On the evening before his arraignment on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, Donald Trump took a break from raging at district attorney Alvin Bragg to lash out at Jack Smith, the special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department to review his contributions to Jan. 6. Smith, Trump wrote on Truth Social, was a “Radical Left Lunatic” and “totally biased Thug” with a “Trump hating wife and family” who should investigate Joe Biden instead.
At a strategic level, Trump’s fixation on Smith might reflect the reality that the former president faces greater legal jeopardy from investigations by the D.O.J., into election meddling and mishandling classified materials, and by the Fulton County D.A., who is investigating Trump’s effort to “find” more votes in Georgia, than he does from Bragg’s tawdry, years-old, arguably dubious campaign-finance and hush-money case. But it also validates a creeping realization in some corners of the G.O.P. that Trump’s 2024 campaign, now anchored by his arrest and pending fights with federal prosecutors, has become a political jihad akin to the events of Jan. 6.
Trump had already previewed his strategy last week, when he opened a rally in Waco, of all places, by playing Justice for All, a single performed by a choir of men imprisoned for their participation in the Capitol riot. Top Republican lawmakers criticized him for that stunt. But in the days since, as Trump was indicted and boarded his plane in Palm Beach to fly north for his arraignment, the decision to align himself with these prisoners appears to be part of a more calculated primary campaign strategy that reframes Jan. 6 from a day of shame to a seminal moment for his movement. “They have now built this mythology around the people from January 6, not that they were a bunch of assholes trying to overrun the Capitol, but they were valued freedom fighters protecting democracy from the pedophiles,” Rick Wilson, a G.O.P. consultant and co-founder of the anti-MAGA Lincoln Project, told me. “And that’s a very top-of-mind thing.”