As multiple investigations (FBI, Senate, House et.al.) continue and as media reports detailing items related to charges of the Trump campaign collusion with Russia. It appears that Trump will eventually have to settle on a strategy for dealing with the implication that the President of the United States, committed treason to get there. Unlike a courtroom where a defendant can present multiple theories describing their innocence, hoping to convince a single juror. Trump will eventually have to come up with a single strategy because he cannot present to the public more than one version of his truth.
There are hints of what defenses Donald Trump might attempt. Or he could try what has worked to some degree for others. Here are some of the ways Trump might attempt to defend himself and the potential pitfalls.
- The Chris Christie Defense: This defense relies on his ability to deny any personal involvement like Christie in Bridgegate, despite the coordinated efforts of all the top people around him. It requires we suspend belief and accept that his underlings individually and jointly decided to work with Russia. Several of them actively purporting to be speaking on behalf of the candidate/President. We must believe that his top advisors including some family members went unnoticed when they traveled to Europe and elsewhere to meet with Russian officials. We also have to conclude that Trump is a puppet who simply repeated what he read in InfoWars or Breitbart or saw on Fox & Friends which just happened to coincide exactly with Russian propaganda. This strategy depends on all the participants showing great personal loyalty to Trump. Refusing to name him as a participant or if they do, lacking the credibility to make it stick. Where it falls apart is that because Trump was new to government. These are new associates with whom he had no deep long-standing relationship. Can he really expect Carter Page or Mike Flynn to choose Federal prison if given the chance to name Trump and possibly go free? The other problem is that some of the people involved are family. Will Ivanka stay silent if Jared goes to jail? Will Donald, Jr, and Eric watch their father stand silent as they take the rap? After two years of Trump claiming he keeps his own counsel and makes all the decisions. The Chris Christie defense cannot stand up to the pressure.
- The Fake News Defense: This defense has been in full effect since the middle of the campaign. The theory is to deny the credibility of all the facts presented against him in spite of witnesses, photographs and videos in some cases. It’s basically the, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”, defense. Trump has trotted this one out after the release of the TMZ video where Trump admitted on tape to committing sexual assault, famously saying you can, “grab ’em in the pussy.” There are two problems with the Fake News defense. One is that he’s used up its credibility to trotting it out in defense of obvious lies like the crowd size of his inauguration and in defense of his many outlandish tweets. The second is that it depends on his base to never, ever, acknowledge that the Emperor has no clothes. Despite Trump’s claims he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” There comes a point where even his base will turn away because they love their country too. More than Trump ever has or will.
- Throw Yourself On The Mercy Of The Court: While he’s not there yet. Donald Trump may eventually acknowledge the inevitability of a loss and seek to mitigate any punishment by appealing to the public. Of course Trump famously never apologizes and a mea culpa seems totally outside the realm of possibility but one can always hope. The obvious failure of this plan is that he forgets how little mercy he’s shown to others. The list is long of those Trump has abused. Imagine his plea falling on the ears of Muslims, African-Americans, Hispanics, the LGBT community, women and the disabled. All the “beautiful babies” and their families that Trump doesn’t mind dying from starvation or barrel bombs, as long as chemicals aren’t involved. Should Trump ask Americans to forgive him for conspiring with Russia to win an election? How will the country respond?
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