He’s back. On the morning of November 16 Donald Trump formally announced he’ll be a candidate for the US Presidency in 2024. The announcement was made at his glitzy Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, with hundreds of his excited fans present.
Yes, the guy has fans, not mere supporters. Those emotional right-wing hustlers are what keep Trump going, and make him feared by other Republican presidential aspirants.
Trump has never changed. He started off that day with derisive taunts at his successor President Joe Biden. "Now we have a president who falls asleep at global conferences," jeered Trump. At that moment Biden was attending the G20 conference in Bali, Indonesia. Trump insinuated Biden had missed a dinner with his G20 partners (untrue).
“They are still looking for him,” he quipped. Trump again mocked Biden when he said that at the earlier climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Biden called Egypt by another name (again, untrue. The President only fumbled on his teleprompter).
“America had been driven into decline by Biden and the radical left lunatics,” Trump sneered. He vowed to make the country “great and glorious again”. Chaotic would be my guess.
Trump is meeting noticeably less euphoria from voters and the media than when he run for the White House the first time in 2016. He's now seen as jaded and too toxic. In the recently concluded Congressional mid-term elections, right-wing Republican candidates who Trump went out of his way to endorse fared poorly. They were either beaten by Democrats or moderate Republicans.
Also, major campaign donors like the Blackstone Corporation have distanced themselves from him. Even Trump's favourite daughter, Ivanka, has pleaded absence from her dad’s campaign this time round, saying she wants “to concentrate on her children and family”.
Trump’s early announcement is seen as a way to gain advantage and to undercut would-be Republican rivals.
Those Republicans who didn’t take his line when campaigning in the mid-term elections were savaged brutally by him. He dismissed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a looming opponent in the 2024 Republican primaries, as “average”. Of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, another critic, Trump chuckled that his name sounded Chinese.
What will hobble Trump most is because he's sinking in criminal and civil cases, which he implausibly waves away as “witch hunts”. A Congressional select committee has been investigating Trump over the violent January 6, 2021 attack by a pro-Trump mob at the Capitol, the Congressional premises in Washington DC. The rioters who Trump is deemed to have incited wanted to stop the official certification of Biden as the next President. The committee is due to release its report by the end of this year. It's expected to be damning against Trump. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has prosecuted hundreds over the Capitol attack.
Possible bank fraud
In the state of Georgia, Trump faces another investigation over his apparent efforts to overturn the valid 2020 election results in that state. The DoJ has similar but parallel investigations going on in seven other states.
In Trump's home state of New York, he faces multiple civil suits targeting his family business over long-running tax issues and possible bank fraud. That's not all. The DoJ opened a probe on Trump after the FBI seized classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, which the former president was not authorised to keep there.
Wow! A particularly untidy case against the ex-president is a lawsuit in New York City from a journalist called Jean Carroll, who is accusing him of raping her in 1995. Trial has been set for April next year. Trump is no stranger to cases of sexual misconduct, but previously he has settled them out of court.
During his November 16 announcement at Mar-a-Lago, Trump insisted that if he had remained president there wouldn't be a war in Ukraine. Actually he may have a point there. It's entirely feasible Russia would not have invaded.
However, it's not because of the self-serving reasons Trump gives. It's because his cozy relationship with President Vladimir Putin would have made the Russian leader disinclined to embarrass the only sympathetic US administration he's known. Remarkably, during his formal declaration of candidacy, Trump never once condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Trump has a habit of shooting himself in the foot, though in a weird way he has a knack of turning tables in his favour with his loyalists. He has come under fire across party lines for hosting a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on November 22 for Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, together with rapper Kanye West (he now calls himself Ye), who has lost lucrative corporate endorsements for making anti-Jewish comments.
"There's no room in the Republican party for anti-Semitism and white supremacy," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell solemnly declared. “And anyone meeting people advocating that view, in my judgement, are highly unlikely ever to be elected president of the United States." McConnell's party counterpart in the House of Representatives who is slated to become Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, concurred.
McConnell and McCarthy were very muted when it came to criticising Trump during his previous reign. That they're speaking out now shows how the landscape has changed. Trump didn't even acknowledge the Fuentes-West outcry, much less apologise. Typically Trump.
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If the ambition of the Hustler Fund is to bring down overall interest rates, that’s good. But questions have been raised about the mandatory five per cent savings/pension component. Why make it mandatory?
And when did borrowers start taking loans to save? You save from income, not loans. Most worryingly, where will the savings money be put? NSSF? Oh my. The same NSSF that was regularly raided by YK’92 in the 90s? Hustlers normally save with their SACCOs and for company employees they have their company pension schemes. And how does one access his savings if he wants to opt out of the Hustler Fund?
[email protected]; @GitauWarigi