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Morning Glory: The Trump versus Biden rematch

morning-glory:-the-trump-versus-biden-rematch
Morning Glory: The Trump versus Biden rematch

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“Trump-Biden 2.0” will be nothing like the first clash in 2020 which occurred during COVID lockdowns, a shuttered economy, and days before the announcement of a vaccine.

This time around the presidential racetrack President Joe Biden also has a record as president, and while his age (and what seems to be an increasing infirmity that contrasts badly with the energy of former President Trump) is issue number one in the minds of many voters —Democrats, Independents and Republicans—the next tranche of issues are the open southern border, the impacts of three plus years of inflation on groceries, gas and housing, crime and support for Israel in its war with Hamas.  All four favor the former president over the current one.

Two events are certain to impact the campaign as well. Trump will name a running mate. I have written before: I hope it is a veteran like Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Joni Ernst, or former Secretary of State Pompeo. I also hope Trump issues a list of appointees who will serve in the most important Cabinet positions though not necessarily with specificity as to job —say Pompeo back to State or to Defense, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to CIA, former Ambassador to Germany and acting DNI Rick Grennell and former National Security Advisor Ambassador Robert O’Brien to some combination of Secretary of State, Chief of Staff or National Security Advisor, Senator Tom Cotton to Defense or Justice, former State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus to the U.N. or the Department of Homeland Security and many more.

Such a list would operate like Trump’s 2016 list of potential Supreme Court Nominees, and would reassure a crucial segment of the voting public about the national security team and provide sharp contrasts with Team Biden. The choice at the top is going to drive the election but swing states could depend on small percentages of votes so key personnel decisions could help in critical states.

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But one other huge development is certain to occur between now and November: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of Trump which is scheduled to commence this month. The merits off this phase of the “lawfare” being waged against Trump are in my view, and the views of many others like respected former Southern District of New York Prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, well known: They stink.

It is a rank political prosecution built off an alleged misdemeanor which was never prosecuted and for which the statute of limitations had passed but which Bragg resurrected via resort to a fable: that the alleged payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen somehow can be bootstrapped into 34 felony charges.

This is “count stacking” of the sort that drives defendants and their counsel crazy when they see it and which is usually condemned as an abuse of criminal process —unless an observer really, really, really hates the defendant. Then it is applauded as a necessarily evil means to the good end.

“Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” was the infamous boast of Stalin’s Chief Secret Police Lavrentiy Beria. Manipulating the criminal justice system to take out political opponents is the stuff of the most corrupt regimes in history and of tyrants and juntas. This is the category for Bragg’s stunt.

I find it hard to imagine Trump can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and the odds before D.A. Bragg and the judge start tossing prospective jurors aren’t great. Overall in New York City four years ago Biden received 2,321,759 votes, 76%, to Trump’s 691,682 votes, or 23%. Hillary Clinton 79% did better, winning 79% of the vote in Gotham to Trump’s 18% in 2016.

Add in the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2017 and the non-stop and one-sided campaign of vilification against Trump by the stacked and manipulative House Select Committee on January 6 —the first and only such “committee” in the House’s history that was engineered to replicate a Kangaroo Court of the worst sort— and the potential jurors willing to head Trump’s case with an open mind falls even more.

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Even should 34 convictions result and a significant sentence handed down. however, this soon-to-open rival of any Broadway spectacle or New York City circus holds the very real prospect of adding jet fuel to Trump’s campaign, even as it did to his primary romp.

“Trust the people” was a saying of which Winston Churchill was very fond. It applies here. Not only will the McCarthys of the world —serious former prosecutors who have never been huge fans of Trump but who also have enormous respect for the rule of law— be speaking out daily about the abuse of process here, so too will every defendant who ever felt wronged by a prosecutor be thinking that what is happening to Trump is just what happened to them. Which demographic is most often associated with overcharging and prosecutorial misconduct? African American males? NBC’s Steve Kornacki has confirmed for me that Trump is always polling better with this crucial demographic in the upcoming election than any Republican since 1968.

On National Public Radio’s Morning Edition yesterday I pronounced myself an “outlier” on the Manhattan case. I think this prosecution will almost inevitably help Trump’s campaign. Contrary voices have counseled me that it will be weeks of the Access Hollywood tape recycled again and again and again, with Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels on the stand and Trump seated and unable to speak, glowering all the while. Expect a ridiculous gag order to restrict the former president. Expect a huge sentence.

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And expect an even bigger backlash against this abuse of the criminal justice system. Trust the people.

Democrats and the Left generally wagered everything on getting Trump renominated and combing that with “lawfare” to handicap him in the general election. Thus far it has got them a 9-0 thrashing in the United States Supreme Court on the Colorado Supreme Court absurd decision and the tawdry display of Fanni Willis and Nathan Wade in Georgia.

“The best laid plans of mice and men….” occurs to many minds. When the dust settles on Election 2024 and a former president pulls a Grover Cleveland in the 21rst century, one of the people to thank will be Alvin Bragg. 

Hugh Hewitt is one of the country’s leading journalists of the center-right. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990, and it is today syndicated to hundreds of stations and outlets across the country every Monday through Friday morning. Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and this column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his forty years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio show today.

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