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Donald Trump could drag the courts down with him

The latest indictment could be the most serious yet. Credit: Getty

August 2, 2023 - 1:00pm

Special counsel Jack Smith has unloaded another set of legal charges against former president Donald Trump. While earlier efforts focused on legal issues related to the handling of classified documents after Trump left the Oval Office, this latest indictment instead revolves around his months-long campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election. 

The former president is accused of participating in three serious plots: “conspiracy to defraud the United States by using dishonesty, fraud, and deceit” to interfere with the counting of the results of a presidential election; conspiracy to disrupt the congressional proceedings of 6th January 2021 (when the electoral votes are counted); and a “conspiracy against the right to vote and to have one’s vote counted”.

At the core of this indictment is a catalogue of Trump’s various efforts to convince state officials to intervene in the counting of votes for president in the months after election day in November 2020. It also focuses on the campaign to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with the counting of the electoral votes on 6th January. Central to Smith’s indictment is the assertion that Trump supposedly did not truly believe his own claims about vote fraud.

The serious legal consequences of a conviction on these charges have set press coverage to boil. For instance, Megyn Kelly agreed that there was a significant possibility that Trump could be convicted on this indictment, as well as potentially sentenced to imprisonment prior to the November 2024 presidential election.

Smith’s indictment may also feed into the legal-political escalatory spiral of contemporary American politics. Indeed the charges on Trump for fraud and obstruction of federal proceedings rely upon heavily contested legal assumptions. More, the Special Counsel has pushed the legal envelope in the past: his prosecution of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican, was eventually unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court.

From the moment he descended the golden escalator in the summer of 2015, Trump conjured a politics of crisis, a state of play his fiercest opponents have themselves often invoked. In justifying his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, the former president often cited the efforts of his enemies to delegitimise the results of the 2016 vote. Now Trump’s critics use his 2020 schemes as a justification for a novel legal campaign against prominent political opponents of the sitting president.

However, emergency politics have a cost when extended over the long term. Ferocious partisan combat places increased pressures on each of the branches of government, which in turn can threaten the perception of their legitimacy. Consider this hypothetical: if Trump were to become the Republican nominee and be convicted on these charges before the election, he would almost certainly appeal. 

Under those circumstances, it would be up to the courts to determine whether the main challenger to the sitting president should be imprisoned during an election on charges brought by appointees of said president. Whatever decision the courts make could ignite a fiery backlash, and the result of any eventual appeal would eventually go up to the Supreme Court. Trump’s legal problems involve not only the presidency, but also the judicial branch.

Of course, this hypothetical is not set in stone. Trump may not be the Republican nominee. The trial may not occur before the election. The jury may deadlock or find him not guilty. But it reveals how Trump’s many controversies can spill over, altering the political system as a whole.


Fred Bauer is a writer from New England.

fredbauerblog

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Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
11 months ago

Jack Smith’s indictment amounts to the legal equivalent of the old, catch-all Soviet charge of being “an enemy of the State”. It’s an all-purpose distortion based on nothing but political animus. There’s no way these charges can be made to stick in a court of law. And I say that as no fan of Donald Trump. We are a nation of laws, not of opinions or prejudices. Biden’s DOJ is making a mockery of our system of justice.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
11 months ago

Jack Smith’s indictment amounts to the legal equivalent of the old, catch-all Soviet charge of being “an enemy of the State”. It’s an all-purpose distortion based on nothing but political animus. There’s no way these charges can be made to stick in a court of law. And I say that as no fan of Donald Trump. We are a nation of laws, not of opinions or prejudices. Biden’s DOJ is making a mockery of our system of justice.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
11 months ago

Deeply deeply troubling. Pity America with two such appalling unfit leaders both intent on extending the nightmare. They are both black holes, ripping and tearing at the fundamental structures of government, eroding legitimacy yes. Political lawfare and judicial overreach again is the main culprit, as it is here.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
11 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As one of those pitiable Americans, I will say that Biden and Trump are not at all alike. Biden is a corrupt and evil man; a stain on the presidency. Trump is disliked by the elites, but in truth he was a good president, and during his term the nation prospered.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

“Evil” – spare us your simple-minded biblical drivel.
Have you even read the indictment? Trump, and his top cabal knew and admitted in private that there had been no “election steal”. Yet he still ran with that story in public.
If you think that is the behaviour of a “good” President, you need help.
https://ayenaw.com/2023/08/02/the-big-one/

Chipoko
Chipoko
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I you aspire to be taken seriously, avoid bilious, intemperate ad hominem attacks.

Chipoko
Chipoko
11 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I you aspire to be taken seriously, avoid bilious, intemperate ad hominem attacks.

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
11 months ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

What did Trump ever do for ordinary, working class Americans? Stark contrast to what he did for the super wealthy.
I’ve lived here for 17 years and the truth is Republicans do nothing that benefits the masses and they care nothing for the environment.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

Trump created opportunity zones for minority communities all over the country and ended corrupt trade deals with China in order to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States. Under Trump, minority employment was at an all-time high, the US was energy independent and a net exporter, gas prices and food costs were low – just to name a few benefits to “ordinary Americans”. Explain what he did for the super wealthy, like those who objected to his border wall because they like and get rich from hiring cheap labor.
All of that was immediately undone by whoever is running this country now.
Oh, and the Environmental Protection Agency was created by Republican Richard Nixon.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

For starters- Blacks and the lower tiers of the income scale experienced the lowest unemployment rate since WW2 under Trump.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Please don’t let those inconvenient facts get in the way of a good bout of TDS. Apparently, Rosemary prefers to keep the poor as permanent wards of the State.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

And let’s not forget, these are the same people who wanted to keep the lockdowns going indefinitely and are trying to bring them back, this time because of ‘global boiling’.

Last edited 11 months ago by Studio Largo
Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

And let’s not forget, these are the same people who wanted to keep the lockdowns going indefinitely and are trying to bring them back, this time because of ‘global boiling’.

Last edited 11 months ago by Studio Largo
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Please don’t let those inconvenient facts get in the way of a good bout of TDS. Apparently, Rosemary prefers to keep the poor as permanent wards of the State.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

Fair enough but that doesn’t make the Democrats the good guys. For their part, they’re creating a neo Soviet authoritarian nanny state.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

Trump created opportunity zones for minority communities all over the country and ended corrupt trade deals with China in order to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States. Under Trump, minority employment was at an all-time high, the US was energy independent and a net exporter, gas prices and food costs were low – just to name a few benefits to “ordinary Americans”. Explain what he did for the super wealthy, like those who objected to his border wall because they like and get rich from hiring cheap labor.
All of that was immediately undone by whoever is running this country now.
Oh, and the Environmental Protection Agency was created by Republican Richard Nixon.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

For starters- Blacks and the lower tiers of the income scale experienced the lowest unemployment rate since WW2 under Trump.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

Fair enough but that doesn’t make the Democrats the good guys. For their part, they’re creating a neo Soviet authoritarian nanny state.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 months ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

“Evil” – spare us your simple-minded biblical drivel.
Have you even read the indictment? Trump, and his top cabal knew and admitted in private that there had been no “election steal”. Yet he still ran with that story in public.
If you think that is the behaviour of a “good” President, you need help.
https://ayenaw.com/2023/08/02/the-big-one/

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
11 months ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

What did Trump ever do for ordinary, working class Americans? Stark contrast to what he did for the super wealthy.
I’ve lived here for 17 years and the truth is Republicans do nothing that benefits the masses and they care nothing for the environment.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Donald Trump could drag the courts down with him
Form what I have seen, if he did so h would be doing his country a service

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

No joke. Progressive judges and prosecutors are doing a fine job tearing the Constitution apart. Thank God for the current Supreme Court.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

No joke. Progressive judges and prosecutors are doing a fine job tearing the Constitution apart. Thank God for the current Supreme Court.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
11 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

As one of those pitiable Americans, I will say that Biden and Trump are not at all alike. Biden is a corrupt and evil man; a stain on the presidency. Trump is disliked by the elites, but in truth he was a good president, and during his term the nation prospered.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Donald Trump could drag the courts down with him
Form what I have seen, if he did so h would be doing his country a service

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
11 months ago

Deeply deeply troubling. Pity America with two such appalling unfit leaders both intent on extending the nightmare. They are both black holes, ripping and tearing at the fundamental structures of government, eroding legitimacy yes. Political lawfare and judicial overreach again is the main culprit, as it is here.

R Wright
R Wright
11 months ago

Anyone else remember how Trump was supposed to have been a puppet of the Russians, and that dominated the news for like 3 years?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yes. All confirmed by the Mueller report.
What’s your question, sonny?

L Walker
L Walker
11 months ago

The Mueller report confirmed no such thing. What are you smoking? Weren’t going for sarcasm, were you?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago
Reply to  L Walker

This guy’s just a troll. Probably some fat 19-year-old who can’t even summon the stones to attend a comic con.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago
Reply to  L Walker

This guy’s just a troll. Probably some fat 19-year-old who can’t even summon the stones to attend a comic con.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

Read much?

L Walker
L Walker
11 months ago

The Mueller report confirmed no such thing. What are you smoking? Weren’t going for sarcasm, were you?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

Read much?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Thanks to Hillary & Obama and their cabal.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yes. All confirmed by the Mueller report.
What’s your question, sonny?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

Thanks to Hillary & Obama and their cabal.

R Wright
R Wright
11 months ago

Anyone else remember how Trump was supposed to have been a puppet of the Russians, and that dominated the news for like 3 years?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

The optics of this do not look good. This comes so soon after a judge threw out a plea deal for Hunter Biden with an immunity clause that certainly looks questionable. Millions of MAGA people will be losing their minds today.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

They lost their minds a long time ago

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

They lost their minds a long time ago

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 months ago

The optics of this do not look good. This comes so soon after a judge threw out a plea deal for Hunter Biden with an immunity clause that certainly looks questionable. Millions of MAGA people will be losing their minds today.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

Well, that’s that, then. Donald Trump was always going to be the Republican nominee, and now he is almost certainly going to be President again. That was always highly likely against Joe Biden, whose corruption is the only sign that he is still alive.

The Republican primary electorate used to be as hawkish domestically as it was internationally. Yet now, on both counts, it belongs to Trump. We are talking largely about the same individuals who voted three times for George W. Bush, in the 2000 primaries, at the 2000 election, and at the 2004 election. A few have done it four times, since there were a few contested primaries in 2004. Bush himself openly voted for Biden in 2020, and probably voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Why are you happy to be in his company?

A Trump Presidency was no worse than the Biden one, nor would it be. Trump just happens to be in very bad taste. But so is Biden, who is a fascinating throwback. First sworn in as a United States Senator in 1973, he sincerely cannot see any problem with the President’s use of the Department of Justice to protect his relatives and to persecute his enemies. To him, that is not even a perk of the job. That is the job.

The DOJ is a federal executive department, so the case of Hunter Biden is the unitary executive theory in action. But as with its kinsman, the Royal Prerogative, the trick is to get our hands on it. The always problematic Robert F. Kennedy Jr is a fierce supporter of this and this. Although there are also reservations about him, the best candidate, by far, is Cornel West. A vote to keep some crook in the Oval Office until he was 86 would be nothing but a self-indulgent spoiler for West. As would be a vote to send Trump back to that Office, when another way was available to dismantle the war machine.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
11 months ago

Well, that’s that, then. Donald Trump was always going to be the Republican nominee, and now he is almost certainly going to be President again. That was always highly likely against Joe Biden, whose corruption is the only sign that he is still alive.

The Republican primary electorate used to be as hawkish domestically as it was internationally. Yet now, on both counts, it belongs to Trump. We are talking largely about the same individuals who voted three times for George W. Bush, in the 2000 primaries, at the 2000 election, and at the 2004 election. A few have done it four times, since there were a few contested primaries in 2004. Bush himself openly voted for Biden in 2020, and probably voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Why are you happy to be in his company?

A Trump Presidency was no worse than the Biden one, nor would it be. Trump just happens to be in very bad taste. But so is Biden, who is a fascinating throwback. First sworn in as a United States Senator in 1973, he sincerely cannot see any problem with the President’s use of the Department of Justice to protect his relatives and to persecute his enemies. To him, that is not even a perk of the job. That is the job.

The DOJ is a federal executive department, so the case of Hunter Biden is the unitary executive theory in action. But as with its kinsman, the Royal Prerogative, the trick is to get our hands on it. The always problematic Robert F. Kennedy Jr is a fierce supporter of this and this. Although there are also reservations about him, the best candidate, by far, is Cornel West. A vote to keep some crook in the Oval Office until he was 86 would be nothing but a self-indulgent spoiler for West. As would be a vote to send Trump back to that Office, when another way was available to dismantle the war machine.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
11 months ago

What happened to Alexey Navalny is what is happening to Trump.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
11 months ago

What happened to Alexey Navalny is what is happening to Trump.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
11 months ago

Presumably the most interesting outcome would be if he goes to prison, then wins the presidency anyway, pardons himself and promptly starts prosecuting the Bidens and/or the DoJ officials prosecuting him. Popcorn time, in a bad way.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
11 months ago

Presumably the most interesting outcome would be if he goes to prison, then wins the presidency anyway, pardons himself and promptly starts prosecuting the Bidens and/or the DoJ officials prosecuting him. Popcorn time, in a bad way.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

Donald Trump could drag the courts down with him
Form what I have seen, if he did so h would be doing his country a service

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

Donald Trump could drag the courts down with him
Form what I have seen, if he did so h would be doing his country a service

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

I don’t want to take sides but opinions are so divided on Trump that I have no idea what to think.
His Presidency doesn’t seem to have been a disaster. When he lost the 2020 election he kicked up a stink (Clinton sulked but, was it a bit like not shaking hands when someone beats you at tennis). He seems to have tried to interfere.He was impeached twice but was not convicted (but that would have been difficult with the congress). He was investigated about collusion with the Russians but no evidence against him was found.He’s being investigated for having official papers at his home like Biden.He’s often quite nasty to people he doesn’t like.And, yet, loads of working class Americans admire him.
Biden, on the other hand seems pretty awful too.
Doddery. No joke, seriously not firing on all cylinders.Corrupt. There seems to be primae face evidence that his son arranged for well paid position for which he was totally unqualified and Biden was in on it.Censors people. The laptop story! They had it supressed.Again, it seems that his Presidency has not been a disaster.So, one of the alternatives, de Santis, is unlikely to winning because he’s not charimatic despite having run a state government very effectively. Ramaswamy, run a big business succesfully, seems alright
No democrats, apart from RFK are standing. He seems a bit maverick but maybe honest?
I’m so confused

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

Clinton did more than sulk. She wrote a book about it and was all over the media claiming the election was stolen from her.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

Clinton did more than sulk. She wrote a book about it and was all over the media claiming the election was stolen from her.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

I don’t want to take sides but opinions are so divided on Trump that I have no idea what to think.
His Presidency doesn’t seem to have been a disaster. When he lost the 2020 election he kicked up a stink (Clinton sulked but, was it a bit like not shaking hands when someone beats you at tennis). He seems to have tried to interfere.He was impeached twice but was not convicted (but that would have been difficult with the congress). He was investigated about collusion with the Russians but no evidence against him was found.He’s being investigated for having official papers at his home like Biden.He’s often quite nasty to people he doesn’t like.And, yet, loads of working class Americans admire him.
Biden, on the other hand seems pretty awful too.
Doddery. No joke, seriously not firing on all cylinders.Corrupt. There seems to be primae face evidence that his son arranged for well paid position for which he was totally unqualified and Biden was in on it.Censors people. The laptop story! They had it supressed.Again, it seems that his Presidency has not been a disaster.So, one of the alternatives, de Santis, is unlikely to winning because he’s not charimatic despite having run a state government very effectively. Ramaswamy, run a big business succesfully, seems alright
No democrats, apart from RFK are standing. He seems a bit maverick but maybe honest?
I’m so confused

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
11 months ago

A criminal psychopathic narcissist v the demented head of an international crime family… what could possibly go wrong?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
11 months ago

A criminal psychopathic narcissist v the demented head of an international crime family… what could possibly go wrong?

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
11 months ago

I think he could also drag the Republican party down with him. Look at the Senate, House and Governor races in 2021 and 2022. Trump’s promotion of odd ball candidates cost the Republican’s control of the Senate and some Governors’ mansions. He sucked a lot of donations and did not share the wealth with Republican candidates. Much of his current campaign fund raising goes towards payment of legal bills (which I think he should pay as these bills relate to his conduct and not the current campaign).
Going into 2024 he will force candidates to declare their support of his allegations of 2020. The 2024 race will be one of the oddest in American history with one candidate rotating between campaign and court appearances and the other safely back in his Delaware basement cocooned by the mainstream press and the Justice Department.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
11 months ago

I think he could also drag the Republican party down with him. Look at the Senate, House and Governor races in 2021 and 2022. Trump’s promotion of odd ball candidates cost the Republican’s control of the Senate and some Governors’ mansions. He sucked a lot of donations and did not share the wealth with Republican candidates. Much of his current campaign fund raising goes towards payment of legal bills (which I think he should pay as these bills relate to his conduct and not the current campaign).
Going into 2024 he will force candidates to declare their support of his allegations of 2020. The 2024 race will be one of the oddest in American history with one candidate rotating between campaign and court appearances and the other safely back in his Delaware basement cocooned by the mainstream press and the Justice Department.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

In one corner we have the Democrats, who have a finally honed expertise in shooting themselves in the foot.
In the other corner we have Trump who thrives on hostility and likes nothing more than chaos.
Round one starts about twelve months from now. Everything before then is just circus.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
11 months ago

In one corner we have the Democrats, who have a finally honed expertise in shooting themselves in the foot.
In the other corner we have Trump who thrives on hostility and likes nothing more than chaos.
Round one starts about twelve months from now. Everything before then is just circus.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago

MAGA is a cult and Trump is an infallible god to the cultists. To them he is completely above the law. Insane.
On a related note, its no great surprise that conservatives are susceptible to the cult of personality. What is truly amazing is that you have chosen a clown like Donald Trump to be your cult leader. Remarkable.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

Why do you need to insult people who just have a different opinion to you?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Statements of fact, old boy

L Walker
L Walker
11 months ago

Not bloody likely, old boy.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

Jim Biden, is that you? Really?

harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago

Where are the facts, old boy?

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

Do tell us, old boy.

L Walker
L Walker
11 months ago

Not bloody likely, old boy.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
11 months ago

Jim Biden, is that you? Really?

harry storm
harry storm
11 months ago

Where are the facts, old boy?

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

Do tell us, old boy.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Statements of fact, old boy

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
11 months ago

The cults that need to be investigated are CRT, BLM, transgenderism, the homeless industry, apocalyptic environmentalism … all of them concocted by Champagne Socialists.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
11 months ago

The facts indicate that it is the Left that’s far more likely than the Right to invent and join self-destructive cults. Consider the following: CRT, BLM, Transgenderism, Veganism, Climate Apocalypticism, Heaven’s Gate, Jim Jones — all invented and eagerly followed by Champagne Socialists.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

You don’t have to be a Trump supporter or even a Republican to see this.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

You don’t have to be a Trump supporter or even a Republican to see this.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

None of which makes acceptable the Democrat’s ongoing war on free speech and free will.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

By the way, what exactly is a Champagne Socialist? Is this related to Luxury Communism?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

Why do you need to insult people who just have a different opinion to you?

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
11 months ago

The cults that need to be investigated are CRT, BLM, transgenderism, the homeless industry, apocalyptic environmentalism … all of them concocted by Champagne Socialists.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
11 months ago

The facts indicate that it is the Left that’s far more likely than the Right to invent and join self-destructive cults. Consider the following: CRT, BLM, Transgenderism, Veganism, Climate Apocalypticism, Heaven’s Gate, Jim Jones — all invented and eagerly followed by Champagne Socialists.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

None of which makes acceptable the Democrat’s ongoing war on free speech and free will.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
11 months ago

By the way, what exactly is a Champagne Socialist? Is this related to Luxury Communism?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
11 months ago

MAGA is a cult and Trump is an infallible god to the cultists. To them he is completely above the law. Insane.
On a related note, its no great surprise that conservatives are susceptible to the cult of personality. What is truly amazing is that you have chosen a clown like Donald Trump to be your cult leader. Remarkable.