Donald Trump's chief defender and apologist in the U.S. Senate, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, says there will be "riots in the streets" if Trump is prosecuted for taking classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Does that sound like some sort of death rattle? Perhaps the death knell of the MAGA philosophy?
Graham's warning came on Fox News on Sunday after this statement by Trump's lawyers to Attorney General Merrick Garland:
“President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is ‘angry,’” a Trump lawyer told a senior Justice Department official three days after the search at Mar-a-Lago. “The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”
Right. Trump wants to "take the heat down."
In fact, as Graham's comment demonstrates, Trump and his acolytes are determined to increase the pressure on Garland to ease up on his investigation warning that Trump's prosecution will prompt his already crazed supporters, encouraged by the right-wing media, to launch more violence against those who want this criminal ex-president to be brought to justice.
Graham made his statement in the context of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server for official business, an act that likely cost her the election. That is far different from Trump removing classified documents from the White House after his defeat, and taking them home, and doing who-knows-what with them. Some of those documents reportedly related to nuclear weapons.
And then, Trump posted on his so-called Truth Social website that the FBI deliberately botched an investigation of President Biden's son, Hunter, which cost him -- Trump -- the election, and so the only right thing to do, he says, is to call a new election, now.
"So now it comes out, conclusively, that the FBI BURIED THE HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP STORY BEFORE THE ELECTION knowing that, if they didn't, 'Trump would have easily won the 2020 Presidential Election,'" Trump said Monday in a Truth Social post. "This is massive FRAUD & ELECTION INTERFERENCE at a level never seen before in our Country. REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!"
Are the walls closing in?
Spreading the Lies
Nevertheless, his BS still is believed by millions in his base, including Trump-supporting candidates who continue to spread misinformation, including claims that the 2020 election was stolen. According to a new Washington Post investigation, from January to July 2022, on average each day, 36 percent of news that Republican candidates shared online came from unreliable sites, while the same was true for only 2 percent of news shared by Democratic candidates each day.
The upshot is that Trump's army of GOP candidates, many of whom are seeking election to Congress in November, are willingly and deliberately relying on Trump's lies to pave their road to glory.
As The Post pointed out, Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen, and his Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally led some supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol. Some members of Congress, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA.) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), have repeatedly shared covid-19 misinformation and embraced QAnon conspiracy theories. And more than 100 Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms continue to promote Trump’s election fraud claims.
But is all of this working?
It wasn't long ago that Republicans were felling pretty smug about their chances of winning control of Congress, and promised to do everything from impeach Biden to investigate the Jan. 6 committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's role in it.
But times have changed, and changed quickly.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and make it possible for dozens of states to outlaw abortions, combined with the continued legal attacks on Trump on a variety of fronts -- including the classified documents fiasco -- has reportedly softened his support among many more sensible Republicans, especially women.
In addition, the "crummy candidates" put up by Republicans -- especially in the Senate, appear to be on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and jeopardizing GOP chances of taking over that chamber.
Democrats are maintaining small but steady leads in polls in Senate races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio, while seeing encouraging polls in Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. In fact, Democrats' hopes are buoyed in Senate races in North Carolina, where polls now have the candidates virtually tied, and in Florida, where incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio is being challenged by Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief, with some polls showing her in the lead. That would be a shocking upset for Republicans.
Newsweek reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told a group of business leaders over the weekend that the GOP likely has a 50-50 chance of taking control of the Senate in November.
And even if they do, the Senate—which is split 50-50 with Democrats in control because of Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote—will likely remain closely divided, probably forcing Democratic President Joe Biden to remain moderate on policy during the second half of his term, McConnell said.
Some of those "crummy candidates" include Trump-aligned candidates like Pennsylvania's Mehmet Oz and Georgia Republican Herschel Walker, who have made widely publicized blunders in recent weeks. McConnell said last week that the quality of this year's crop of candidates created a "greater likelihood" the House would flip Republican than would the Senate.
Newsweek pointed out that McConnell's trepidation comes as the Cook Political Report has downgraded Republicans' chances in several hotly contested Senate races nationwide, citing "weak, divisive candidates in many key races." Though five Democratically controlled Senate seats are potentially up for grabs under Cook's current Senate ratings, five currently Republican seats are also vulnerable.
The House of Representatives
Meanwhile, the GOP's previous bullish outlook for the House is getting a little dicier, although most prognosticators still predict Democrats will still lose control -- albeit by a smaller margin than previously thought.
US News & World Report wrote this week that In four special elections for House seats (all of which happened after the Supreme Court's abortion decision), Democrats polled better than Biden did in those districts in the 2020 presidential election.
For example, Democrat Pat Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in an upstate New York swing district. That win does not give Democrats a pickup (it was held by Democrat Anthony Delgado, who left to become New York's lieutenant governor), but it is the sort of district that would typically flip parties in a midterm election when the president is unpopular, US News wrote.
In an interview with CNN, Republican Representative Fred Upton (MI) predicted that his party won't be able to retake the House with a large majority and that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the party's front-runner for House speaker, will face obstacles. It is McCarthy who has been making bold threats about what would happen to Democrats if his party takes control of the House.
Upton said he expects "a narrow majority for the GOP that may not be all that much greater than what [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi has today." That slim majority will make it "very hard to have any sense of a governing majority," he said.
Newsweek reported that Upton's remarks come as some congressional Republicans have recently signaled they've lowered their expectations for the midterms, which were expected to bring easy election victories for the GOP, but the party's advantages appear to have waned, particularly with the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The Coming Election
But that's not the only factor that will influence voters in November.
Republicans have been hitting Biden and the Democrats hard over rising gas prices that have helped trigger inflation, but now those prices have moderated -- by more than $1 per gallon in recent weeks -- and inflation news has also slightly improved. What happens between now and Election Day on that front likely will heavily influence the result.
But those lower gas prices and improved inflation reports, combined with Biden's first-term achievements provide positive reasons for voters to shy away from Republicans, their fear mongering, and their lies.
Among those achievements are the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, the $1.9 trillion COVID relief deal, action to combat climate change, reduced unemployment, and most recently the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower health care costs and drug prices, combat the climate crisis, and crack down on billionaire tax cheats.
“What we’re seeing now, is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy," said Biden at a private reception with Democrats. " It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the – I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”
The White House says Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet members will travel this fall, promoting the Democratic agenda. That will occur, no doubt, as Republicans continue to spread Trump's lies. In November, when freedom is on the ballot, we will see who prevails.