Updated: Aug 17
Confession is said to be good for the soul. Well, my black soul is in permanent need of attention, so here goes … confession time. I badly misjudged Donald Trump.
How, you might well ask? What I had thought was that the Great Escaper was deliberately provoking Judge Tanya Chutkan into issuing him with a gag order, which he would of course defy. Judge Chutkan would then bang him up for contempt of court until his trial, giving him and his z-grade lawyers an excuse to cry (bleat?) that his First Amendment rights to Free Speech were being denied right when he most needed them, in the middle of an election campaign. I feared it might even be game, set and match to Trump.
I’m happy to admit that in plotting this chess game in my head, I hopelessly over-estimated Trump and equally under-estimated Judge Chutkan. How Trump, a notorious social media junky, must have hated the headlines on YouTube: Judge outsmarts Trump. Not only is the judge a woman. She’s black.
She has outsmarted him. Having got him to acknowledge in open court that he couldn’t threaten judges, witnesses, prosecutors and jurors, Trump (of course) did exactly that, tweeting IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!!! Judge Chutkan had previously spelled out to Trump exactly what his punishment would be if he crossed the line. Not a gag order, not an orange jump suit , not an electronic ankle bracelet, not even house arrest. Instead the judge threatened to pull the trial date forward. Given that Trump’s standard tactic is delay, delay, delay then she could not have come up with a crueller or more unusual punishment.
Prosecutor Jack Smith has already said: we’re ready. In fact he has nominated 2 January as his preferred date to start Trump’s trial. If Judge Chutkan carries out her threat and moves the trial date forward, Smith's bring-it-on attitude is bound to be met by a defence claim that they aren’t ready, to which Judge Chutkan can fairly reply: too bad for you. Your client was warned that this would happen. Next time he might make sure his brain is engaged before setting his tweet in motion.
Smart or what?