Donald Trump is the undisputed world heavyweight champion for getting away with bullshit so bad that it would bury any other politician upside-down to their ankles. Nobody has been able fully to explain why.
“He’s not a politician,” goes the refrain, but yes he is. Yes, he is. He is running for office. He has PACs, campaign commercials, campaign staffers, he holds delirious political rallies better suited to Huey Long standing on a tree stump with an ax in his hand back when the Depression didn’t have a name yet.
Trump is by all measures the most purely gifted political animal the country has ever produced. He defies courts, borrows money, screws lenders, stiffs workers, dares them not to sue him over the loan. And when he does finally get brought into court, he employs the kind delaying tactics that would still see the Japanese Army fighting for tiny islands in the Pacific 81 year after Pearl Harbor.
In another sense, the rules are, of course, applicable. Do In other words, Trump is exempted from the law because the legal system was built to allow him to do so, even if it means making extreme exemptions.
“A federal judge’s extraordinary decision on Monday to interject in the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida residence showed unusual solicitude to him, legal specialists said,” reports Charlie Savage for The New York Times. “This was ‘an unprecedented intervention by a federal district judge into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation,’ said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at University of Texas.”
Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee and member of the right-wing Federalist Society, has ordered a special master to be placed in charge of the hoard of top-secret documents recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. The order gives the special master broad powers to determine what may or not be covered by legal privilege and prevents investigators from looking at the documents until the master tells them otherwise.
Trump and his Republican Party have been greatly hampered by the order. The investigation into Trump’s astonishing mishandling of incredibly sensitive intelligence materials was turning into the kind of legal hairball that even the luckiest of politicos fail to survive, and further threatened to turn the entire 2022 midterm election into a dual referendum on Trump and Roe. The paper chase is temporarily suspended.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid questioned Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for The NationOn the ruling. “How on Earth could a judge who made it through law school think that Donald Trump can take the property of the government, the federal government, take it home and then have to have a special master decide whether they can investigate him?” she asked.
“Because she’s biased and corrupt,” Mystal replied. “I’ve been saying this since he took office. You get nothing if you allow Republicans to control courts. Trump judges don’t believe in the rule-of-law. They do not believe that precedent is valid. They don’t believe in facts. They don’t believe logic. They just believe in whatever’s going to help Donald Trump and they’ve proven it again and again and again.”
This may all come to nothing in the fullness of time, but it does give Trump’s defenders a long opportunity to chop away at issues of attorney-client and executive privilege, both of which reside in a foggy realm thanks to the nuances of presidential power. The White House has never met a Trump-like figure, which means that the boundaries of acceptable behavior have not been established.
“Executive privilege refers to private communications presidents have with their advisers and other types of internal communications within the executive branch that are withheld from public release,” reports CNN. “While disputes over the privilege have come up in congressional investigations, the reaches of executive privilege — particularly when a former president is arguing it should apply when a current president is declining to assert it — is an unsettled area of law.”
Although the decision is almost certain to be appealed to, I believe the Roberts Rogues will handle this appropriately about as well as the Red Sox bullpen, which should get to the ninth without raining home runs on the bleacher seats.
Donald Trump has yet again been blessed. He will have to work hard behind his plans to run for the presidency again and will use these legal maneuvers in order to raise funds, while he indulges in martyrdom. There are hundreds upon hundreds of Trump judges in the country, with three of them sitting on the highest court.
The legal system was designed to help people like Trump, and not to make them fall. This is the world we live and, while it may seem alarming, it should not be surprising.