Speed Reads

Trump Trash Talk Theory

Trump has 2 reasons for attacking his Manhattan trial judge, New York Times' Maggie Haberman says

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan declined to place a gag order on former President Donald Trump at his arraignment in Manhattan on 34 felony charges Tuesday, despite Trump's earlier posts calling Merchan a "highly partisan judge" whose family members are "Trump haters." But the judge did request that all parties in the case refrain from conduct or comment "that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest, or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individuals."

Hours later, Trump appeared before a crowd of supporters at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and doubled down, calling Merchan "a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family" — Trump and his two adult sons have specially singled out Merchan's adult daughter, who works at a political consultancy for Democratic campaigns. Trump also used his speech to attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg; Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing two federal investigations of Trump; and a Georgia district attorney investigating him for election interference in her state.

Over the next 24 hours, Merchan and his family "have received multiple threats," and Bragg and his aides continue to get threatening calls, emails, and letters, NBC News reported Wednesday, citing two sources familiar with the matter. New York police and court officers have ramped up security for Bragg's office, Merchan, and the court.

Asked about Trump's attacks on Merchan and Bragg, campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said "the Constitution guarantees impartial process and free speech" and Trump "is laying out all the facts." One Trump lawyer, Todd Blanche, explained that Trump is "absolutely frustrated and upset" with this "grave injustice," while another attorney, Joe Tacopina, said Trump is just "vocal" and "speaks his mind," adding: "Sometimes there's no filter. It's direct. But that's him, and that's his methodology."

New York Times Trump expert Maggie Haberman had another explanation for Trump's attacks on Merchan. "I think he is trying to get the judge to recuse himself," she told CNN Wednesday morning. Yes, "it's also in part about that Trump doesn't believe systems ought to apply to him and he's going to push them as far as he can," Haberman said, but to a large degree, "Trump is trying to change the judge." 

Still, who in their right mind would "go to trial and talk s--t about the judge? That's bold!" Roy Wood Jr. marveled on Wednesday's Daily Show. "The judge could destroy you! ... And he didn't just call out the judge — Trump called out the kids. You don't pull the kids into it. Even rappers don't go after the kids, and they murder each other! And Trump said the man has a Trump-hating wife, but to be fair, I don't even know if that was an insult — because Donald Trump also has a Trump-hating wife." Melania Trump did not attend Trump's harangue, he noted, "and the speech was at the house!"