A Field Guide to the Right’s Hysterical and Desperate Response to Trump’s Indictment

This narrative has been picked up by nearly every Republican who matters. (Sorry, Asa Hutchinson!) “The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” wrote Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who promised his state would not aid in Trump’s extradition to New York, not that anyone has asked him to. “The unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” was Mike Pence’s response to the pending arrest of the man who nearly got him killed—pretty funny, given that he basically acknowledges that Trump committed a crime. 

Choking back tears, Lindsey Graham begged Fox’s viewers to “give the president money to fight this bullshit,” adding that Trump’s prosecution would “destroy America.” Tucker Carlson, despite his self-avowed passionate hatred of Donald Trump, took things even further, more or less openly calling for insurrection by asking his viewers to stockpile weapons. “The rule of law appears to be suspended tonight—not just for Trump, but for anyone who would consider voting for him,” Carlson said, while doing the thing he does to let you know that he’s really serious (cocking his head like a little puppy). 

Wokeness-obsessed entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy concurred, telling Carlson, “If they can do it to Trump, they can do it to you.” (He’s correct: If you commit campaign finance violations you may very well be prosecuted for them.) Matt Taibbi took a break from hanging out with his new buddy Ted Cruz to make the case that this was the moment that the U.S. crossed the Rubicon: “If presidents think they will be chased into jail under thin pretexts as ex-presidents, they’ll try even harder to never leave office. This is how autocracies are born.” (Alternatively, this is how career white-collar criminals are deterred from seeking political office in the first place.) The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board parroted a similar point—itself a damning indictment of Taibbi’s transformation into a P.R. apparatchik of some of the slimiest people in American politics: “Once a former President and current candidate is indicted, some local Republican prosecutor will look to make a name for himself by doing the same to a Democrat.” (Not a problem as long as said Democrat committed a crime in their jurisdiction!) Benny Johnson, doing the “How do you do, fellow kids?” routine that thrills octogenarian conservative donors, opted for the unique and inscrutable, tweeting, “Democrats just turned Trump into Tupac.”