How the mighty have fallen

Serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) Trump is that curious creature, an insecure narcissist. As a narcissist, he has an inflated view of himself, but because he is insecure, he needs to have his self-image constantly reinforced by others. That works for him when he is in a bubble of sycophants and adoring cult followers but that bubble gets pricked when he steps out into the real world.

Such was the case when he arrived for his arraignment in a courthouse in Washington DC on Thursday to be subjected to the little indignities that most of us would barely notice, as this article describes.

The shock of blond-grey hair was familiar. So was the blue suit, white shirt and red tie. So was the conspicuously assertive tug of the suit jacket.

But the Donald Trump who walked into courtroom 22 on Thursday was a Trump that the public never sees – meek, shrunken, stripped of bravado and any sense of control. And, quite possibly, scared.

This is a man who has always loved beating his chest, sticking his names on buildings, staging military parades and cosying up to dictators. But on Thursday, away from the TV cameras, this wannabe American strongman was cut down to size with exquisite symbolism.

For four years, Trump would enter rooms to the strains of “Hail to the Chief” and everyone would rise to their feet. Now the power dynamics were reversed: at the cry of “All rise!”, it was he who was forced to stand.

Long accused of sexism, racism and xenophobia, he had to defer to magistrate judge Moxila Upadhyaya, a woman born in Gujarat, India. His future trial will be overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan, a woman born in Kingston, Jamaica, and appointed to the bench by Barack Obama.

When Upadhyaya, firm but courteous, took her seat, she called him “Mr Trump” rather than “President Trump” – a citizen, no more and no less.

Dethroned, Trump was forced to undergo the same legal rituals as any other defendant. When a court deputy read aloud the name of the case – “United States of America v Donald J Trump” – he shook his head in disapproval.

Trump raised his right hand and was sworn in. There was a flicker of confusion as he stood up to give his name only to be told that sitting would do just fine. “Yes, Your Honour, Donald J Trump,” he said, adding: “John.” He gave his age as 77.

Asked if he had taken a medication or substance in the last 24 hours that would make it hard to answer, Trump replied: “No, I have not.”

Perhaps most sobering of all was Upadhyaya’s recitation of the charges and the “term of imprisonment” that Trump could face “if convicted”. He leaned forward in his chair, listening intently. Was he imagining himself behind bars, the cell door slamming shut? Could anything terrify him more?

Upadhyaya asked for Trump’s plea. “Not guilty,” he said, with an emphasis on “Not”.
The judge agreed to release Trump on conditions, including that he not have contact about the case with any witnesses unless lawyers are present. In a cordial tone that belied the seriousness of her words, she said: “If you fail to comply with any conditions of your release, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.”

Legal experts suggested this is unusual – but maybe necessary for a man twice impeached and thrice indicted.

SSAT is unlikely to get much more deference from the federal judge Tanya Chutkan who was randomly selected to oversee his trial. She has overseen many of the cases involving the January 6th rioters and has issued stiff sentences, sometimes even more than prosecutors asked for. It was she who also opened the floodgates of information that enabled the congressional committee and special counsel Jack Smith to assemble their cases, suggesting that she is skeptical of sweeping claims of presidential privilege.

[T]he U.S. district court judge already dealt the ex-president one of the most significant legal blows of his lifetime, triggering perhaps the greatest deluge of evidence about his bid to subvert the 2020 election — a scheme for which he now stands charged with serious crimes.

The Obama-appointed jurist ruled in fall 2021 that the House Jan. 6 select committee could access reams of Trump’s White House files — a ruling that was subsequently upheld by an appeals court and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court. That evidence — call logs, memos, internal strategy papers and more from the desks of Trump’s most trusted advisers — became the backbone of the committee’s evidence and shaped much of the public’s understanding of his effort to seize a second term he didn’t win.

Much of that evidence resurfaced Tuesday in special counsel Jack Smith’s four-count indictment of Trump, which referenced call logs and White House records that were already familiar to Americans who tracked the Jan. 6 committee proceedings.

“Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan wrote in her 2-year-old ruling, a rebuke that is sure to echo as she prepares to preside over the newest criminal case against the current GOP frontrunner for the presidential nomination in 2024.

That comment, that the plaintiff is not president must rankle SSAT, who apparently likes to be called ‘Mr. President”.

SSAT is chauvinist and having his fate in the hands of women judges, and women of color at that, is sure to irritate him no end. Former speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, with whom he has had many run-ins, added her comments, undoubtedly meant to annoy him.

“I wasn’t in the courtroom of course but when I saw his coming out of his car and this or that, I saw a scared puppy,” Pelosi told MSNBC.

“He looked very, very, very concerned about the fate. I didn’t see any bravado or confidence or anything like that. He knows the truth that he lost the election and now he’s got to face the music.”

‘Scared puppy’. Ouch. She really knows how to get under his skin.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … having his fate in the hands of women judges, and women of color at that …

    And immigrantwomen judges of color -- hoo-boy.

    Surely Trump™ already fantasizes both of them in cells, in gruesome detail. How long until he verbalizes that, online or in court?

  2. birgerjohansson says

    The MAGA followers will spot an obvious miscarriage of justice right there. She was *randomly* selected, instead of picked from the numbers of judges appointed by Trump.
    It cannot get more unfair than this!

    This detail alone will give Fox News material for weeks.

  3. Jazzlet says

    Well despite the magistrate judge warning him specifically about witness, jury etc intimidation he has already posted something about him coming after anyone who comes after him, (makes him sound like a gangster); my guess is going for the judges will take a little longer, as he does have some small sense of self-preservation. On the other hand he has also asked the Supreme Court to interfere so who knows?

  4. sonofrojblake says

    SSAT, who apparently likes to be called ‘Mr. President”.

    In fairness, along with the Secret Service protection, traditionally the “Mr. President” title does stay with you for life once you’ve had it, and however much people don’t like it, Trump has had it and is still entitled to it as far as I know. People still address Obama, Bush and Clinton that way and nobody ridicules them for it.

    he has already posted something about him coming after anyone who comes after him, (makes him sound like a gangster)

    Not really. It makes him sound like a posturing loser who’s seen some gangster movies. If he really does want to sound like an actual gangster, he’ll shut the fuck up and listen to his lawyers. Don’t hold your breath.

    On the flipside, here’s a thing: speculation is rife that he’s in the advanced stages of dementia, or has some other brain injury-type excuse for simply not being able to help himself. Certainly when he’s out in public, or sitting on the shitter sending whatever the equivalent of a tweet is on his own private network, it does seem like he’s actually physically incapable of self-control.

    However: when forced to sit in a courtroom and wait for the judge to arrive 15 minutes late (a lovely detail, don’t you think?), he has demonstrated that he absolutely CAN control himself and shut the fuck up. Don’t forget this the next time someone makes the excuse for him that he’s cognitively impaired, suffering from dementia, or similar -- he absolutely CAN help himself. He just doesn’t.

  5. Matt G says

    Wasn’t there an actual gangster who wouldn’t do business with SSAT because he didn’t keep his promises? No honor among thieves?

  6. says

    Matt G @7: There’s a Bob Dylan lyric which is highly apropos: “To live outside the law, you must be honest.” Not real sure that honor has anything to do with it; any actual gangster who recognizes that the Angry Cheeto is a lying, cheating fuckwad is gonna “nope” on away from any deal with him.

  7. Ridana says

    5) sonofrojblake wrote:

    …traditionally the “Mr. President” title does stay with you for life once you’ve had it, and however much people don’t like it, Trump has had it and is still entitled to it as far as I know.

    Not entitled to it, though in person people will still address former Presidents so. Emily Post sez:

    When addressing a former President of the United States in a formal setting, the correct form is “Mr. LastName.” (“President LastName” or “Mr. President” are terms reserved for the current head of state.) This is true for other ex-officials, as well. When talking about the person to a third party, on the other hand, it’s appropriate to say, “former President LastName.” This holds for introductions, as well: A current state governor is introduced as “Governor Tom Smith,” while you’d introduce an ex-governor as “former Governor Jim Bell.”
    Now, let’s look a little closer. In an informal setting (such as a private lunch), it’s acceptable to use the title the ex-official held. Here, you could refer to former President Jimmy Carter as either “President Carter” or “Mr. Carter.” In reality, many people ignore this convention and refer to former Presidents as “President Last Name” when they are in settings where nearly everyone would afford them the honor of the title. Technically, this is still incorrect but there are enough former Presidents allowing this that it has become a somewhat common mistake.

    (emphasis added)
    Miss Manners agrees:

    …the rule is that titles pertaining to an office that only one person occupies at a time are not used after retirement. A former president can use a previously-held, non-unique title, as the first one did by reverting to Gen. Washington in retirement, or the plain citizen’s title of “Mr.” The third president preferred to be known as Mr. Jefferson rather than Gov. Jefferson. Thus, the gentleman your son met would be addressed as Gov. Carter or Mr. Carter.

    Given how the “originalist” right fetishizes the Foundering Fathers, you’d think they’d be keen to follow their example (except for the idiots who think PAB really is still the President).

  8. Holms says

    “I wasn’t in the courtroom of course but when I saw his coming out of his car and this or that, I saw a scared puppy,”

    No. I know the comment is quite likely to irritate the fool, but I must stand up for puppies and point out that the comment is actually a compliment. Puppies are cute, and a scared puppy would prompt most people to lavish it with cuddles and cooing noises. A scared Trump on the other hand invites jeering, laughter, and rotten vegetables.

  9. Mano Singham says

    I tend to think less of someone who feels the need to be addressed by their titles. It seems show a sense of self-importance combined with insecurity.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    I tend to think less of someone who feels the need to be addressed by their titles. It seems show a sense of self-importance combined with insecurity.

    It depends on the context. Example: most people I know with PhDs are fine with “Mr.” or “Mrs.”… until they think the person they’re dealing with is deliberately disrespecting them or messing them about. In particular, I’ve a friend who has had occasion at least three times to respond to the question “is it Miss, or Missus?” with “It’s Doctor.” I have no problem with snapping back like that if someone’s intent or action is to belittle.

    And let’s be honest, whether or not you think it’s justified the judges intent in persistently addressing Trump as “Mr.” is absolutely to belittle. I’m completely on board with it, but let’s not pretend it’s something other than what it is.

    Also, this sort of exchange led to what I think is my favourite joke in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius is addressing Doctor Stephen Strange, but doesn’t know who he is…
    “Mister Doctor…?”
    “It’s ‘Strange’!”.
    “Maybe. Who am I to judge?”.

  11. Holms says

    That’s basically a rehash of every time someone new meets the Doctor of Doctor Who; I preferred the gag about their goofy-as-hell names when Spiderman meets Strange-
    “I’m peter by the way.”
    “Doctor Strange.”
    “Oh, you’re using your made up names. Um, I’m Spiderman then.”

  12. Tethys says

    Addressing the defendant by his name is standard procedure. The Judge is signaling that she will not tolerate any egotistical grandiosity in her courtroom, nor will she be addressing him with undue deference by using his former title in the proceedings. She also denied their motion to move the next proceedings to Thursday rather than Monday. Treating the defendant like any other defendant is exactly what the court is supposed to do.

    The President is Joe Biden.

  13. says

    In my job the only time I’ve ever been corrected in addressing someone (which we usually do by first name) was by an MD. “It’s Dr. Smith.” Oh, sorry m’lord.

    But then, way back in my early working days I had a job at a self-serve gas bar and we had a doctor who always insisted we fill her pump for her. There were stations she could go to that still had full service, but nope. Maybe that’s why doctors are known for their crappy handwriting. It’s to cover up their inability to read.

  14. sonofrojblake says

    Oh, sorry m’lord.

    They worked for that title and they deserve it. That chip on your shoulder is showing.

    a self-serve gas bar … insisted we fill her pump for her

    The person most egregiously at fault there was your boss, for not allowing requiring you to indicate the “self-service” sign, and allow the customer to leave if they’re not satisfied.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *