Will Merrick Garland Solve the Republicans’ Problem for Them?
Hoping that Trump is indicted while doing everything possible to prevent Trump from being indicted. That's their strategy.
No TNB tonight: We’re watching the hearing at 8:00 p.m. and you should, too.
1. “Boosting,” Again
Jonathan Swan made me lose my mind a little bit yesterday:
Jake Tapper @jaketapperCNN projects Trump-backed pusher of election lies Maryland state Delegate Dan Cox will win the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary, defeating former Maryland commerce secretary Kelly Schulz, endorsed by GOP Gov. Larry Hogan.
I think this summary is somewhat misleading. Let me explain.
If you read Swan’s summary and haven’t actually watched the ads, you might reasonably conclude that Democrats were running pro-Cox ads, in which they made an affirmative argument for Cox—or portrayed him as a good candidate—and that now Democrats have to “pivot” in their messaging to describe Cox as extreme.
This is not the case!
Again, look at the ad the DGA ran that was “supporting” Cox:
Listen to the foreboding music. Look at the washed-out color palette. Read the script:
Meet Dan Cox, Donald Trump's handpicked candidate for Maryland governor. Cox worked with Trump trying to prove the last election was a fraud. 100% pro life, he's fighting to end abortion in Maryland and Cox will protect the Second Amendment at all costs, refusing to support any federal restrictions on guns. Even pushing to put armed guards in every school. Dan Cox: Too close to Trump; too conservative for Maryland.
This is a negative ad! It is the exact same message Dems will use against Cox in the general election. There will be no “pivot.” They were not “supporting” Cox with ads during the primary and they certainly didn’t “fund” his campaign.
If I worked for the DGA, I would make the following argument about the Cox ad:
We were not “supporting” Dan Cox. We were defining him early and making him own all of the extreme positions that he and the Republican establishment are promoting. We will continue to hammer him on these issues throughout the general election because Dan Cox is not a good fit for Marylanders.
Would that be too cute? Sure. The DGA knew that defining Cox as a crazy extremist who thinks the 2020 election was stolen and wants armed guards in schools would be attractive to a certain portion of Republican primary voters.
But it isn’t like the DGA ad was saying, “Hey, Dan Cox isn’t so extreme. He just cares about Freedom. Give this great patriot a chance!”
They were running a hard-neg general election ad against a guy who was already the favorite to win his party’s nomination. They’ll keep saying all the same stuff that was in that ad.
If that DGA ad turned out to be helpful to Cox, then this fact says more about the Republican electorate than it does about the DGA.
Does that mean that the DGA should have run the ad? No. If I was king of the DGA, I would not have run it. But it’s a defensible choice and the reality of what they did is much different from the shorthand portrayals.
2. Charging Document
After tonight’s hearing, I expect that there will be two overriding questions for the coming weeks:
(1) Will the Department of Justice indict Donald Trump?
(2) Will Donald Trump run for president?
These questions are not unrelated. If Trump announces he is running, that will make an indictment less likely.
Sure, the law is the law, and justice is blind, and yadda yadda yadda. But the fact is that deciding to prosecute a former president who is again running for president and who is the odds-on favorite to win his party’s nomination is a very large Rubicon to cross. It commingles the criminal justice system with the electoral system at the highest level. It turns America as a whole into something resembling a failed state—like a supersized Louisiana.
This would not be the criminal justice system’s fault. The Republican party created this mess. But it would be the criminal justice system’s decision.
And deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.
Let’s think through the sequencing here. If the Justice Department is going to move,