Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Don't Arraign on My Parade

We would have bet good money that it was Ethel Merman who performed that song on Broadway. But no, it was actually Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. In fairness to us, Streisand—then a relative unknown—was clearly mimicking Merman's style.

In any case, "parade" is a pretty good starting point, because the scene outside the courthouse on the day of Donald Trump's arraignment had the feel of a carnival. Hundreds of his supporters congregated there, chanting "We want Trump!" and "Lock her up!" There were also choruses of "Happy Birthday" because today, as chance would have it, is Trump's 77th birthday. And there was a man who felt that the best statement he could make was to wear a MAGA hat and an American flag as a cape, and to carry a stick with a real pig's head impaled upon it. There were also counter-protesters, of course, most notably a man in an old-timey black-and-white-striped convict's outfit and a sign that said "Lock him up!" The important thing is that, thanks to effective crowd control, there was no violence.

The day also witnessed a mini-parade of third-tier Republican presidential candidates. Vivek Ramaswamy was there to hold a rally, and to make clear that his supporters (both of them) know that if he's elected president, he will pardon Trump. Miami mayor Francis Suarez (R), who has once again been teasing a presidential run this week, was also there. Officially, he was there to oversee the police presence. However, he also spent much time trying to press the flesh with Trumpy voters, and to otherwise do some retail politics. Given that the crowd chanted "RINO! RINO! RINO!" when they saw Suarez, he might want to rethink that whole presidential thing.

As to the hearing itself, Trump did not utter a word, though he did get in plenty of glowering at the judge and at the prosecution, including Jack Smith, who was in the courtroom. Here is the courtroom sketch of Trump produced yesterday:

Trump and three of his attorneys,
sketched in brown and yellow and orange shades of charcoal.

These sketches are rarely flattering, and Trump is hardly a male model. But even allowing for those things, boy howdy, it is not pretty. It looks like the picture of Dorian Gray.

Once the proceedings were underway, the former president's new attorney, Todd Blanche, entered a plea of "not guilty" to each of the 37 counts. The primary topic of discussion, at the insistence of Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman (Aileen Cannon will take over later in the process), was whether or not Trump is allowed to talk to other witnesses in the case. Inasmuch as some of the witnesses, along with co-defendant Walt Nauta, work for Trump, it is somewhat impractical to impose a blanket "no talking" order. Eventually, all parties agreed that specifics would be hammered out later, but that Trump cannot discuss the case with Nauta or anyone else who might testify. In other words, "Bring me a Diet Coke, Walt!' is OK, but "Don't you think it would be best, Walt, if you didn't testify?" is not. Given how very much respect both Trump and Nauta have shown for playing by the rules, we are just certain they will honor this instruction to the letter.

Speaking of Nauta, he doesn't have counsel yet, at least not in Florida. So, he was not able to enter a plea. He will have to return to court to tie up that loose end at a future date. No word yet on whether the man with the pig head on a stick will be there for that auspicious occasion.

After he was done in court, Trump and his caravan headed to Versailles. No, not the French palace, the Cuban restaurant (and note, it is pronounced Ver-sigh-yes, not Ver-sigh). Trump added that stop in order to send several messages: (1) He's not bothered by this whole documents brouhaha, (2) the court case will not affect his campaign, (3) he's a man of the people, and (4) he is simpatico with the Latino community. None of this is true, of course, but it's nonetheless a good example of "If life gives you lemons, make a mojito."

Following the Cuban restaurant (and another chorus of "Happy Birthday"), Trump returned to Bedminster to give a speech. If you really want to hear it, here it is:

It's 35 minutes long, and undoubtedly any reader of this site could have written the text, if they had a couple of minutes to spare. Nonetheless, we're a full service site, so we give you the main points:

This same basic speech will undoubtedly be delivered dozens of times in the next several months.

At this moment, Trump faces an interesting calculus, because the needs of his political career and the needs of his legal cases(s) are in conflict. From a legal standpoint, he is far better off keeping his mouth shut, and even abandoning his presidential run so that he can focus on keeping himself out of prison. From a political standpoint, on the other hand, he needs to open his mouth (or his Truth Social app) on a daily basis, so as to keep his base believing that there's nothing to these charges and it's all just a witch hunt.

That said, Trump doesn't think like this. His response to the court case will not be governed by his political needs or his legal needs, it will be governed by his completely unchecked id. And if anyone in his family or on his legal team pushes back on that approach, he'll tell them that it's OK for him to blather because when (not if) he wins the presidency back, he can pardon himself. Never mind that the worse the criminal case gets, the longer his odds of reelection get. Also never mind that all the presidential pardons in the world won't save his bacon (his country ham?) in Georgia.

On the subject of politics, it would appear that roughly half the GOP primary field is now persuaded that there might just have been some shenanigans here. We wrote about Sen. Tim Scott and Nikki Haley yesterday, while Asa Hutchinson, who has been running in the NeverTrump lane, was the first wannabe GOP president to acknowledge that this might not be a witch hunt. Now, Mike Pence has read the indictment, and he said: "Having read the indictment, these are very serious allegations. And I can't defend what is alleged." If Pence hadn't read the indictment previously, then why was he previously railing against the DoJ? It's almost like he just revealed that he has a propensity to go off half-cocked, before he knows all the information. Sounds just like the kind of person who should have the nuclear codes.

And then there is Chris Christie who, for his part, basically hemmed and hawed last week. It would seem the former governor was saving his remarks for his CNN town hall on Monday night, as he took that occasion to unload on Trump: "This is vanity run amok... Ego run amok, and he is now going to put this country through this when we didn't have to go through it. Everyone's blaming the prosecutors. He did it. It's his conduct." Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, Christie also opined that this is "a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment."

On the other side of the political aisle, the silence continued. There's no upside for the Democrats in weighing in, at least at this moment, since that will just give Trump and other Republicans something to attack, and thus would provide a distraction. Expect the silence to continue for the foreseeable future, not only because it makes sense, but because Joe Biden has ordered the White House staff, the members of his campaign and the DNC to keep their mouths shut.

So, what's next? That's not clear yet, since Trump's new attorney just joined his team, and will need time to get up to speed. That said, there are plenty of people out there noting that this particular branch of the federal judiciary (i.e., the Southern District of Florida) is known for its "rocket docket." So, there could be more news very soon. Alternatively, maybe this goes to the back burner for a while, and the next big news comes out of Georgia. Or New York. (Z)

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