Dems Playing Guilty Verdict For All It’s Worth 

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Former President Donald Trump’s “guilty” verdict in the hush money trial wasn’t even an hour old before Democrats used it to leverage support for their side in local and congressional races, especially in swing states where a 2024 victory is anything but certain. 

Within 20 minutes of the news, New York Democratic candidate Mondaire Jones accused his opponent, Republican Michael Lawler, of supporting a “criminal convict.” Nebraskan state senator, Democrat Tony Vargas, took a similar tact and pointed out that his Republican challenger, Don Bacon, “enabled” Trump’s “lawlessness.” 

With skyrocketing inflation, unchecked illegal immigration, and high crime rates resonating throughout the nation, Democrats have been waiting for something, anything, to come to fruition in one of Trump’s trials, and now, they have it. 

It’s unimportant that Trump’s “criminal conviction” was for mistakenly mislabeling records rather than a “crime” with merit. It’s enough that Democrats can now call him a “convicted felon.”  Nor is it important that the conviction will be overturned when it faces the scrutiny of an appeal. 

For now, Democrats hope that if they say “convicted felon” enough, it will erode Trump’s support and, along with it, voter support for candidates who endorsed Trump. 

Hours after the guilty verdict was revealed, the Democratic House Majority PAC started releasing statements under the headline “I support crime,” targeting GOP incumbents who defended Trump. The Democrats have focused their message on emphasizing that the verdict demonstrates every American is accountable for their actions. They aim to remind voters in competitive House districts that their Republican opponents cannot separate themselves from Trump.  

Democrats are nothing if not predictable. When they believed that they could keep Trump off the ballot by resurrecting a dusty, irrelevant constitutional clause aimed at civil war criminals, they were quick to broaden the net to keep Republicans who agreed there was hanky-panky in the 2020 election off the ballot, too. 

Meredith Kelly, a political consultant who managed the press operations for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2016 and 2018 campaigns, elatedly advises candidates that they don’t need to “shy away” from referring to Trump as a felon. However, she cautions against using the term as the “centerpiece of their campaigns.” 

Former Obama White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer agreed and advised Democrats to play up Trump’s conviction and let Biden remain quiet to “stay above the controversy.” Pfeiffer argued that Democrats should continually refer to the “serious crimes” Trump was convicted of and demand that Republicans explain their continued support for him. 

Trump faces four trials, but the hush money case draws parallels to the “Access Hollywood” incident, when Trump engaged in locker room talk with a wired reporter and bragged about his ability to use his power and money to win favor with women. Democrats hope the hush money scandal is more personal for voters than the other charges related to the 2020 election and classified documents. Despite some Democrats’ initial hesitation to engage with this issue, when Republicans condemned the verdict, Democrats saw an opportunity to frame the narrative to their advantage. 

But Biden refuses to stay silent and let Democratic candidates weigh in. He had been waiting at the White House for the verdict and, in an unprecedented and unprofessional move, basked in the victory that his administration orchestrated.  

Shortly after the verdict was handed down, a thrilled and breathless Biden suggested that it was “reckless” for Americans to say the trial was “rigged” because they “didn’t like the verdict.” He went on to paint the trial as a normal one and claimed that Trump was given “every opportunity to defend himself.” 

But those who watched the trial saw Judge Juan Merchan squash defense witnesses, even prohibiting some from appearing in court. He encouraged irrelevant testimony and continued the trial despite no identified “crime.” Merchan directed the prosecutor’s argument from the bench and gave the jury instructions guaranteed to result in a “guilty” verdict.  

Biden added that Trump would be allowed to appeal the conviction, but Democrats are comfortable with that. The appeal will not be heard before the 2024 election, and Team Biden hopes they will be in power again by the time it happens. At that point, it won’t matter. 

Democrats have shown their willingness to weaponize the justice system, and it’s not surprising they will now weaponize the verdict. But early indications show that Democrats vastly overestimate the verdict’s importance in the upcoming election. Trump’s campaign website crashed under the weight of nearly $35 million in donations immediately after the verdict.  

Democrats are known for overplaying their hand, and they have done it again. The best they can hope for is to whip their voters into a frenzy. Trump’s supporters have dug in, and they aren’t going anywhere.