Last week brought more bad news for the Donald Trump campaign: several of his associates in the Georgia fiasco of 2020-21 -- including, ominously, Sidney "Kraken" Powell -- pleaded guilty to lesser charges in that state's holy war against the former president. Georgia is the place, you may recall, where even after the disputed/fortified/stolen presidential election was effectively over, the GOP still had a chance to hang onto the Senate but managed to blow both seats to Democrats (Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock) who otherwise would never have had a chance. The other guilty pleas were made by attorney Kenneth Chesebro and a bail bondsman, Scott Hall.
As part of the two lawyers' plea deals, they've both agreed to testify against the many other defendants in the case including, potentially, Rudy Giuliani and even Trump himself. Naturally, this was immediately spun by members of the Trump campaign as a win:
Former President Donald Trump will benefit from the plea deal Sidney Powell accepted from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, according to Georgia lawyer Steve Sadow, who said Powell’s requirement to truthfully testify in upcoming trials related to the 2020 election in Georgia will help Trump. Sadow said in a statement to The Messenger that Powell’s testimony, which is required as part of her plea deal, “will be favorable” to his defense strategy, “assuming truthful testimony in the Fulton County case.”
Some commentators have tried to put a similarly optimistic face on things, including the estimable John Hinderaker at Power Line: "News organizations are headlining Sidney Powell’s guilty plea in the Georgia case in which she is a co-defendant with Donald Trump as if it were significant news. It isn’t, except, of course, to Ms. Powell." Others have pointed out that Powell and Chesebro have basically pleaded guilty to picking their feet in Poughkeepsie, and have skated on the really big RICO charges.
Appearing Thursday in a downtown Atlanta courtroom, [Powell] was sentenced to six years of probation for six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. That is a significantly less-severe outcome than she would have faced if found guilty of the seven felonies for which she was originally indicted, which included a violation of the state racketeering law. Her criminal trial was set to begin next week.
Ms. Powell gave prosecutors a recorded statement on Wednesday as part of her plea deal. “If she’s already given a statement, she’s obviously given the prosecution some useful information,” said Melissa D. Redmon, an assistant law professor at the University of Georgia and a former Fulton County prosecutor.
Ms. Redmon said that it would be particularly helpful to the state’s case if Ms. Powell provided evidence that Mr. Trump and other high-profile defendants carried out a plan to assemble bogus electors — a major piece of the case — while knowing that they actually had no proof of widespread voter fraud.
Cue now the chorus of voices shouting about the Steal, despite the fact that a) at the time no courts took any of the cases and b) now that the matter is being adjudicated, the Trump team is losing and rolling over on its own. Ms. Powell, one of the former president's staunchest defenders whose personal credibility considerably enhanced public trust in the rightness of Trump's case, did what was best for herself in taking the plea deal; Powell is not stupid, and wisely chose not to sacrifice herself for someone who would toss her aside without a second thought — and who in fact has already distanced himself from her.
In any case, I have discussed the arguments regarding the Steal in two pieces here at the Pipeline; The System IS the Steal, and The Sting, and addressed many of the issues as they were happening in my columns for the Epoch Times, which were favorable to Trump.
Trump has attempted to bolster his support by identifying himself with the fate of the nation, directing most of his animus at his most potent challenger, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, largely for his effrontery in running against Trump for the nomination. Trump is demanding "loyalty" in a field in which loyalty is situational at best, and usually goes by the name of back-scratching. But the Republic is in too desperate a shape for considerations of "loyalty" when "victory" is the only thing that matters. Unbeholden to anyone else for his surprise victory in 2016, no one else is beholden to him now that he has squandered it in defeat. The only loyalty any candidate owes is to the country he seeks to lead, and Donald Trump is not the nation.
As the Romans knew, politics is a cruel, masculine business. Once the election was called for Joe Biden, however unfairly or even illegally, the Trump campaign should have congratulated the "winner," withdrawn, and lived to fight another day; in other words, it should have emulated Richard Nixon, who lost the closely contested election of 1960 to John F. Kennedy. However difficult, that would have been the honorable and patriotic thing to do. Recall that from the start of his first presidential campaign Trump was already questioning the reliability of the electoral system and even then hinting he would contest any count that he lost. Here's a reminder:
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said the election is "absolutely rigged" by the "dishonest media" and "at many polling places". His comments appear to contradict his running mate Mike Pence, who told NBC Mr Trump would "absolutely" accept the election result, despite media "bias". Mr Trump's adviser Rudy Giuliani has also accused Democrats of "cheating".
Polls suggest Mr Trump is losing ground in some key battleground states against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Mr Trump has questioned the legitimacy of the election process in a series of tweets, the latest of which said on Monday: "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. "Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!"
An earlier tweet said: "The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places - SAD." The White House candidate also tweeted: "Election is being rigged by the media, in a coordinated effort with the Clinton campaign, by putting stories that never happened into news!"
And that was the election he won.
Tale of the tape.
What Trump could have done -- and what he and his disastrously managed presidential re-election campaign should have done -- was fight fraud before the election. They knew which six states would be determinative. As I wrote in the New York Post in my Oct. 2020 pre-election column: "The good news for Trump is that if he can win Nevada and hold on to Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia, he can afford to lose Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota and still cross the finish line with at least 275 electoral votes. In the weird year of 2020, that’s as good as a landslide."
He didn't, of course, losing several of them as narrowly as he had won them in '16, and that was that. I was watching the returns come in on Election Night into the wee hours, and went to sleep with him a million votes ahead in Pennsylvania, only to awake a few hours later with him well behind there. It practically screamed fraud, and it was -- fraud legalized in the wake of the Covid hoax, the widespread adoption of ballot harvesting, drop boxes, an expanded voting period to weeks instead of just one day, and serious abuse of absentee ballots -- and all eminently preventable had the RNC under the useless Ronna Romney McDaniel been on the ball.
Now the Democrats are building a case against Trump and his petulant, inadvisable rear-guard resistance. As anyone who's followed gangland prosecutions knows, you flip the smaller fish early with very attractive plea deals, such as were given to Powell and Chesebro, with an eye on the big prize. And when that happens, the former president will have no one to blame but himself.