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After targeting judges, Trump condemns criticisms of docs case judge

After targeting judges for years, Donald Trump is outraged that special counsel Jack Smith isn't exactly getting along with Judge Aileen Cannon.


Over the course of the last couple of years, Donald Trump has shared a few unkind words about special counsel Jack Smith. The former president has, for example, referred to the prosecutor as a “thug” in a “mental state of derangement” who “may very well turn out to be a criminal.”

Soon after, the Republican condemned the special counsel as a “mad dog psycho.” He’s also accused Smith of overseeing “a Gestapo type operation,” as well as being an “animal” and a “lunatic.” At one point, Trump suggested the special counsel’s investigation was “treasonous.”

But last week, the presumptive GOP nominee broke new ground, suggesting Smith “should be sanctioned“ for “attacking a highly respected Judge, Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over his FAKE Documents Hoax case in Florida.”

None of this reflected reality in any way. Cannon and the special counsel have, in fact, clashed over procedural matters, but (a) Smith never “attacked” the jurist; (b) no one seriously believes the controversial, Trump-appointed judge, whose competence and impartiality have repeatedly come into question, is “highly respected”; (c) the classified documents case is neither “fake” nor a “hoax”; and (d) the idea that the prosecutor “should be sanctioned” for pressing Cannon to follow the law is hopelessly insane.

But the former president nevertheless returned to the subject yesterday, publishing a follow-up item to his social media platform. As Axios reported:

Former President Trump said President Biden and others were “working overtime to try to illegally intimidate and harass” Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing Trump’s classified documents criminal case.

This actually understated matters a bit. In his online missive, the former president argued that President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Smith are trying to “illegally intimidate and harass” Cannon.

In other words, the presumptive GOP nominee would have the public believe that the special counsel and the nation’s chief law enforcement officials are engaged in criminal misconduct against a federal district court judge.

Trump went on to say that Biden, Garland, and Smith are calling Cannon “terrible names, wrongfully threatening her with Impeachment, and disrespecting her.”

Again, for those with even a passing interest in reality, the Republican’s claims are plainly delusional. No one involved in the prosecution of this case has engaged in name-calling toward the presiding judge. They’ve also not threatened to impeach her.

But this isn’t a “Trump tells hysterical lies” post. Rather, there are two other areas of concern here.

The first is the truly breathtaking levels of hypocrisy on display. Trump, more so than any modern American political leader, has gone after sitting judges with a vengeance — “disrespecting” them, calling them “terrible names,” and at times even going after members of their families.

If anyone has any doubts about this, they should feel free to ask U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, and U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, each of whom has been on the receiving end of Trump delegitimizing tantrums.

If the former president believes such conduct constitutes “illegal harassment,” he might as well turn himself into the authorities now.

But the other angle of interest was something else the Republican wrote in his online rant:

"These Persecutors are using Third World tactics in a corrupt ploy to 'play the ref.' However, no matter how hard he tries, Deranged Jack Smith will never be Coach Bobby Knight.... Coach Knight would always 'play the refs,' but not to change the last call, to change the next one...."

He made a similar comment last week, while calling for sanctions, asserting without cause that Smith is “obviously trying to ‘play the ref.’”

We’ve probably all heard the “every accusation a confession” expression, but this is ridiculous. Trump has a variety of reasons to launch campaigns against the judges overseeing his cases, but the more the former president talks about others working the refs, the more he makes clear that he goes after judges and their families as part of a larger effort to work the refs.