How to talk about the latest Trump indictment

Posted on June 14, 2023

Trump’s been indicted and MAGA is struggling to defend him. But there’s no way to argue he’s innocent. So instead, the MAGA arguments are designed to change the subject.

These arguments are logical fallacies. And they satisfy the MAGA base for the moment but will not work as time grinds on. Eventually, everyone who could possibly be persuaded will focus on the crimes rather than the misdirection. Perhaps 20 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are susceptible to reality. Our job is to help them focus on the crimes.

MAGA argument: It’s a witch hunt! (that is, attacks DOJ/FBI/CIA/Jack Smith rather than the substance of the charges)

Say, in reply:

You are intentionally avoiding the actual criminal charges. What matters is, did Donald Trump violate the Espionage Act and obstruct justice? The evidence of his guilt is overwhelming. If anybody else in the world did this, they’d be in prison already. And I think you know that.

MAGA argument: It’s dangerous to indict a former president!

Say, in reply:

I notice you are not claiming that Trump is innocent. That’s because, obviously, he’s not. In fact, it’s dangerous when a former president blatantly violates the law and he’s not prosecuted for it. If you let people break the law without consequences, they will do it over and over again. America must treat everyone equally under the law.

MAGA argument: If they can come for Trump, they can come for you!

Say, in reply:

You’re not even attempting to defend Trump’s criminal behavior. The fact is, if somebody else ever does what Trump did—defy subpoenas, hide nuclear secrets and war plans, and lie about it—yes, the Justice Department must prosecute them. Nobody is coming for you because, unlike Trump, you are not a criminal.

MAGA argument: But what about Biden/Pence/Hillary? Why aren’t they prosecuted?

Say, in reply:

Now you’re admitting that Trump held onto classified documents. The difference between the cases is obvious. When classified matters were discovered in the office(s) of [Biden/Pence/Hillary], they immediately and voluntarily turned them over. Trump did not and the government had to issue a subpoena. After receiving the court order, Trump responded with lies and hiding documents all over Mar-a-Lago. Every single count of the indictment is about Trump’s obstruction after the subpoena was issued in May 2022. And these crimes are fully proven.

MAGA argument: There’s not enough evidence!

Say, in reply:

If you say that, you are not paying attention. This is an open and shut case. Trump had hundreds of classified documents, including war plans and nuclear secrets, that he was not allowed to have. After he was subpoenaed, Trump lied to the FBI, ordered his lawyers to lie, moved documents so they were harder to find while privately bragging about having them. As Trump’s former Attorney General, Bob Barr, said on Fox News, “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast.”

MAGA argument: He shouldn’t be indicted unless it’s proven that he delivered classified documents to our enemies! (Yes, some argue this.)

Say, in reply:

Do you realize what you are saying? You are arguing that Trump should be held to a different legal standard than everybody else, that we should intentionally discard the American principle of equal justice under the law. You are saying we should give him a pass as long as we can’t prove he committed outright treason. That’s insane.

MAGA argument: The prosecution will just help Trump politically.

Say, in reply:

Maybe it helps him fight off challengers within the Republican base, but so what? He was going to win the nomination anyway. Because of these charges and the inevitable trial, Trump will lose a significant percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents—the ones who still care about America. The argument that prosecution helps Trump win the presidency is a fantasy.

MAGA argument: The prosecution makes us look bad internationally.

Say, in reply:

It is quite the opposite. Our allies are watching to see if we obey our own American system of justice. They overwhelmingly believe that Trump is both a criminal and a danger to the world. Prosecution makes us look very, very good to our allies. Only Russia opposes the prosecution of Trump.

MAGA argument: New York mistakenly prosecuted Trump over the Stormy Daniels payoff coverup.

Say, in reply:

You are misrepresenting what a few lawyers have argued. They are not saying that Trump is innocent in the Stormy Daniels payoff case. Trump admitted paying Daniels. He also forged dozens of business records to hide the payments, which was unquestionably illegal. The technical, academic argument you hear is about whether he committed a felony versus a misdemeanor. Either way, he could be sentenced to serious jail time. And remember, the Trump Organization has already been found guilty of 17 felonies based on falsifying business records. Trump is a crook, that’s what matters.

MAGA argument: A jury did not rule that Trump is a rapist.

Say, in reply:

Following two weeks of testimony, a jury found that Donald Trump committed “sexual abuse.” Specifically, he forcefully stuck his fingers into the plaintiff’s vagina in a department store dressing room. Some Trump apologists say that’s not technically “rape.” But isn’t that the most disgraceful defense you’ve ever heard in your life? In fact, the dictionary definition of “rape” is “unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina…without the consent of the person subjected to such penetration.” So, under the non-technical, plain English definition, Trump has been adjudicated a rapist. And whatever you call it, it is now shameful and indefensible to support this man for public office.

MAGA argument: What about Hunter Biden, what about Hillary?

Say, in reply:

We are talking about crimes committed by Donald Trump. You have no defense, so you try to change the subject. As for Hunter Biden, if he’s guilty like Trump, he should be prosecuted. As for Hillary Clinton, the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General investigated her thoroughly and found nothing to prosecute. Face facts, the evidence against Trump is staggering. It is irresponsible to ignore his criminality.

In summary, Orwellian Big Lies are a defining feature of the MAGA movement. These are lies that are both huge and absurd. One is the lie that Trump won the 2020 election, even though he lost by seven million votes. Another is the lie that COVID-19 was not a dangerous emergency, even though it killed over a million Americans. We now have a third Big Lie, that Trump was wrongly indicted by the Special Prosecutor, even though the evidence is so extensive that no prosecutor could ignore it.

And duh, there are two more sets of indictments still to come!