Wednesday, June 19, 2024

OPINION: GOP celebrates Trump convictions

by CHUCK MALLOY/Guest Opinion
| June 7, 2024 1:00 AM

Forget about Nikki Haley coming out of the woodwork at the Republican National Convention to rescue the party from a bad situation.

Donald Trump is doing fine with his 34 felony convictions, and Republicans couldn’t be happier. They are acting as if Trump were handed his ticket to a second term in the White House, courtesy of President Biden’s judicial department. Of course, there’s no evidence that Biden had anything to do with the New York City trial. But if Republicans say it enough, then people will start believing it.  

In the meantime, the former president is heading into the July convention with momentum and galvanized support, with the word “conviction” becoming a drinking game of sorts. Say it 34 times and that brings in about $50 million to his campaign coffers.

Three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation — Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressman Mike Simpson — wasted little time making comments on social media. They blasted the judge, prosecutors and, yes, Biden’s justice department, for what they viewed as a disgusting spectacle. Historically, this was the first time that a former president received a felony conviction, let alone 34. To Republicans, it might as well be 34 Olympic gold medals.

Dave Leroy, a former Idaho attorney general and longtime politico, had plenty of thoughts about the convictions. What he saw during Trump’s trial was on the level of Keystone Cops, branding the exercise as a farce.

“The mighty has fallen, and I’m not just talking about the defendant (Trump), but the system has taken a mighty blow,” Leroy told me. “The convictions represent a national tragedy and makes the American judicial system a laughingstock. The people of the state of New York suffer greater injury from a single unprosecuted shoplifting case than they did from 34 business entries made seven years ago.”

The idea, Leroy says, was to prove that Trump was involved in election interference. In the end, it was the judge and prosecutors who were doing the interfering.

“They collectively devised this conviction against the leading presidential candidate five months before the November date on which the national leadership will be decided,” Leroy said. “The problem will not go away this week, or in July, but it will be a national scar for at least the next 24 months when these decisions wander through the New York appeals process and maybe to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

For now, put aside issues such as border control, the economy and national security. This election is about whether voters want a president who has 34 felony convictions, or if Trump was a victim in a scam trial. As Leroy sees it, that’s how prosecutors wanted it to play out.

 “There can be no good result here for the American public, or for American democracy during this coming election cycle and well into the next presidential period,” he said. “Our system is not broken, but the weakness has been glaringly exposed.”

The next phase comes on July 11 when the judge imposes his sentence — and that’s four days before the start of the GOP convention. Leroy says the trial flaws likely will be exposed during the sentencing.

“There probably is, in the traditional sense, no appropriate sentence that the judge can render that does not further underscore the mockery of this case,” he said. “Technically, when somebody is convicted of 34 felonies, they are headed to a penal facility for a significant period of years. Anything less confirms this case is a farce and a mere exercise of politics.”

As grave as those 34 felony convictions seem, I can think of worse things Trump has done. My list starts with what Trump did, or didn’t do, during every waking moment on Jan. 6. A close second was his call to the Georgia secretary of state, demanding that he flip the election results in that state.

“Your premise is correct,” Leroy says, agreeing there are more serious matters to consider in relation to the former president. Yet, the case that gets the national spotlight is the one that involves a former porn star.

Gov. Brad Little and others (including Trump) say the voters in this election will be the ultimate jury, and they’re probably right. It’s too bad that the campaign has degraded to court drama as opposed to the issues that people should really care about.

Note: In last week’s column, former congressional candidate Bryan Smith’s role with the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee was misrepresented. He is not part of the group nor has he been a part of the group for some time.

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Silver Valley native Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at