Press: Get orange jumpsuit ready: extra large
There’s no list of requirements for becoming Republican leader of the U.S. House or Senate. If there were, being smart is clearly not one of them. Look at Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell.
Ignoring other saner voices in their party — like Liz Cheney, Christine Todd Whitman, Barbara Comstock, George Conway, or Michael Steele — McCarthy and McConnell have concluded that the key to winning back the House and Senate in 2022, and the White House in 2024, is 100 percent loyalty to Donald Trump. If he doesn’t like Cheney, boot her out. If he doesn’t want a Jan. 6 Truth Commission, kill it.
And both clueless leaders will rattle off all the reasons they see for sticking with Trump. He enjoys an 82 percent favorable rating among Republican voters. Seven out of ten Republicans believe the Big Lie that Trump, not Joe Biden, won the last election. And Trump, who’s apparently serious about running for reelection in 2024, has $85 million in his Save America PAC.
How blind can they be? Yes, Trump may have all that going for him. There’s only one problem. A year from now, Trump may not be free to enjoy those advantages. Because he may be too busy fighting criminal charges in court.
Nobody knows how it will play out. But there’s no denying this: All politics aside, Donald Trump today is in serious legal jeopardy — on at least four fronts.
First, in New York state, where he is facing not one, but two separate criminal investigations into his financial dealings prior to becoming president. The first, by New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., underway since 2018 and reportedly focused on potential bank fraud, tax fraud, and hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, became much more serious for Trump after the Supreme Court granted Vance access to eight years of Trump’s tax returns.
More bad news for Trump came last week, when New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that she was upgrading her office’s own investigation of Trump from a civil to a criminal investigation — which, legal experts agree, she did only because her initial investigation uncovered evidence of Trump’s direct knowledge of and willingness to commit an illegal act.
As if that’s not bad enough, Trump’s also under yet another criminal investigation by two different grand juries in Fulton County, Ga., for allegedly placing undue pressure on state election officials to change the official outcome of the vote on Nov. 3, 2020 — including his desperate plea in a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Also working its way through the legal system — and still alive, though Trump’s lawyers have done everything they can to derail it — is a lawsuit by journalist E. Jean Carroll, accusing Trump of sexually assaulting her in the fall of 1995 in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. That case is now on hold, pending a DNA sample from Trump to compare against unidentified male DNA on the black dress Carroll was wearing at the time. (Sound familiar?)
Again, nobody knows how or when the legal process will play out — although Vance is expected to wind up his investigation before his resignation at the end of 2021 — but there’s no doubt, as President George H.W. Bush would say, that Donald Trump is in “deep doo-doo.”
No longer enjoying presidential immunity, there’s at least a 50-50 chance that Trump could well become the first former president to face criminal charges or time in prison.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”