Rick Scott's one-man rally for Trump exposes GOP abandonment

There has been remarkably little public support for Donald Trump during his first criminal trial

By Heather Digby Parton


Published May 10, 2024 9:30AM (EDT)

Sen. Rick Scott presents President Donald Trump with a tiny ceremonial bowl (NRSC)
Sen. Rick Scott presents President Donald Trump with a tiny ceremonial bowl (NRSC)

There have been a lot of raised eyebrows over the fact that with the exception of one appearance by his son Eric, Donald Trump's family is not present to support him at his criminal trial in Manhattan. Normally you would see the wife and the adult kids lined up behind the defendant to show a united front, even if the subject at hand was uncomfortable.  There really isn't such a thing as a pleasant criminal trial but it's something that is commonly done and I would certainly have thought that it would be wise in this case, since he's running for president and all. It would have been especially useful to at least see Melania and Ivanka playing the trad-wife and loyal daughter, suggesting by their presence that their man can do no wrong in their eyes. They're supposed to be Republicans, after all. 

Why MAGA hasn't turned up to support him in his moment of need when there always seems to be a few thousand who like to go to his rallies is a mystery but it clearly has Trump feeling down in the dumps.

But how could they? Everyone knows that his cultivated image of a wealthy playboy who wined and dined beautiful women like he was some kind of matinee idol is another one of his lies. This man had a casting couch routine more in the mold of a creepy Harvey Weinstein than a glamorous Tony Stark and they know it. 

Trump is intensely frustrated over the fact that because of the judge's gag order, he is no longer allowed to verbally assault and threaten the witnesses or the jury. But since the judge told him this week that he will have no choice but to jail him for contempt if he violates it one more time, he's managed to keep it together and confine his insults and threats to the judge, the prosecutors and Joe Biden. But you can feel the tension in Trump when he makes his frequent forays into the strange echo chamber hallway where he rants about the proceedings and reads clippings from Fox News personalities saying the trial is a travesty. 

One can imagine how the thought of going to jail petrifies him. This is a man who has been pampered his entire life. His elaborate morning ablutions with the hair and the make-up routine alone make any kind of imprisonment unthinkable. But he really, really wants to go after Stormy Daniels, so much so that he had his lawyers ask the judge to lift the gag order for her specifically since she is now finished testifying. (The judge said no, that he was preserving the integrity of the court.) 

For Trump this goes against every fiber of his being, as was not so coincidentally conveyed to the jury yesterday afternoon when one of his book publishers testified and was asked to read aloud some passages from his books, including this charming commentary:

"For many years I've said that if someone screws you, screw them back. If somebody hurts you you just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can. Like it says in the Bible, an eye for an eye." 

Trump will just have to let his allies in the right-wing media do that for him for the moment — and they are more than eager to comply. 

It's doubtful that Trump wanted his family to be there to hear all these sordid details in person anyway. But he reportedly was quite upset that his political allies weren't in attendance during the first two weeks of the trial. According to NBC News, he whined "no one is defending me" and pouted over the fact that there wasn't a big crowd of protesters outside. He lied about that, of course, and said on camera that there were hundreds of people blocked from protesting.

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He actually called for his followers to come to the trial on his Truth Social platform — “GO OUT AND PEACEFULLY PROTEST. RALLY BEHIND MAGA. SAVE OUR COUNTRY!” — but other than a dozen or so kooks, they haven't shown up. From the very beginning of his legal travails he's issued threats that his people "won't stand for it" saying as far back as 2022, “If these radical, vicious racist prosecutors do anything wrong, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had … in Washington, D.C, in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt." 

Why MAGA hasn't turned up to support him in his moment of need when there always seems to be a few thousand who like to go to his rallies is a mystery but it clearly has him feeling down in the dumps. So now he's got some of his employees, political cronies and right-wing media personalities attending the trial to give him a little boost. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who Politico reports hangs around Trump as much as possible, was among the first to heed the call. Also showing up despite having much more important things to do were campaign managers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita along with advisor Boris Epshteyn and Natalie Harp, who the New York Times describes this way:

Called “the human printer” by colleagues, Ms. Harp often carries a portable device so she can quickly provide Mr. Trump with hard copies of mood-boosting news articles and social media posts by people praising him.

That's just pathetic. 

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The lawyer who has lost several cases for Trump but who defends him vociferously on TV, Alina Habba, has appeared in the courtroom. And on Thursday former judge and current Fox News member of "The Five," Jeanine Pirro was in attendance. The big name of the day, however, was Florida Senator Rick Scott who went the extra mile and held a press conference where he compared Trump to himself:

Scott's company paid $1.7 billion in fines to settle charges of rampant Medicare fraud, at the time the largest ever imposed, and Scott has previously said, “I take responsibility for what happened on my watch as CEO.” Today he says he's a victim of the deep state. 

The ambitious senator is said to be angling for the VP slot or Senate majority leader and he knows that whining like a five-year-old about being victimized is the quickest way to Donald Trump's heart. Scott's the first contender to be there in his time of need and I'm sure Trump noticed. If the rest of them haven't figured out by now that job one is defending Dear Leader and singing his praises then they'd better just take their names off the list right now. Look for the whole crew to traipse up there over the next few weeks. Donald Trump needs cheering up and nothing makes him happier than lackeys begging for his favor. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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