MAGA Martyrdom Machine Portrays Felon Trump as Victim, Vows Revenge

Former President Donald Trump, top Republican officials, MAGA movement leaders, and dominionist religious-right figures, all reacted badly to Trump’s May 30 conviction on 34 felony counts. A jury of citizens found that he repeatedly broke the law while trying to prevent embarrassing information about his sexual dalliance with a porn star from hurting his 2016 presidential campaign.

Even before the verdict, Trump and his allies had denounced the trial as rigged, smeared the judge, and portrayed Trump as the victim of political persecution. When the jury’s verdicts were announced Thursday afternoon, the MAGA Republican martyrdom machinery went into full swing. Right-wing figures attacked the judge, jury, prosecutors, and President Biden, who they accused of masterminding the prosecution. Trump cultist Joey Mannarino accused them all of committing treason before taking to Twitter to have a vulgar meltdown.

Trump himself denounced the trial as “rigged.” In a series of text messages tied to fundraising asks, Trump called himself a “political prisoner” and declared, “JUSTICE IS DEAD IN AMERICA! Our country has FALLEN!” Trump called on his supporters to mobilize “IMMEDIATE PUSHBACK SO MASSIVE IT WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY!” and added, “WE MUST MAKE JOE BIDEN REGRET EVER COMING AFTER US!”

Trump, his son Don Jr., and daughter-in-law Lara, all sent fundraising emails. In one of them, Trump said the trial was a “sick & twisted” effort to turn his supporters against him. “NOW IT’S TIME FOR ME & YOU TO SHOVE IT BACK IN THEIR CORRUPT FACES!” he ranted. Trump called the day of his convictions the “darkest day in American history!” Junior repeated the claim that his dad is a “political prisoner” and called America “a third-world shithole.” Lara called Trump’s conviction an “assault on America” and accused Democrats of “using a SHAM TRIAL to silence, imprison, and ERASE PRESIDENT TRUMP FROM HISTORY!” Right-wing media reported that the flood of contributions from Trump supporters overwhelmed his fundraising site.

Trump’s capture and corruption of the Republican Party is on full display. When the guilty verdicts were announced, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson declared, “Today is a shameful day in American history.” Johnson claimed the trial was “evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents”—some high-level gaslighting considering that is actually what Trump has been promising to do if he gets back into power. The Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell fumed that the criminal charges “never should have been brought in the first place.”

Right-wing Trump supporters went ballistic. Culture warrior Matt Walsh railed that he didn’t want to hear statements from Republicans condemning the verdict. “The only thing I want to hear from these people is which Democrats they will have arrested,” he posted on social media. “Don’t tell us that you’re sad about the verdict. We don’t give a shit about your feelings. We want to see corrupt Democrats frog marched on camera in handcuffs. If you won’t do that, then shut up.”

Eric Metaxas declared that the guilty verdict was “like a lynching” while fellow right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk proclaimed that “they just executed a legal assassination.” Far-right activist Ali Alexander claimed that “Today is January 6th for the entire nation,” and former Trump administration official William Wolfe welcomed everyone “to the United Soviet States of America.”

Mark Meckler, who heads the Convention of States movement to do a right-wing rewrite of the U.S. Constitution, demanded that officials in “deep red” parts of the country “bring immediate prosecutions of every Dem official they can tag with even the most spurious charges.” Meckler was so outraged that he even did an emergency livestream to demand that every district attorney in every conservative county in every red state bring “the most brutal changes we can possibly bring” against every Democrat they can.

Radio host Todd Starnes asserted that “There MUST be payback. The judge and the district attorney should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The House must immediately defund the Justice Department. Justice must be served.” Religious-right activist Carol Swain lamented that “for the first time in my life, I am ashamed of my nation.”

Trump’s religious-right backers also rallied around him. “Jesus was a convicted felon. Convicted by political enemies,” declared dominionist Mario Murillo. Like many other far-right figures, Murillo predicted that the convictions would strengthen Trump by energizing his outraged supporters. He invoked the Japanese admiral who planned the World War II attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, who wrote afterward in his diary, “I fear all we have done is to awake a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

“Apostle” Dutch Sheets, a leading figure in the New Apostolic Reformation, called on God to “strengthen President Trump” because “he is being martyred politically.”

Speaking of terrible resolve, far-right pastor Joshua Feuerstein asked, “At what point do we take up arms?” Never one to be outdone, far-right broadcaster Stew Peters, who has a record of calling for political violence, did so again, tweeting, “Our judicial system has been weaponized against the American people,” adding, “We are left with NO other option but to take matters into our own hands,” a statement he followed with an emoji of crossed swords. In case Peters wasn’t clear enough, he followed that up with a tweet that simply said, “It’s time” and featured a photo of a noose.

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