the party of blowjobs, we’re going to need some focus group research to see how this changes the election.)

Finally, Trump is hoping that both Congress and Republican Attorney Generals in the states will help weaponize his revenge strategy, tying down his opponents with massive legal fees and endless investigations. Though the House looks less promising to Trump than it might have, the State AGs are a powerful group.

I had a Republican friend give me the “There are plenty of guardrails and institutions and laws” speech about this the other day, and even he stopped himself when he understood how hollow it sounds.

The Red Court Goes All-In

John Roberts could be a great Chief Justice who protected the Court as an element of our tripartite government from the reek of partisanship and ideological hackery. He could stand up to the increasingly activist wing of the Federalist Society’s burn-it-down movement and go down in history.

He won’t.

The distractions like Sam Alito’s varied and frankly pernicious lies about his flag habits are less consequential than the raging dumpster fire of Clarence Thomas's donor-funded lifestyle, financial relationship to sugar-daddy Harlan Crowe, and refusal to recuse himself from January 6th cases, even given wife Ginny’s direct role in the Stop the Steal conspiracy and the January 6th attack.

Roberts may also be the deciding vote on whether Donald Trump enjoys near-absolute immunity from criminal exposure, and he most certainly played games with the timing of the decision, helping Trump run out the clock on the serious Federal cases facing the mobster-in-chief.

I strongly suspect this Court is leaderless and terrified of the Mob, though they’d never admit it. Roberts, in my theory of the case, still hopes for some collegial outcome, but this Court is no longer governed by the old ways and the old rules.

It’s likely that Leonard Leo, the Tenth Justice, will get his way on nearly everything in the coming months — including the inevitable cases challenging the election results if Trump loses. Leo is clearly implementing the end game of his Long March through the Court, transforming it into an arm of his political machine, not in the image of conservative, disciplined jurisprudence.

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The Bigger Lies

If you thought Trump was a lying liar who lied before, expect it to get much, much worse. One of the most marked aspects of the era of Trump is that lying in public and private matters has been so thoroughly denatured and diminished that it no longer seems to matter.

Major media outlets too often shrug off Trump’s absolute commitment to lying about everything.

Too often, they can’t keep up, and too often, they report the statement without stamping a giant red LIE on every quote from the most mendacious man ever to hold office. His portfolio for 2024 includes an endless river of lies about Joe Biden, about his own record, the economy then and now, immigration, and history, in addition to the usual lies about the size of his crowds, the depth of his support, the size of his penis, his wealth, his golf score, and his weight.

His online acolytes post AI-generated photos of Donald Trump standing with smiling African-Americans, Donald Trump storming the beaches of Normandy, Donald Trump sitting in court with Jesus as his wingman, and no one blinks an eye. His weird media acolytes produce ads claiming Trump was sent by God, and evangelicals purr contentedly.

Watch for a massive flood of AI-generated Trump agitprop in the coming months. When you see the Joe Biden video of the President saying, “I want to eat live babies and kill your dogs,” try to keep your credulity in check, no matter how convincing it looks.

I keep running back to the central issue that in a political culture defined by shamelessness, lying has no greater impact on the views held about Trump. His supporters enjoy watching the normies react in horror to the lies.

Donald Trump’s entire life is a concatenating series of ever-increasing lies, a pyramid of bullshit so enormous and so profound that ordinary people have trouble processing its scope. What we see now isn’t an even bigger commitment to the bit and even broader acceptance of every lie that comes out of his pie hole.

It’s that Trump‘s smarter servants and lackeys have deeply internalized how beneficial Steve Bannon's “flood the zone with shit” strategy can be to them in the coming election cycle. Forcing journalists to chase the rabbit of Trump‘s deceptions at all times, to constantly try to refute his false statements, even as he adds new ones to his catalog, is a weapon the Democrats need to counter, stat.