Was Announcing His Candidacy So Early In The Indictment Season A Miscalculation?*
One week after the 2022 midterms, Trump declared his candidacy for 2024, among the earliest such announcements ever by a presidential candidate. Even before the mid-terms he suggested an early target date to declare. Some on the right thought — feared — he might announce on the eve of the mid-terms. Trump wanted to ride and take full credit for the predicted “red tsunami.” He would blame others if mid-terms history did not repeat.
The reason for declaring his candidacy and beginning his campaign a full two years out, however, was no mystery.
A formal candidacy, he calculated, would lend credibility to his false claim that the then criminal investigations were not evidence-based and were entirely political, that he was the victim of a weaponized Department of Justice deployed by an incumbent political opponent to defeat him. And he hoped that pressure on Merrick Garland would slow the investigations and stall any criminal prosecutions until he won the 2024 election. He could then shut down his justice department’s investigations — there would be no prosecutions of a sitting president, in any event — and self-pardon if he thought it necessary, assuming that’s a thing.
He is running to stay out of prison. Maureen Dowd said:
“The man who tried to overthrow the government was held Thursday by the government he tried to overthrow, a few blocks from where the attempted overthrow took place and a stone’s throw from the White House he yearns to return to, to protect himself from the government he tried to overthrow.”
While his early declaration of candidacy to challenge President Biden dramatically changed the landscape, Trump mistook what that change would be. The announcement, predictably, provoked an immediate response by Attorney General Merrick Garland which, it turns out, proved disastrous for Trump. A timid Mr. Garland appointed a Special Counsel in his quest to restore independence and political neutrality to a Department of Justice that Trump considered his personal goon squad to settle scores, punish people he thought disloyal to him, and soften his increasingly corrupt visage with a Kari Lake-style filter. And, of course, to…