Whenever Donald Trump faces an investigation — and at this point, the former president has faced quite a few — he and his political operation stick to a simple playbook. If fact, the entire script consists of three words: Attack the investigators.
The list of targets is a familiar one for those who’ve followed the Republican’s political career. Special Counsel Robert Mueller represented a threat, so Trump did his best to tear him down. Special Counsel Jack Smith is receiving even more aggressive treatment now. The FBI has also become a routine foil. For quite a while, the former president even seemed preoccupied with the shape of Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s neck.
The strategy is unsubtle: Those who scrutinize Trump’s alleged wrongdoing must be torn down, hopefully humiliated, and characterized as lacking in any credibility.
To date, the effects have been ... how do I put this gently ... limited. The more the former president has whined incessantly about the awfulness of his investigators, the more he’s seen diminishing returns. His complaints tend to be dismissed as false or irrelevant, and he’s never successfully discredited anyone who’s scrutinized his alleged misdeeds.
But facing possible indictments, Trump just doesn’t seem to know what else to do. The New York Times reported overnight that the Republican and his team are “preparing to wage a political war” against his latest foe.
With an indictment looming from the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, Mr. Trump’s campaign is laying the groundwork for a broad attack on Mr. Bragg, a Democrat. According to two of Mr. Trump’s political allies, the campaign will aim to portray any charges as part of a coordinated offensive by the Democratic Party against Mr. Trump, who is trying to become only the second former president to win a new term after leaving office.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen some initial steps in this direction. The former president has, for example, insisted more than once that the Manhattan district attorney is “racist.” Trump has yet to point to any actual evidence to support the claim, but the public is apparently supposed to believe that if a Black prosecutor is investigating Trump, we should just assume that the prosecutor is driven by racial animus.
The Republican and his political operation went further late yesterday, issuing a 247-word written statement targeting Bragg, which reinforced just how little Team Trump has to work with.
“The latest Witch-Hunt is being brought on by George Soros-backed Radical Left Democrat prosecutor Alvin Bragg,” it read in part. “Bragg has made political donations to fellow Radical Democrats like Raphael Warnock, and now Bragg is making a political donation of a different kind to Joe Biden. Everyone knows it’s a sham. In fact, the Department of Justice stocked the DA’s office with top people from DC to help ‘Get Trump’ at a local level.”
Some of these details are true but underwhelming — donating to Sen. Raphael Warnock isn’t exactly scandalous — while claims about a Justice Department conspiracy are not to be taken seriously.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Team Trump may be “preparing to wage a political war” against Bragg, but the former president appears to be sorely lacking in ammunition.