donald trump has attacked the judge in his criminal case from the safety of his Florida country club and on his social media platform, but failed to get a single word of complaint into Judge Juan Merchan’s face as he sat just feet away from distance at Trump’s arraignment.
“Yeah.” “Yeah.” “Thank you.”
Those answers to Merchan’s questions made up half the total number of words the former coup president delivered during a 45-minute hearing Tuesday in a lower Manhattan courthouse. The first two words were the point of that initial appearance: “Not guilty.”
Trump’s other responses were to Merchan’s questions about whether he understood the instructions Merchan was giving him about courtroom rules and his lawyers.
Just hours later, at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Trump delivered a 25-minute speech attacking the various prosecutors investigating his actions and claiming without evidence that Merchan is biased against him.
“I have a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for kamala harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign. And a lot,” Trump told a crowd of specially invited supporters.
Trump had expressed the same sentiment in an all-caps post on his social truth site a few hours before entering the courtroom: “THE VERY PARTISAN JUDGE AND HIS FAMILY ARE WELL KNOWN HATES OF TRUMP. HE WAS AN UNFAIR MESS IN A PREVIOUS TRUMP-RELATED CASE, HE DID NOT RECUSE, GAVE HORRIBLE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE JURY AND IMPOSSIBLE TO DEAL WITH DURING WITCH HUNT TRIAL. HIS DAUGHTER WORKED FOR ‘KAMALA’ AND NOW THE BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN. THE KANGAROO COURT!!!”
Trump campaign staff did not respond to questions from HuffPost about why Trump did not take the opportunity to raise his concerns directly with Merchan.
Other Republicans think they have a pretty good idea why.
“Because when it comes to real life, Trump is a coward,” said Jennifer Horn, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party. “His arrogance and bravado from him disappears when his MAGA audience isn’t there.”
Mike Murphy, a former top Republican consultant who has worked on several presidential campaigns, said Trump actually has little of the muscle he boasts of. “Trump’s private game is always different than the public spectacle he puts on for his voters, whom he considers to be yokels,” he said.
Trump’s arraignment Tuesday was for a grand jury indictment delivered the previous week that included 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from his payment of $130,000 in hush money to an adult film star in the days leading up to the 2016 election. Trump ended up winning by just 77,744 votes in three battleground states, meaning the successful suppression of the Stormy Daniels story may have been the deciding factor in his victory.
The next court date in that case isn’t until December, but Trump also faces possible charges from three other criminal investigations. Georgia prosecutors are investigating Trump’s attempt to force officials to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in that state. The US Department of Justice is also investigating Trump’s actions prior to January 6, 2021, including his fraudulent use of pro-Trump voter lists and his attempt to block the certification of Biden’s election. The Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into Trump’s refusal to hand over top-secret documents in defiance of a subpoena requiring him to do so.
Horn said Trump understands that Tuesday was just the beginning and it will only get worse. “I think he’s scared,” he said. “He knows this is just the beginning.”
Rick Tyler, who worked on Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 Republican ticket, said: “Outside the courtroom, Trump is the casting director, writer, set designer and lead actor on his reality show Game of Life. real. Inside the courtroom, he is a criminal defendant.”