Trump's trial in New York could shatter his mirror politics

Mirror politics is accusing your opponents of doing the very thing you yourself have done. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump insists President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election from him. That's not true. At the same time, it sure appears as though Trump's election to the presidency in 2016 was stolen from Hillary Clinton.

None of the over 60 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential contest found evidence the election was stolen. As Fox News acknowledged two months after the election, “Judges have denied or dismissed dozens of cases backed by Trump and his allies, who have pushed unsupported charges of widespread fraud in battleground states.” But the facts don't seem to matter to the 70% of Republicans who do believe Trump's false claims of election fraud.

In 2016, Clinton outpolled by Trump by almost 3 million votes, but lost in the Electoral College. Changing only 80,000 votes in three states would have led to a Clinton victory. Given that razor's edge margin, it's hard not to point to the illegality and abuse that led to Trump's triumph.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee had “found irrefutable evidence of Russian meddling” in the 2016 election. The report of former FBI director and special counsel Robert Mueller “identified multiple contacts … between Trump Campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government.” In her book “Cyberwar,” Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, concludes it's “highly probable” Russia affected the outcome of the 2016 race.

On top of that Russian meddling, polling guru Nate Silver believes the failure of FBI Director James Comey to follow Justice Department policies cost Clinton the presidency. In July 2016, in the midst of the presidential campaign, Comey publicly accused Hillary Clinton of being careless in handling classified documents even though her behavior did not warrant an indictment. In so doing, he broke from department practice which bars public comment once a decision not to prosecute is made. A report from the Justice Department's inspector general made during the Trump administration found that “It was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so.” And then, over objections from DOJ officials, Comey announced the FBI had reopened the Clinton investigation in late October, 11 days before the election.

At almost the same time, Trump was scrambling to make certain his payoff of $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels did not come to light. Daniels alleged she'd had sex with Trump just four months after his wife Melania had given birth. In 2018, Trump admitted to reimbursing his former lawyer Michael Cohen for the hush money paid to Daniels before the election while denying any sexual relationship with her.

Now is the moment of truth for Cohen's former boss, the once and future presidential candidate. New York prosecutors argue that Trump filed untruthful business records to disguise he was the source of the hush money. The stakes could not be much larger. “The case is not — the core of it's not — money for sex,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. As he puts it, Trump faces trial for “conspiring to corrupt” the 2016 presidential election.

According to a Politico/Ipsos poll last month, almost a third of Americans say a conviction of Trump in the New York case would make them less likely to support him in the November 2024 election. If this is true in 2024, how many votes would Stormy Daniels' accusation of a sexual dalliance have cost Trump in the 2016 election? Almost certainly enough to have swung the election to Clinton.

The Trump legal team is so worried about the possibility of a guilty verdict by a New York jury that it has tried every conceivable legal machination to delay the trial. Nevertheless, it appears ready to begin.

It's a funny thing. Trump thunders that the 2020 election was stolen from him, which is a lie. Democrats seldom mention that the 2016 election was stolen from Hillary Clinton, which certainly appears to be the truth.

Maybe the testimony and verdict in The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump will shatter the former president's mirror politics. It's Trump, not Biden, who won an election that by all rights, he shouldn't have.

© 2024, Creators

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