It's time to believe Donald Trump

As the walls close, Trump's threats intensify — and he's deadly serious

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published July 31, 2023 5:45AM (EDT)

US President Donald Trump speaks at "Save America March" rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks at "Save America March" rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Donald Trump's attorneys were told by the Department of Justice last week that he may soon be indicted and arrested for alleged crimes connected to the Jan. 6 coup attempt. That would make the third time that Trump is indicted and arrested for allegedly committing crimes this year. The ex-president also faces an indictment in Georgia for additional alleged crimes connected to the events of Jan. 6 and the plot against American democracy. Also on Thursday, special counsel Jack Smith and his investigators filed additional charges against Trump that include obstructing justice in connection with the Mar-A-Lago stolen classified documents case.

If Trump is found guilty of committing all of these alleged crimes, he may spend the rest of his life in prison.

How is Donald Trump going to respond? Predictably. He will threaten and encourage, through direct means as well as stochastic terrorism and other veiled commands, acts of violence, chaos, mayhem and murder. To that point, in response to his impending indictment and arrest for the crimes of Jan. 6, Trump is behaving like an unrepentant reprobate, as he rants and throws a fit on his Truth Social disinformation platform. Trump's verbal explosions there these last few days include statements such as:

"We'll have fun on the stand with all of these people that say the Presidential Election wasn't Rigged and Stollen. THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY!!!"


"They ought to throw Deranged Jack Smith and his Thug Prosecutors in jail, with Meritless Garland and Trump Hating Lisa Monaco. They have totally Weaponized the Department of Injustice. Whatever happened to the Crooked Joe Biden Boxes Case? Why was Hillary Clinton allowed to delete 33,000 emails, many of them Classified, AFTER getting a Subpoena from Congress? Why was Bill Clinton allowed to take tapes out of the W.H. in his socks? Why has no other President ever been charged? ELECTION FRAUD!"

"How can Deranged Jack Smith bring a case on January 6th., as ridiculous as it is anyway, when I have already won such a case, and been fully acquitted, in the U.S. Senate? In other words, I was Impeached on this, and WON!!! ELECTION INTERFERENCE & PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT, all rolled up as one. We are truly a Nation In Decline!"

"At the direction of Crooked Joe Biden and his Weaponized DOJ, Deranged Jack Smith is attempting to destroy the lives of two fine people who have worked for me (and have done a great job!) for a long time. They are being persecuted with one goal, to "Get Trump." This is textbook Third World intimidation by rabid, lawless prosecutors. These same craven tactics were used, and failed, during the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt and other Hoaxes. We will not let Radical Lunatics destroy our Country!"

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To reiterate: There is no evidence of real election interference against Trump and the Republican Party. Trump is again trafficking in the Big Lie, where any such "election interference" or related skullduggery in the 2020 election was actually committed by Donald Trump and his Republican Party and other agents to suppress, nullify, and outright rig and steal votes to keep him in power against the will of the American people.

Violence, malice, and menace are the animating energy for Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.

Yet at a rally held in Eerie, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump continued with his fascist-authoritarian Big Lie verbal fusillades and other mouth noises against reality, the truth, and human decency as he continued to proclaim that he is being "persecuted" by some vast conspiracy because he is a champion of the MAGA movement and "real Americans":

They waited two and a half, almost three years, so that they could bring this up right in the middle of my presidential election because it's election interference. They're crooked people...You know they're not indicting me; they're indicting you. I just happen to be standing in their way that's all it is....Until the FBI, DOJ, and IRS hand over every scrap of paper they have on the Biden Crime Families corrupt businesses dealings. We have to know, and the public deserves to know.

Fake news is all you get. They refuse to discuss the Biden crime family, but enjoy covering false indictments of Donald Trump, who has done nothing wrong

During his speech, Trump made an exceptionally vulgar attack on President Joe Biden, calling him "a dumb son of a bitch":

We have somebody that's not at the top of his game, never was at the top of a game. Never was...We have a guy who's a dumb son of a b***h to allow this to happen… Every dollar spent attacking me by Republicans is $1 given straight to the Biden campaign if he makes it.

The crowd of MAGA faithful in Eerie was in ecstasy.  

Donald Trump is not going to change or otherwise modify or correct his behavior. He is 77 years old; violence is core and central to his personhood, identity, and way of being in the world. As mental health professionals continue to warn, Trump has shown himself to be a sociopath if not a psychopath. His collective behavior such as the coup attempt on Jan. 6, democide in response to the COVID pandemic, being impeached twice, the multiple indictments and arrests, embrace of neofascism, massive corruption, malignant narcissism and utter disregard for reality and facts, political cultism, and other pathological behavior by an American president is unprecedented in the country's history.

Thus, the problem and growing peril for the nation: what happens when the unprecedented keeps repeating itself and by doing so becomes normalized and no longer "shocking" or "surprising"?

Trump's threats and plans are not hyperbole, bluster, or just "politics" and "polarization."

In continuing with his many and varied incitements to violence and civil disorder, last Monday Trump shared an image on his Truth Social disinformation platform with the caption, "'Nothing can stop what is coming." This is language associated with the antisemitic Qanon conspiracy cult and a threat of massive destruction and violence in the form of a "storm" – a bloody revolution and purge – against the "deep state" and other "enemies" of the movement and "White Christianity" and "real Americans." A large percentage of Republicans believe in some or all of the Qanon conspiracy-lie and its claims about how Democrats, liberals, progressives, "the left" and other elements of some global cabal-secret society control the world using superpowers they obtain from drinking the blood of children and other victims.

The mainstream news media, however, with several notable exceptions such as MSNBC, was mostly silent about Trump's renewed Qanon threats.

And not to be ignored by a public and news media that are afflicted with a very short attention span and what too often appears to be a form of organized forgetting and collective amnesia, several weeks ago Donald Trump shared what he believed to be the Washington DC home address of former president Barack Obama on his Truth Social disinformation platform. As Trump intended, one of his MAGA cult members, who was armed with two guns, a machete, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, attempted to gain access to Obama's home with the goal of assassinating him.

On his Truth Social disinformation platform, Trump shared audio of him saying that "If you f**k around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are going to do things to you that have never been done before."

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The ex-president continues to harangue, insult, and generally make threats against Attorney General Merrick Garland, Special Counsel Jack Smith, and the other prosecutors and members of law enforcement who are attempting to hold him accountable – like any other person in the United States should be – under the law.

Trump has also threatened that if he were to go to prison for his alleged crimes that "I think it's a very dangerous thing to even talk about, because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters, much more passion than they had in 2020 and much more passion than they had in 2016." So there is a move to keep the names of the jury members in Trump's impending criminal trials a secret because of concerns about their safety in the face of death threats and other acts of intimidation and violence.

Violence, malice, and menace are the animating energy for Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign and his Hitlerian promise of a final battle and revenge against him and his MAGA movement's perceived enemies such as the Democrats, liberals, progressives, the news media, and any others who dare to oppose them and their plans to end multiracial pluralistic democracy. Trump's threats and plans are not hyperbole, bluster, or just "politics" and "polarization." These are real threats that should be responded to appropriately and with extreme haste.

On this, we should heed journalist Masha Gessen's wisdom:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: Humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable.

National security, law enforcement, and other experts are continuing to warn that right-wing extremism is 1) the greatest threat to the country's domestic safety and security and 2) that there are many millions of Trump's followers who believe that President Biden and the Democrats are usurpers, otherwise illegitimate, and who "stole" the White House from Trump and the MAGA movement.

What should be done to stop Donald Trump and his repeated incitements and commands to violence and mayhem?

In a recent interview with host Dean Obeidallah on SiriusXM, Glenn Kirschner, who is a former federal prosecutor, explained why Donald Trump should be taken into custody immediately:

Donald Trump should be detained pending trial….And I say that not from my own personal preference or animosity, I have for the man....I say it because the law provides that when there is clear and convincing evidence that a defendant pending trial presents a danger to the community he is supposed to be detained, or she is supposed to be detained pending trial, that's the law….Everyone has ignored that when it comes to Donald Trump.

Psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank, who is the author of the book "Trump on the Couch", agrees with Kirschner. In a recent conversation here at Salon, Dr. Frank told me that:

He gives permission to unstable people to carry out their grievances at a murderous level. This is not just because violent people love Trump, but because they are following Trump's stated practice of striking back "ten times as hard" with any means available when he feels wronged.

I'm beginning to think a warning, or even a gag order is not sufficient. He needs to be secured where nobody can hear his genuinely dangerous outpourings. And it needs to be now.

As I continue with my efforts to warn the American people about how dangerous Donald Trump and his neofascist movement continues to be, there are many moments when I feel like I am in a documentary film or TV series that is being directed by Joshua Oppenheimer or Errol Morris. I imagine myself sitting across from a detective, discussing a mass murderer, a cannibalistic serial killer, mad bomber or terrorist, or some other evildoer. I slowly read off the long list of arrests and criminal incidents and other warnings – the proof – of what this man was doing in the years and decades before he was finally arrested and put in prison. The detective, nervous, looks away sheepishly, his eyes searching for some type of explanation or deflection. He mutters, "We couldn't have imagined, it was all so shocking. Who could have ever guessed such a thing was happening? I press back, "The evidence was right in front of you. The police could have stopped him years ago and his victims would still be alive." I say nothing; Silence is an interviewer's friend. The camera focuses back in on the detective's face and lingers on it for a few seconds. He has nothing else to say. The screen then fades to black as he takes off the mic, gets up from the chair, and then exits the room.  

That is America in the Age of Trump.

Will there be an epilogue and some satisfying closure from Donald Trump's criminal trials? That is the stuff of Hollywood movies. The Trumpocene is real life. 

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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