Donald Trump receives a superseding indictment.
Happy Friday everyone. Cue my intro music. I don’t know if you heard, but some dude received a superseding indictment last night. Let’s get down to business.
Off the bat, I have to talk about how wrong I was in the Jackal from last week. I wrote a shorter one because I was honestly convinced that an indictment in the January 6th case would be happening either that Friday, or shortly thereafter. We are now a week out from that Jackal and although an indictment has come, it wasn’t the January 6th one that was promised.
So, this will be a super-sized Jackal. We will touch on:
Trump’s superseding indictment, and the looming January 6th indictment.
Ron DeSantis’s collapse.
Should-Reads (which will contain my thoughts on another big story this week, Hunter Biden’s stalled plea deal).
It doesn’t feel like Trump got indicted again. Did he?
On Thursday evening, Jack Smith’s office filed another indictment of Donald Trump, called a “superseding indictment,” which is relatively common in Federal prosecutions (or at least it’s not uncommon). A superseding indictment either changes the original indictment, adds to it, or replaces it, and we got some major additions last night.
You can read the full indictment yourself here. If you want the quick summary:
It names a new defendant, Carlos de Oliveira, an employee of Trump’s at Mar-A-Lago.
It is mostly related to Trump’s attempts to obstruct the investigation.
It provides further evidence of a conspiracy.
The last point is key. I mean, here is exactly that the Department of Justice says in their filing:
The purpose of the conspiracy was for Trump to keep classified documents he had taken with him from the White House and to hide and conceal them from a federal grand jury.
In other words, it wasn’t just Trump acting alone; he asked others to help him in his attempts to deceive the government. The indictment also shows that none of these guys were helpless rubes either. Both Walt Nauta (indicted initially) and De Oliveira (indicted here) tried to conceal evidence of Trump’s retention of documents. They even tried to delete video evidence of them hiding boxes from investigators:
All of this happens after Trump received a subpoena from the Justice Department for the classified materials. As David Kurtz puts it, this indictment is brutal for Trump.
It is also inexplicable. I really do not have words to express how dumbfounded I am by Trump’s behavior. This is the best I can do:
I truly don’t understand it. I don’t know why he has to keep these documents. I don’t know why he took them in the first place. I don’t know why he can’t just comply with a subpoena to give back things that he clearly knows aren’t his, and I don’t know why he thought it was a better idea to get himself indicted for something like this rather than cooperate.
The only real explanation I have is that Trump has a mental illness and that entire subject is outside of my wheelhouse. I am exasperated just thinking about it. If I got a message from the F.B.I. indicating that I had something of value to them that I had taken illegally, I would (1) hire a lawyer and then (2) immediately find out how I could get it back to them BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO PRISON. None of this entered Trump’s head. He willfully violated the law and apparently didn’t care about the consequences.
Sorry if you were hoping for a super-technical Jackal about the ins and outs of the indictment, but I decided to make you sit through my mild mental breakdown instead. That said, this really cannot be understated: Trump is screwed. One of his most recent defenses was actually flung out the window with this indictment.
Previously Smith told a story about Trump waiving around a classified document at his club in Bedminster and showing it to people in a room. CNN also got a recording of that incident and released it. But Trump claimed that he did not really have classified documents in his hand and was showing them to people; he was just pretending like he was, or was engaging in bravado.
In this filing, Smith says he has the document in question and that it was classified. Whoopsie.
It is just more evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing and that he has no outs. If he were anyone else, his lawyers would have told him to plead guilty to this and deal with the punishment. The case against him is that overwhelming.
What happened to the January 6th indictment?
I think that indictment is still on, and that it could happen today. I know I literally said that last week, but this time I could be right. Trump’s attorneys apparently met with Smith’s team yesterday, and were informed that an indictment was imminent. Based on the normal tea-reading that you can do in a Federal case, it probably follows that Trump is indicted very, very soon. While the grand jury met yesterday and didn’t return an indictment, they will likely meet again soon and Smith will ask them for a vote. In fact, it is possible he made his final argument in front of them yesterday.
I also can’t stress this enough: Out of all the cases that pose an immediate danger to Trump, January 6th is it. This has now become a Jackal refrain at this point, but to recap: The case in New York will probably not result in jail time. The classified documents case will likely not conclude before the 2024 election (I know there is a May 2024 court date, but there are a lot of reasons that could be delayed). But a January 6th case will be less complicated to prosecute than a whole case about classified documents. This is a realistic scenario:
In the Fall of 2024, the GOP will be running Donald Trump on their ticket, while he is sitting in prison.
Ron DeSantis is…sort of running for President?
A lot of GOP primary news gets swallowed by Trumpzilla, but the DeSantis Campaign had a bit of a hiccup recently. To sum up: One of his staffers retweeted a video that supported DeSantis for all the normal reasons - he doesn’t like gay people, he hates COVID restrictions, etc. - but it included a neat little tidbit at the end:
That is the Black Sun, a Nazi symbol and one loved by White Supremacists (also admired by Satanists, but I repeat myself). Unsurprisingly, the DeSantis Campaign fired the staffer in question - Nate Hochman - and disassociated itself from the ad.
I cannot really understate this: The DeSantis Campaign is finished. It is 100% over. He is not going to win the primary and it’s not just because he had Nazi-curious people on his staff. The initial story was that Hochman had merely retweeted the ad, which was quickly deleted. However, it turns out that Hocman himself made it and promoted it on Twitter. Couple that with the fact that he previously made glowing statements about Nick Fuentes - the “America First,” white supremacist dwarf - and you have to wonder how this guy ended up on DeSantis’s campaign.
It has been a repeated topic here at the Jackal, but DeSantis and his supporters are simply “too online.” Here is me in December of last year:
A main criticism of the Left has been that they were too “extremely online,” which led them to support policies that were unpopular with the majority of normal Americans (see: “Defund the Police”). But, as evidenced by the midterm results, it’s actually the GOP that has that problem. It would have been nuts for a Republican House Committee to tweet out, “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” under John Boehner because it doesn’t matter to the overwhelming majority of Americans. That GOP (which wasn’t exactly sane either) would be talking about political issues that matter to their constituents, like how they would combat inflation and outrageous spending by the Biden Administration. Their eye would be on the ball, so to speak. Instead the current GOP’s eyes are on whatever gets conservative eyeballs, be it Kanye, Musk’s takeover of Twitter, or Critical Race Theory.
I said it explicitly about DeSantis’s team earlier this summer, even before they dropped another super bizarre ad:
Leave aside the point made by Pete Buttigieg - that the ad made to highlight DeSantis’s anti-LGBT policies was kind of homoerotric - and just try to picture a 65 year old farmer in Iowa reacting to that video. They do not understand references to Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, or the “giga-chad” the way that incels on the far right do. They care mostly about inflation and immigration.
DeSantis’s campaign is flailing because they are too bogged down in fights on the Internet to invest in some retail politics. This is being reflected in the primary polls:
Also, this is a yikes:
I also will still maintain that if I am wrong and DeSantis miraculously wins the GOP nomination, he would lose to Biden by a greater margin than Trump, which is something now being reflected in polls.
I am personally hoping against all hope that a Republican alternative to Trump emerges and wins the primary, be it DeSantis, Mike Pence, or someone who would probably be a decent president, like Asa Hutchinson or Tim Scott. Trump is that big of a danger. But it’s going to be Trump, unless we get a miracle. And it certainly doesn’t look like it will be DeSantis.
I said this to a friend recently: I bet Vivek Ramaswamy ends up with more delegates than Ron DeSantis after the primary is completely over. If I’m wrong about that, then the next time you are in Denver your drink is on me.
OK, the Hunter Biden thing was nuts, but Ken White’s piece on what happened really summarizes everything perfectly and captures my thoughts. If you don’t feel like reading: Basically the government messed up, so did Hunter’s lawyers, and the judge wants everything in a brief to clean it up.
I really liked this piece on Sinead O’Connor, who passed away this week.
Jamelle Bouie’s piece on DeSantis’s modification of education standards in Florida (particularly relating to slavery) is really good. I will say this: I think there has been a little bit of an overreaction, especially when you read interviews with William B. Allen, who spearheaded the change. However, context is key, and DeSantis is the context here.
That is it for me this week. I will conclude by saying this: The January 6th indictment is coming, and I will write about it. But the Jackal will be taking a break in August, as is customary every year. I will sprinkle a few fun episodes for you to read, but if you don’t hear from me, enjoy the rest of your summer.