Former US president Donald Trump insists he is innocent. He denies falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to pornographer Stormy Daniels. He says he never raped E. Jean Carroll in a dressing room in 1995—or was it 1996? (She can’t remember which year it allegedly happened.) He also denies the New York Attorney General’s charges that he and the Trump Organization engaged in “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct” including illegally coordinating with his presidential campaign, engaging in self-dealing transactions, and failing to keep proper records. Finally, Trump insists that he did not “interfere” in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election count, but merely tried to convince officials to count the votes properly, or at least proffer the “correct” result.
Trump’s many fervent supporters say that the only reason their idol is being persecuted, as opposed to prosecuted, is that he’s Donald Trump and running for president in 2024. According to them, the American Deep State hates Trump, stole the 2020 election, and is engaging in “lawfare” to prevent another Trump presidency. They say anyone who is not named Donald Trump would never be hit with such a flimsy barrage of lawsuits and prosecutions.
Trump’s equally large legion of detractors begs to differ. They say anyone else who engaged in the kind of conduct that is routine for Trump would have been sued into penury and sentenced to prison long ago. Only Trump’s money and connections, they say, have kept him free and rich despite his long record of civil and criminal infractions.
So, who is right? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. If Trump had never run for president in 2016 but instead was still a real-estate shyster and talk-show barker, it is exceedingly unlikely that he would be enduring anything like the legal onslaught that he now faces. Thus, Trump’s defenders are partly right: Trump is being prosecuted not for what he did—countless rich and powerful men including pre-2016 Donald Trump routinely do what Trump is alleged to have done and more and never face accountability—but because the Deep State doesn’t want him to return to the White House.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean Trump is innocent. Instead, it reflects the extreme decadence of the American imperial oligarchy during the final days of its decline and fall. Trump very likely did engage in a persistent pattern of illegal conduct, as do many other American oligarchs, who are seldom if ever held accountable. But because he turned against the majority of the oligarchy and became a destabilizing factor, a joker in the house of cards who could help bring the whole decrepit structure crashing down, the Deep State enforcers and their controlled media determined to ensure his unceremonious ejection from the White House, never to return. The ongoing lawfare is part of their strategy to ensure that Trump never returns to power.
Will it work? Perhaps. But the never-Trumpers are playing with fire. For just as Trump broke out of containment in 2016, thanks in large part to Israel’s massive election interference in his favor, there is a non-negligible chance that something similar could happen again in 2024—only this time it could play out amidst the rubble of economic devastation and imperial collapse.
The anti-Trump forces who dominate the US establishment made several unforced errors in 2016. Their biggest mistake, indeed their fatal one, was overestimating the legacy media’s ability to brainwash American voters. The media oligarchs thought they could have their cake and eat it too: pummel then-candidate Trump with nonstop unflattering coverage in order to maximize advertising revenue, and then watch him melt into the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West. What the media bosses didn’t fully realize was that an ever-growing segment of American voters no longer trusts the legacy media.* For them, the never-ending blitz of anti-Trump coverage amounted to an endorsement: “The Establishment obviously hates this guy, so he must be trying to overturn it on behalf of the little guy, just like he says.” Every time Trump ridiculed the “fake news media” they cheered.
So instead of driving stakes through Trump’s heart, the legacy media inadvertently ensured his election in 2016 by providing him with the equivalent of billions of dollars’ worth of free publicity. As of late April 2023, it seems they haven’t learned their lesson. The lawfare campaign against Trump may or may not succeed in bankrupting or imprisoning him, but the one thing that it is unquestionably doing is keeping him in the headlines and firing up his base, which dominates the Republican party, by making him look like a martyr.
If Trump’s base gets fired up enough, and attracts enough support from undecideds and/or police and military officers, Trump could triumph in 2024 in a way that would make his 2016 election win pale by comparison. A complete overthrow of America’s oligarch-run fake democracy, and installation of Trump as dictator, is a small but real possibility.
Such a scenario almost certainly won’t unfold if the economy is thriving or even muddling through; good economies favor the incumbent party, in this case the Democrats. But as of late April 2023, the US dollar has begun to decline as a recession looms. If the long-awaited international run on the dollar finally materializes, and the American and de facto global currency loses much or even most of its value, the USA could experience its worst-ever economic collapse—something that would make 1929 look like a walk in the park. And economic disasters favor would-be dictators. Just ask the Germans. It’s not for nothing that Trump is said to keep a copy of Hitler’s speeches in his bedside cabinet.
So, are the media oligarchs and the CIA Mockingbird operatives who collaborate with them really so stupid as to inadvertently propel Trump into the White House in 2016, not learn their lesson, and risk enshrining him as Generalissimo Trump in 2024? What in the world are they thinking?
The innocent (and obvious) explanation is yes, they really are that stupid. Just as they overestimated the power of legacy media in 2016, they may be overestimating the power of newly-Orwellianized social media now. Since 2016, and especially since the COVID emergency, social media has been subjected to a hostile takeover by the Deep State, and internet freedom is now a thing of the past. As the Twitter Files show, the Deep State and its alphabet soup of intelligence agencies and allied NGOs now controls most internet media—though Twitter itself has become something of a wild card thanks to Elon Musk. So, the Mockingbird media mavens may think they have re-established their death grip on the American mind in general and voting behavior in particular. By spinning Trump’s legal troubles in such a way as to discredit him or at least make people sick of hearing about him, they presumably believe they will succeed in erecting a lawfare barrier to his return to power.
But as I wrote in last month’s Crescent, the US empire is losing its grip on the world, which could lead to the collapse of the imperial petrodollar and the American economy it sustains. The pain and chaos of collapse could ensure that the best-laid plans of mice, men, and media mavens go badly awry. The specter of a Trump dictatorship, which so terrified the American fake left back when it was a risible delusion, could become a genuinely terrifying possibility—though whether that would really be any worse than the current fake democracy run by criminal oligarchs might make an interesting topic of debate.
*According to Gallup, “Just 7% of Americans have ‘a great deal’ of trust and confidence in the media and 27% have ‘a fair amount.’ Meanwhile 28% of US adults say they do not have very much confidence and 38% have none at all.”