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Why is Trump lumping himself in with notorious criminals?

It’s one thing when Donald Trump's critics equate his alleged misconduct with infamous criminals; it’s something else when he does this to himself.


In 2018, as Donald Trump’s Russia scandal continued to make headlines, the then-president started facing unexpected legal troubles. Indeed, over the course of a single week, the Republican’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, convicted of multiple felonies, and Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, directly implicated the then-president while pleading guilty to a variety of criminal charges.

It was against this backdrop that Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Trump defender, suggested the allegations raised by Cohen were less important because they were unrelated to the dominant Trump scandals of the day. “It’s the Al Capone approach,” Dershowitz argued. “If we can’t get him on the grounds that we’d really want him on, let’s go after him on taxes, let’s go after him on business.”

This was an odd argument for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the suggestion that the public should see Trump as some kind of equivalent to an organized-crime giant — but in a good way.

Nearly three years later, the former president is doing something awfully similar. This, for example, was the written statement Trump issued late yesterday:

“Never before has this happened to another President, and it is an absolute violation of my civil rights.... I’ve been investigated by the Democrats more than Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Al Capone, combined.”

In context, the Republican was whining about a series of legal setbacks this week, including developments in the civil investigation launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office.

It’s apparently led the scandal-plagued former president to believe he’s some kind of victim because a variety of law enforcement offices are examining his alleged wrongdoing.

But it’s Trump’s comparison that stands out: The Republican apparently thought it’d be a good idea to issue a written statement in which he lumped himself in with a murderer, a notorious bank robber, and one of the most powerful organized crime figures in American history.

It’s one thing when the former president’s critics equate his alleged misconduct with infamous criminals; it’s something else when Trump does this to himself.