Trump Gets a Mug Shot
If you happened to search the records for inmates housed in the Fulton County, Georgia, jail this evening, you would have found this. Briefly.
No designation as “President Trump,” the way his new lawyer, Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Steve Sadow, referred to him in a motion today. Instead, he has a booking number like any other common criminal. He did get away with self-reporting his weight, which he pegged at 215. Leave your comments about that:
Over his first three indictments, Trump’s well-orchestrated public appearances looked more like a royal progress than bookings in criminal cases, complete with deferential Secret Service agents opening doors and calling him sir. But not any longer. A mug shot. Fingerprints. An appearance in a county jail that is under federal investigation over its despicable conditions.
Here’s the first real indication, not just for us, but for Trump, too, that he is a mere mortal. He’s no longer in control. His status is now captured forever in a mug shot—something Jack Smith deferred to Trump on and didn’t make him submit to.
And while Trump undoubtedly practiced this pose for days in advance of being booked, it’s the last act of a man who no longer controls what is about to happen to him. He can make requests, but he will not control the schedule. He will have to abide by the conditions that four judges have now set for him to remain free on bond pending trial.
What remains to be seen is whether all of this will have enough impact on Republican voters to prevent Trump from returning to office in 2024. Even as late as January 6, a showing of moral courage from Republican leaders, telling their party’s members that the elections had been conducted fairly and Trump had lost, could have made inroads. Instead, they joined Trump in doing a grotesque disservice to the country by remaining silent in some cases or picking up his mantle in others, and continuing to perpetuate the Big Lie. The question now is whether the evidence in the case against him in Georgia—much of it which will come out of the mouths of Republican witnesses like the secretary of state whom Trump tried to threaten into throwing the election for him—will prove to be persuasive with people who have been lied to, and who accepted the lie, for so long.
When we get to arraignments or other early proceedings in Georgia, so long as the case remains in the state system, there will be cameras in the courtroom to capture and broadcast the proceedings. Trump’s trial, and any of his co-defendants’ trials, will be on full display. The public will be able to watch and assess the proceedings and witnesses for themselves.
Is Willis ready to go to trial? It sure looks that way. All the time people were complaining about her delay, following the "imminent" comment, Willis was apparently preparing for trial while she was readying her indictment.
We know this because on Thursday, one of Trump’s co-defendants, Kenneth Chesebro, thought he was calling a bluff by Willis when he demanded a speedy trial. The rules in Georgia entitle a defendant who makes this kind of demand to a speedy trial to receive one during the next term of court following the one that is currently in session. For Chesebro that means a trial no later than November 3, 2023. A failure to commence Chesebro’s trial by that date would mean he could have the charges against him dismissed, so it’s not surprising that Judge Scott McAfee set the date for October 23, 2023, to give a few extra days as a safe harbor. It was Willis’s suggestion to move the date up, though. She seemed unsurprised by the request and appears ready to proceed.
Lots of legal issue are swirling around the proceedings, including the outraged protests by co-defendants Mark Meadows and Jeff Clark that they could not be arrested by a state prosecutor—both of which were denied. Meadows reported today, and Clark says he is in Georgia and will turn himself in tomorrow. Still to be decided are their notices of removal, an effort to transfer the proceedings to federal court. Meadows will get a hearing on his this coming Monday. Clark’s has been scheduled for September 18. Two of the Georgia electors have also tried their hand at removal, claiming, in essence, that they were only following Trump’s orders.
We’ll know more about the prospects for removal after we can gauge Federal Judge Steve Jones’s position in the Monday hearing. It’s possible he could see some of the cases as being more meritorious than others. Despite the low bar when a federal official seeks removal, it’s not NO bar. And that’s essentially what the defendants will be forced to argue, suggesting that the court can’t make any effort to determine the truth of their claim that they were performing work in their capacity as public officials (or acting at the direction of people who were) in the course of deciding whether they can remove. Fani Willis has subpoenaed Brad Raffensperger as a witness Monday. Mark Meadows set up Trump’s “perfect call” with him, and it seems unlikely that a president’s chief of staff has any official business trying to position a president to ask a state official to steal an election for him.
I had hoped to address those issues in more detail tonight, as well as the fascinating conflicts-of-interest situation that has emerged in the Mar-a-Lago case, but they’ll have to wait for the weekend. After five straight hours of television coverage tonight, I have a feeling the only thing I’m fit for is an early (for me) bedtime. Lots more coming!
We’re in this together,