How badly does Donald Trump not want to see the inside of a jail cell?
This is not a matter of abstract speculation about the man’s twisted psychology. This is an imminent question that had better be under urgent consideration, not only by Attorney General Merrick Garland and top Justice Department officials, but by the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Even now, social media is full of threats from heavily armed MAGAs promising “civil war” and attacks on federal law enforcement, as already attempted by the fool in Ohio who thought he had figured out how to break the bulletproof glass at the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office. Can we count on all of them being so stupid as to attempt an open, lone attack on an office that is monitored by armed agents? I don’t think so.
When the indictments come down and Trump’s lawyers tell him they are negotiating his surrender to federal agents, nothing will be simpler for him than to post a message like the one depicted above to his followers, over his much-mocked “Truth Social” website. And what happens then? How can he be safely taken into custody if the millions of Americans who have already indicated to pollsters that they believe anti-government violence may be justifiable, turn out not to be bluffing?
The questions quickly multiply. Are there contingency plans to shut down Fox News and right-wing talk radio hosts if they call for armed insurgency? If not, how is their propaganda to be countered? How about the traitorous Congressional Republicans, which is the vast majority of them? The fascist junta on the Supreme Court?
In the dire spring of 1861, Lincoln traveled in disguise to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. There were fears that Maryland would join Virginia is seceding, cutting off the capital. The complexities and dangers of that situation may turn out to be relatively simple compared to the scenario we will soon be confronting, in a country whose divisions are not relatively tidily confined by geography.