Donald Trump’s primary opponents often act more like domestic abuse victims than political adversaries. Their response to Trump’s admission of keeping classified documents was another example.
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A Fox News interview with former President Donald Trump that was broadcast Monday night is the latest proof that the race for the 2024 Republican nomination may be the weirdest in US history.
To truly highlight just how crazy it is, let’s recap what happened while omitting the names of the main players.
Candidate A is accused of a serious crime. Instead of attacking him, Candidates B through E offer various defenses on his behalf. Candidate E even says all of them should commit to pardon Candidate A if he is convicted and they are elected.
Then, Candidate A goes on national TV and essentially admits to the crimes he is accused of. Once again, the other candidates, who keep losing ground in the race, are staying quiet.
It makes one wonder why they are in the race at all.
There is an explanation, of course, so just bear with us.
Here is where things stand: After being indicted earlier this month for stealing classified documents, lying about returning them, and then obstructing the government’s attempts to get them back, Trump basically admitted that he committed these crimes.
In a sit-down interview with Fox News, Trump tried to justify his behavior when asked why he didn’t just return the documents in question.
“Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out,” Trump said. “I don’t want to hand that over to [the National Archives] yet. And I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen.”
Baier: Why not just hand them over? Trump: Because I had boxes, I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things pic.twitter.com/PwW85wlTzH
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 19, 2023
It remains to be seen whether the “I’m a hoarder” defense will work, but Trump’s attorneys were probably not thrilled that the former president was trying it out on national TV.
Also on Monday, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the defense lawyers could not release evidence in the case to the media and the public, and placed restrictions on Trump’s access to these materials.
When the interview aired, his attorneys must have wished that the judge had imposed a full gag order instead and that Trump would stop talking altogether. Since that won’t happen, it is apparent that the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination will just keep incriminating himself whenever given the chance.
What is equally clear is that none of his main rivals for the Republican nomination will use these opportunities to attack him.
Take Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, for now, can still be considered Trump’s top challenger. Instead of seizing this opportunity to at least say how reckless the former president’s behavior was and how erratic he is, the DeSantis campaign only focused on another part of the interview.
Specifically, it was a clip in which Bret Baier confronted the former president with a statement of his from 2016 in which Trump said he would only “hire the best people.”
Then, Baier noted that many of these best people now had very bad things to say about him (and Trump about them).
That is the clip the DeSantis attack team used to score political points, and not the one where Trump said he didn’t return classified information because it was stuffed in boxes with golf shirts and he first needed to sift through them.
Now, if you are asking yourself why this is, the answer is pretty simple: For years, Trump, with the help of some of the people who are now running against him, as well as the network that aired this interview, has conditioned Republican voters to accept the alternative reality that he created.
This means that going against that narrative now would likely do Trump’s opponents little good.
But that doesn’t make their behavior any less bizarre.