We’ve Had First Indictment, Yes. What About Second Indictment?

(Photo by Gage Skidmore (see original), used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0). Additional editing and typography by me.)

John Scalzi

Good news, Pippin! We get second indictment after all! How many specific indictments have yet to be revealed as of me writing this (Update, 2:39pm: 37 specific counts!), but it seems the crimes include obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy and false statements, as well as breaking the Espionage Act. Trump as a matter of law is innocent of any charge until proven guilty, but, come on. We would not for the first time ever be indicting a former president of breaking the fucking Espionage Act, and other various federal crimes, if they did not know they had him dead to rights, possibly by his own admission (such as him saying on tape he didn’t declassify documents he’d pilfered).

I wrote a fairly serious piece the first time(!) Trump was indicted about what it all means, and aside from the specifics of the indictment, what I wrote there largely applies here, so I don’t need to write it again, just go and look what I said the first time. What I will say now is this: Hey, Trump supporters, now is a fine time to get off that train. It’s not going to get any better for Trump from here — he’s almost certainly got more indictments coming from Georgia, for starters — and the GOP 2024 field is beginning to fill up with alternatives to a dim-witted grifter whose entire presidential platform to date is “Pardons for me, revenge on everybody else.” Pence! Christie! Scott! Hell, even DeSantis! I like presidential candidates who aren’t indicted!

So, yes. You should leave him now. I know you won’t — no one who is still on the Trump train at this point in 2023 is there for logical or rational reasons, you’re probably either stuck too far down in the grift to ever admit you’re the chump, or you’re just an awful person who wants to vote for a similarly awful person — but you can’t say I didn’t at least tell you it was an option.

Anyway: Hey! Trump indicted! Again! I expect a few months down the line I will have to say that once more. Because he’s just that kind of guy.

— JS

44 Comments on “We’ve Had First Indictment, Yes. What About Second Indictment?”

  1. Now that he has been indicted, we will learn if Trump is merely a dilettante, or truly a man of his convictions.

    Lock Him Up!!!

  2. The trump case has been assigned to trump’s favorite judge. Oh well. it was nice while it lasted.

  3. Unfortunately down here in Miss, lots of people vote for whomever the R candidate is no matter what.

    The R candidate for dog catcher could have a proven record of euthanizing healthy puppies, while the D candidate consistently re-homes dogs and the morons would still vote for the Repub (my in-laws happen to be among these morons).

  4. Are you serious?! I’m not on the Trump train, although I was ecstatic that he defeated establishment front ‘man Clinton. But please, if you’re sticking all these criminal labels to him then, if you have any awareness of reality, you need to stick at least as many to the current resident of the white house (and almost without question, a great deal more), and likewise, a great deal to the past several residents. If you honestly care about this stuff and aren’t just venting a partisan position, then you will do yourself a great justice to look into the other presidents of the 21st century, because you may find that Trump has done nothing apart from take pages from the playbook of the Obama/Biden administration – well, except the war-mongering, perhaps. And once you realize that, you have to ask yourself, ‘Why is the establishment going so hard against him when he’s no worse than anyone else?’

  5. Oooh, the Mallet’s gonna need warming, John.

    Captain! Scans show Bothsidesism PLUS “deepstate conspiracy coverup Biden WHARRRRGLE” in nearspace.

  6. “Hell, even DeSantis! I like presidential candidates who aren’t indicted!”
    God willing, that will change soon for DeSantis.

  7. So are y’all in a position to inquire of “gym” Jordan, your Congressperson, as to was he anticipating having the Vice President throw the election into the House of Representatives? I keep wondering why nobody on the Jan. 6 investigations has looked into how well the Republican representatives were prepared in advance to overthrow the government. Surely they had some preparation for the coup to succeed. “None dare call it treason” appears to be the watchword today. Please ask your government representatives about this.

  8. Edwin: What it sounds like to me is you are saying, “All Guv’mint bad! We need no laws, no guv’mint, and a Strong Manly Man Man who is Strong and Manly, and who sends the Brown Shirts out to kill anyone who doesn’t Obey Orders from Strong Man! Yay for Dictatorship!”

    Less sarcastically, your bothsideism and nihlism is depressing. Everyone who says, “All politicians are criminals! All government is corrupt!” is hopeless. No, none of these people are saints. But there are different levels of this, and if you really do think that Trump is “no worse than anyone else,” then you are blind and deaf. Trump and his followers don’t want representative government by the people and for the people. They don’t want a President; they want a Leader. A Permanent Leader, who gives Orders.

  9. So true. Time for the Republicans to finally see the light and send Trump off into the sunset. At the same time the democrats need to admit that Biden along with his drug addict, influence peddaling son also need to exit. And let’s stop sending 90 year old dementia afflicted women to the Senate, like Feinstein. Eliminate the gerontocracy. Start term limits. You can have 16 years total combined time in all elected offices and then off the public tit. Then go earn an honest living. There were never supposed to be professional politicians who have a separate pension and health care system different from the average American. So yes, Trump needs to go, finally, along with about 50% of all politicians.

  10. I’m not on the Trump train, although I was ecstatic that he defeated establishment front ‘man Clinton.

    The two parts of this sentence do not seem to be congruent with each other.

  11. “Oooh, the Mallet’s gonna need warming, John.”

    Please don’t. Leave the stupid ones up for laughs.

    @ Steve Johnson:

    “Biden along with his drug addict, influence peddaling son also need to exit”

    Is “influence peddaling” when you’re riding a bike under the influence of drugs?

    In the absence of coherent counter-arguments, Bothsiderism seems to be the order of the day.

  12. @Edwin @SteveJohnson

    You do realize that many of us don’t hold this as a partisan position right? I believe that no politician is above the law and that if they have broken it (as Trump pretty clearly has in multiple cases here) they should face appropriate justice. If Biden or the Clinton’s have broken the law and it can be proven then by all means they should be charged, tried and if found guilty then sentenced. But so far despite decades of investigations in the Clinton and Biden families, the best Republicans have been able to come up with is a blowjob and a Biden whistleblower who has mysteriously disappeared (much like Hunter’s laptop). If you truly believed what you wrote–you’d be applauding the indictment of Trump since it means at least one corrupt politician is finally facing the music but I suspect your both side-ism is really just cover.

  13. I am not on the Coke Zero train, although I was ecstatic that they beat Pepsi Max in a blind taste test. If you have any awareness of reality then you will agree that it is no worse than any other beverage in the 21st century.

  14. You can have 16 years total combined time in all elected offices and then off the public tit

    Yes, nothing like having deeply inexperienced people running the world’s superpower.

    There were never supposed to be professional politicians

    Uh, what do you think Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and James Monroe (just to grab a few names) were?

  15. Two things are true: (i) Trump deserves to be indicted and (ii) so begins an endless cycle of prosecuting the previous administration.

    Back in the day this didn’t happen because — although there certainly was a share of taint on most administrations — when it got bad enough with Nixon he cared enough about the institution to resign. He was many things, but he was an institutionalist. Of course Carl Albert and Sam Ervin knew it was coming, told Nixon that he could have Ford — and Ford alone — as a replacement VP when Agnew had to leave. Ford got to pardon Nixon and the institution was ultimately served.

    The only way this now endless war have been avoided with this shitgibbon was if Trump had resigned post Jan 6. The cooler heads in the Democratic Party would have let him walk away into the sunset. But Trump being Trump, it’s only about him. And he’s fucked it all up.

  16. The US have inflicted draconian and expensive measures on other countries who share their information (under project ‘safeguarding’ ) as a result of Manning and Snowden. With Trump stealing files and storing them at home, it just shows the rot starts at the top! If the ‘Nuclear secrets’ include details of Trident, the UK should prosecute under the Official Secrets Act the next time he tries to go to Scotland. Let’s lock him up in Broadmoor.

  17. Hillary Clinton would not have done any of the stuff Trump is being indicted for.

    She also would have done a much better job than what we got handling Covid, not separating children from their families, not causing a coup, not violating anti-bribery acts, not appointing awful people as supreme court justices, etc. A lot fewer people, like a LOT fewer people, would have died had she been elected president.

    I wonder how our parallel universes are doing. I bet I have a lot less grey hair in the ones where Trump lost. (And probably the ones where Gore won as well.)

  18. This may seem like nitpicking but:

    It’s not the document that is classified. It’s the information contained in the document. I know when he claims he “declassified” something, he thinks that only applies to a specific copy of a document but in the real world it would imply that every copy of that document as well as any other documents that contained similar information were also declassified. I could have them at my house, you could have them at your house, he could hand them out as souvenirs at Mar-a-lago.

  19. “…along with his drug addict, influence peddaling son also need to exit.”

    Well, I’m convinced. I’m never gonna vote for Hunter Biden again.

  20. The problem with not indicting Trump is that ignoring malfeasance doesn’t make it go away. The appeal of the GOP to its fans appears to me to be the idea that rules don’t apply to certain people. They don’t see stop signs and red lights, only green lights. Only getting put in jail is going to stop Trump (maybe).

    If there are indictable offenses for Biden, then he should be indicted. If any President has indictable offenses, then our nation and its government have serious issues. However, if “not agreeing with the GOP” is an indictable offense, then you have problems that not indicting Trump won’t solve.

  21. because you may find that Trump has done nothing apart from take pages from the playbook of the Obama/Biden administration

    Wait, the man who ran on a Drain The Swamp platform? Who was going to run government like a business?

    I guess that, too, went down the memory hole.

  22. Now we know why no one closed Guantanamo: it can be the triple max federal prison for convicted former presidents.

  23. I was seriously wondering if this day would ever come. Too many in the DOJ were afraid to indict Trump on anything because they were afraid of the GOP retaliation.

    The rule of law was becoming the rule of politics instead. This was Trump’s protection and why Trump felt immune.

  24. I’ll add that for Trump, simply getting away with crimes wasn’t sufficient for his ego. Trump had to rub people’s noses in the mess he had created. He had to demonstrate loudly and obviously that he was indeed above the law.

    Trump was The supreme leader, above the law in all ways. That Trump IS the law, He that shall not be questioned.

    Too many republicans do not see the insanity in this. Nor do they see the sad conglomeration of social misfits the GOP got into congress, simply because they will vote for anyone with an “R” in front of their name.

  25. Regarding “bothside-ism” (and apologies, but this is going to run long):

    The trouble is that in a real way, the ideological war we’re in is a distraction from deeper structural problems. The real problem is twofold: First, Congress – and many state legislatures – are under the effective control of the party organizations, which have assumed a level of power they really shouldn’t have over the legislative process. Second, mass media portrayals of both real and fictional politicians as mostly corrupt have become so endemic that (a) too many people confuse the fiction with the reality, and (b) our public education system has pretty much stopped training people in the skill set needed to conduct the business of statecraft effectively.

    Under the Constitution proper, there’s no provision for political parties to exist or to wield any sort of institutional power. This is very much at odds with how Congress works today, whereby the GOP and Democratic leadership doesn’t just manage the deliberative process, but also the administrative process by which the whole institution functions. That’s flat-out unacceptable. The administration of Congress should be required to be conducted in a nonpartisan fashion by a neutral authority. As it stands, the present system is equivalent to letting NFL and NBA coaches referee their teams’ games. Partisan control of Congress renders the Constitution’s checks and balances ineffective, and that’s in large part how we got where we are. (It’s even more disastrously gridlocked here in Oregon, but I’ll spare you the details because space.)

    On to Part Two: can anyone here name me five successful movies or TV series featuring a protagonist who is (1) an elected national political officeholder, (2), a member of the party in power, (3) has no political scandal or unethical behavior in their background, and (4) can truthfully claim significant political success as a legislator or policymaker while in office? And here’s your kicker: in how many of those movies or series is that protagonist outnumbered at least three to one by corrupt, dishonest, and/or just plain incompetent political peers or superiors?

    [cue vast silence]

    That’s what I thought. We’ve been trained by mass media to think of politics as intrinsically shady – and that’s dangerous, because it doesn’t need to be. In particular, the image of “politician” as synonymous with “dirty” makes good people less willing to take up public political service – and it’s permeated our education systems to the extent that we’re no longer training people in the skills required to do statecraft and governance right. The pool of people who can get us out of the present cesspit by practicing diplomacy and compromise is alarmingly thin, and we badly need to enlarge that pool if we’re going to have any hope of restoring government to any degree of stability.

    I don’t have a magic formula to suggest in the service of full-on reform. At state level, well-drafted ballot initiatives might be a good start. As to Congress, a full Constitutional convention would be very hard to engineer; a well-framed class action might do the trick – perhaps arguing that both parties have been artificially inflating their “membership” numbers for decades by claiming on one hand that anyone checking “their” box on a voter registration card is a “member”, while not actually providing most registrants with the means or notice to actually participate in party affairs.

  26. It’ll be interesting to see if the Orange Anointed One still garners the GQP nomination, as indications are our Pippin will get brunch and tiffin’s worth of further indictments (not sure about high tea). Yet, aside from my schadenfreude in the lamentations of Republican political operatives, it’s still within the realm of possibility for Trump to win nomination and the electoral college due to our deliberately flawed media and governing institutions, and that’s deeply frightening, Note that even within these comments people brush off the idea that Trump’s crimes are sui generis for a president.

    Look around at your GQP neighbors, folks. The fever’s not broken yet, and the next GQP president (and by the odds, there will be one) may make Trump look like a paragon of normalcy.

  27. Part of the problem is, even when it comes to a trial and conviction, what happens with sentencing?
    He’s already not had to post bail because he’s basically in secret service custody.
    If his sentence as a non-ex president would be a number of years in prison, he can’t just be put in a normal prison and still have his secret service detail.

    The only thing I can think of is a location could be established, a “prison for one” where his guards are the secret service detail, no internet, no cell phones, jumpsuit only for clothing, no choice in food, limited landline phone calls and visits by family, etc. A “prison experience” just without the actual other inmates.
    Otherwise what would be the point. House arrest would be pointless, he’d go on as usual. These aren’t crimes that can be punished with mere fines, especially with someone with access to funds well beyond most.

  28. First-Time poster, long-time blog reader

    Any chance you can throw up a link to that earlier post from Drumpf’s 1st indictment?

  29. @ Kevin R S
    It was managed for Rudolf Hess in Germany, which required monthly rotating guard details from UK, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It should be considerably easier when only one country is involved.

  30. Kevin,

    “prison for one”

    There’s a lovely facility on Johnston Island that no longer stores aging chemical weapons…

  31. Solitary in a supermax would work. 23 hours in a cell, 1 hour alone in an empty prison yard. Better than he deserves, but the point is that he never gets to participate in society in any way, shape, or form ever again.

  32. @John C. Bunnell
    I would suggest “The West Wing” (which I have seen) and “Madam Secretary” (which I have not but based on what I know about it) as starting points.

    @Hank Roberts
    Maybe something along those lines will come out in the third/fourth indictments?

  33. Under the Constitution proper, there’s no provision for political parties to exist or to wield any sort of institutional power. This is very much at odds with how Congress works today, whereby the GOP and Democratic leadership doesn’t just manage the deliberative process, but also the administrative process by which the whole institution functions. That’s flat-out unacceptable

    Actually, it’s the only thing that keeps government even moderately functional. The founders may have despised the idea of parties (“factions”) but they very quickly realized that the American government they had designed would quickly fall completely into stasis unless there were ways for people with common interests to be in the House/Senate/White House.

    Even James Madison, who was the one who fulminated about factions in the Federalist papers, flip-flopped almost immediately and helped found the Democratic-Republican Party in the early 1790s.

    The idea that not having parties would create a Congress full of disinterested rational policy makers is wrong. The politicians would be roughly the same, but there’d be no consistent way to get a majority to agree on anything. It’d be chaos & stalemate (and no, what we have now is neither).

  34. John B-

    (Warning: Also long, and a little rambling, possibly off-topic so yes, John, feel free to mallet if needed. I made a copy, LOL…)

    I think you make quite a lot of sense in your observations about how media portrayals influence popular perceptions of politics, governing, politicians, government officials, etc. My experience working with both administrative government staff, and elected officials in their official capacity is somewhat out of date, now, but it was very different than the “dark and grifty swamp occasionally illuminated by heroic lone crusaders” of popular entertainment.

    I would, however, take some issue with your contention that party control over the legislative and executive processes is the cause of so much dysfunction.

    Parties, as David observes, evolved of necessity, both as an organizing mechanism for the operations of the electoral process, and as a way for those without wealth and connections to mobilize the power of numbers to participate effectively in both the electoral and governance processes.

    Parties are also subject to co-optation, manipulation, corruption, etc. The demand for a professional, independent civil service was a response to political parties ‘winner takes all’ spoils systems that parceled out every level of public employment to pay off those who’d supported the party in power, right down to janitors and file clerks. It was a needed, and successful, reform.

    One problem parties struggle with is actually a LACK of control at critical stages of the electoral process. As recently as the 1950s, parties retained a much higher level of control over their endorsement process, via selection processes rooted in caucuses and conventions run by the party. That gave the party leverage, and incentive to ‘vet’ the hopefuls vying for endorsement.

    That had its downside. Many voters regard spending time participating in party processes even to the extent of simply attending open caucuses one evening every election cycle as too great an investment for their vote. So we ended up with primary systems that have effectively removed the party’s leverage from the endorsement process. (Seriously, do you think GOP party solons in 2015 – 2016 would have allowed Wee Donnie One-Term anywhere NEAR endorsement, had they been controlling the process through a caucus/convention system?)

    Parties themselves can be spectacularly corrupt (the modern GOP as a whole has taken this to stunning new heights, and I know a few local Democratic organizations I wouldn’t trust to count the fingers on my hand…) Any time the incentive is access to vast amounts of wealth and power, corruption will flourish.

    After the professional civil service reforms of the early 20th century, party corruption might well have waned, had WWII and its associated windfall of military spending not intervened. That replaced the “spoils” that could be generated by the dispensation of civil service jobs, with a much bigger prize – the “spoils” obtainable through government contracts with corporate entities.

    Removing the contracting process from the control of partisan influence would be a much tougher nut to crack than creating a professional civil service, but it could be done. And if it WERE done, it would substantially reduce the incentives to corruption, and the associated incompetence, chaos, and budgetary excess that plague our system today.

    A start would be to reduce the number of contracts, by returning government functions to government control and government employees. That will always generate complaints about inefficiency, waste and featherbedding.

    But an analysis of government-managed Medicaid programs, set against private sector ‘managed care’ and standard private sector medical insurance programs, undertaken in the 1980s in Minnesota, had a very different story to tell. Medicaid, operated by the government, had an administrative cost rate of around 3% and very low rates of both fraud and inefficiency, compared with 8-10% administrative cost rates for regular insurance and 14-18% rates for managed care.

    It is to the advantage of the vaunted private sector, with its freedom to spend money on propaganda, to paint the picture of government management as wasteful and inefficient. But my experience is that nothing is further from the truth. There are few government functions that cannot be more cost-effectively and efficiently managed by competent professional civil service employees, with adequate oversight and review.

    But that, of course, would improve no one’s EBITDA.

    Always, always, follow the money.

  35. Edwin: Indeed. Why is Trump being prosecuted for crimes that’s there’s only overwhelming evidence for, when Biden is getting away with crimes that you’ve imagined he’s committed? It’s totally unfair. I suggest you stomp your widdle feet more. Maybe hold your breath, too, until Mommy makes the bad prosecutors stop prosecutiing?

  36. David & Terry:

    It’s not that I want to get rid of political parties entirely – I agree with both of you that they serve useful and necessary purposes in the political process. But the current situation, wherein the party organizations control not just their own membership but the very procedures by which a legislative body operates, has allowed the parties to abuse those procedures to unacceptable levels.

    On the national level, we saw this in the last several rounds of Supreme Court confirmation hearings, whereby Republicans abused the confirmation process to inappropriately delay any appointment until Obama was out of office. And on the state level, Oregon Republican senators have for several sessions running simply refused to show up for floor sessions, thereby denying the Senate a quorum and causing the entire legislative process to stall.

    The Oregon Republicans are not wrong to observe that their Democrat colleagues aren’t helping by refusing to compromise in any way on a handful of key bills. But the reason there’s a stalemate in the first place is that there is no nonpartisan mechanism in place to thwack both sides upside the head, lock both parties’ leadership in a room, and insist that the work of government continue. The problem is serious enough that voters passed a referendum last year providing that those who abuse the walkout tactic sufficiently can’t run for re-election when their terms expire. The GOP senators who’ve met that measure’s standards are planning to sue to have it declared unconstitutional; I’m not sure we have enough popcorn in the whole state to last through this farce.

    Also, to Terry’s question about caucus/convention processes: with benefit of hindsight, that’s precisely how the religious right snatched the GOP out from under its prior leadership all the way back in the 1980s – by taking over the local party organization precinct by precinct, and creeping upward from there. My parents and I watched it happen – Mother had been serving as a precinct election board member and was later elected to our local school board, my father was closely involved with legislative issues on behalf of his employer, and I popped into precinct meetings while at college during the relevant Presidential election cycle). Oregon’s GOP has gone steadily rightward ever since, big (moderate) money’s best efforts notwithstanding, and I don’t doubt that the same is true across the continent.

    Which is to say, following the money only works if you can throw that money at a target that’s both willing to take it and to stay bought afterward. And the MAGA crowd is now too entrenched to be bought out, and too wedded to its own ends to stay bought by anyone who tries.

  37. Looking ahead, I have to wonder whether judge Aileen “Loose” Cannon will have the decency and integrity to recuse herself from this case of her own accord…or whether (public?) pressure will be brought to have her do so.

  38. “The Oregon Republicans are not wrong to observe that their Democrat colleagues aren’t helping by refusing to compromise in any way on a handful of key bills.”

    It’s worth remembering that compromise is not always the thing to do. Halfway between right and wrong is still damn wrong.

  39. I’ve made my peace with the fact that TFG may never serve one day of jail for his crimes. However, I desperately want “convicted felon” to be indelibly added to his biography. Based on this indictment, I don’t see how he wiggles out of it this time. We’ll see the path forward starting on Tuesday.

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