Trump’s tactics for vengeance if he becomes president again are now clear

The former president’s revenge fantasies just got way more specific

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Saturday 08 June 2024 08:12 BST
Trump claims 'revenge can be justified' in Dr Phil interview

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The fallout from Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 charges turned out to be manifold, but one of the main takeaways was it allowed for Republicans to play out their revenge fantasies.

On Thursday, Trump told television psychologist Dr Phil in an interview that “sometimes revenge can be justified.” During the same show, the former president and the television host both pleaded for the investigations into Trump to stop.

In fairness, most Republican actions — particularly in the House of Representatives and on the state level — could be interpreted as an act of revenge these days. That’s because most of them feel Trump was wronged by the “Deep State” and Democrats, and that the multiple investigations and two impeachments are somehow proof of that.

But Trump has not been shy about his very personal desire for revenge. Indeed, he’s said that: “I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.” Republicans’ failed impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden can best be understood through the lens of retribution since the GOP has mostly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing.

Now that the de facto head of the Republican Party has notched a criminal conviction, Republicans have removed even the pretense that they will focus on doing anything except exacting vengeance.

Trump largely lost the 2020 election on the back of his poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. In turn, Republicans have sought to find another culprit for the virus raging across the country in 2020.

That would explain why Republicans’ hearing on Monday, where they brought Anthony Fauci to testify — after he had already testified behind closed doors — after accusing him of funding research that led to the Covid outbreak. They also claimed that he tried to suppress information about the virus.

It also would explain Marjorie Taylor Greene’s refusal to acknowledge Fauci as a doctor while she held up pictures of beagles who were experimented on by the National Institutes of Health and said, “We should be writing a criminal referral because you should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.”

Of course, Greene’s influence has significantly diminished ever since she failed to eject House Speaker Mike Johnson. But she still speaks for a large swath of Republican voters and, should Trump win, will likely be one of the main people holding the House GOP conference’s feet to the fire to make sure they do what the president wants.

The same could be said with the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday. Jim Jordan, who played a key role in trying to help Trump’s scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, leads that committee. The hearing was ostensibly meant to “examine how the [Department of Justice] has become politicized and weaponized.”

Of course, the Justice Department had nothing to do with the case as Alvin Bragg, a district attorney elected in New York City, was the one who brought it. Nonetheless, during that hearing, Representative Matt Gaetz — Trump’s loudest apologist in the House — engaged in a heated back-and-forth with Garland. He mainly asked questions about Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter, who works for a digital firm aligned with Democrats — a common attack Trump made on the judge presiding over his case throughout his trial.

While Merchan’s daughter did work for the firm, the idea there was a mass conspiracy against the former president orchestrated by various branches is not substantiated by any evidence.

But that doesn’t matter. What matters more is that House Republicans are seen as acting in total fealty to Trump and that Trump sees Congress — and all other branches of government, for that matter — as in total service to him.

Even the speaker’s decision to nominate both Representatives Ronny Jackson of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania to be on the House Intelligence Committee comes back to this. Both men are seen as having been slighted in service of Trump: Trump was forced to rescind nomination for Jackson, the former White House physician, to be secretary of Veterans Affairs after reports that Jackson was repeatedly drunk on the job.

Similarly, Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI, and the January 6 Committee alleged that he was involved in the scheme to overturn the election. Now Perry will be on the committee that has jurisdiction over the FBI. That move can only be interpreted as Johnson needling the agency that executed a search warrant on Trump and led to one of his two federal indictments.

All of this serves a preview of what Trump will value above all else, should he reassume the White House. While he will certainly attempt to enact conservative policies that Mike Johnson’s Republican conference would enact, vengeance will be the main driver of this second term. Not only that, but he will have the full support of Republicans in Washington and elsewhere as he does it.

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