How to talk about the very latest Trump indictment

Posted on August 8, 2023

Finally, Trump was indicted for his illegal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. He and his allies responded with a flurry of excuses and lies. We’ll all be talking about this for the next year, so what do you say?

Remember, most Americans are not persuadable, but that’s okay. You are aiming at conservative-leaners who still have a conscience.

As always, you must start in agreement. Say something like,

“In America, no one is above the law. Anyone who commits a crime must be held accountable.”

We don’t usually suggest a lot of purely factual arguments, but there is one rather unique point you need to make right up front:

“In this case, virtually all of the evidence comes from Republicans. The witnesses are Trump’s own Republican staff members and Republican officials like Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump didn’t ask Democrats to commit crimes for him, obviously, he pressured Republicans.”

This is important because it helps rebut allegations of bias. Then end confidently with the truth:

“The evidence against Trump, from Republicans not Democrats, is overwhelming. Our justice system cannot ignore these crimes just because they were committed by someone famous. Trump deserves all the rights of any criminal defendant, of course, but the evidence says he is guilty.”

There is another unusual aspect of this case—once in court, Trump can’t and won’t dispute the facts. All his far-fetched arguments are about legal standards and procedures. These will probably all be offered up in motions—and flatly rejected—before the trial ever starts. It’s just like the Jean Carroll vs. Trump civil rape case where neither Trump nor anyone else testified in his defense.

MAGA argument: Trump was just following the advice of his attorneys.

Say in response: The Special Prosecutor has already proven that Trump was repeatedly advised to stop by his own lawyers as well as the lawyers Trump himself appointed at the Department of Justice. Further, even if a lawyer says you can rob a bank, it’s still illegal. This argument has no chance in any court of law.

MAGA argument: Trump was just exercising his First Amendment rights.

Say in response: Surely you understand that a criminal defendant’s words can be used against him at trial. It doesn’t violate Trump’s First Amendment rights to play the tape recording where he urged the Georgia Secretary of State “to find 11,780 votes.” In fact, Trump has confessed on social media to many of his illegal actions. To a large extent, Trump’s words establish his own guilt.

MAGA argument: The case should be moved out of Washington, D.C. because the jury pool will be biased.

Say in response: In America, criminal defendants are tried where the crime happened. This crime happened, overwhelmingly, in Washington, D.C. Also, as everyone knows, Trump’s lawyers will be able to challenge prospective jurors for bias, just like any other trial. Those are the rules for everyone—America cannot make special rules for Trump.

MAGA argument: What about Hunter Biden? He got a good plea deal with prosecutors.

Say in response: Hunter Biden should be prosecuted like anyone else, but this is irrelevant to Donald Trump’s case. The evidence of Trump’s guilt—virtually all of it coming from Trump’s own staff and from Republican officials—is overwhelming. That’s what we’re talking about.

MAGA argument: Trump is being unfairly persecuted by the “weaponized” Department of Justice/President Biden/the “deep state”/some other absurd conspiracy theory.

Say in response: It is not Biden or Democrats or the Deep State who are testifying against Trump. Virtually all the evidence is from Republicans or from what Trump himself has said. Look, you know Trump is not going to testify at the trial because his claims would be destroyed on cross-examination. And it’s unlikely that anyone involved, like Rudy Giuliani, will testify for Trump because it would be self-incrimination. Face it, in a court of law, where both sides have to prove their claims with evidence, Trump has no defense because he actually and obviously committed these crimes.