The Joy of Making Trump Listen to Mean Tweets About Himself

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty

In his historic New York criminal trial, former President Donald Trump faces the prospect of some very real punishments—including fines and even prison time.

But in court in Manhattan on Tuesday, the former president was subjected to a different kind of punishment that seemed almost expressly designed to torment him: He had to sit silently as mean tweets about him were read aloud.

As prosecutors and defense lawyers sparred over the composition of the jury that will ultimately decide the hush money case, some of the prospective jurors’ past social media posts about the former president were debated for evidence of possible bias. As a result, for more than an hour the notoriously thin-skinned Trump was forced to listen to jokes about his appearance, his likeability, his intelligence, and—to use a phrase Team Trump first popularized—whether prosecutors should “lock him up.”

Trump’s Hardest Fight May Be Staying Awake in Court

You can practically hear the staff in the Saturday Night Live writing room sharpening their pencils already.

These jokes ranged from the caustic to the crude. “I don’t think this is what they meant by Orange is the New Black,” read one post shared by a jury candidate’s husband around 2016 and which featured a photo of Trump and Barack Obama.

“Trump invites the Thai boys to the White House, and the boys request to return to their cave,” read a joke shared by another prospective juror, referring to the young soccer team rescued in Thailand in 2018.

“I’m dumb as fuck,” an AI version of Trump said in one video shared by a prospective juror about two weeks ago. (After admitting they found the video funny, this person was dismissed for cause, but the other two described above ultimately made the jury—no doubt much to Trump’s annoyance).

Although Trump has had trouble staying awake at certain points during the trial so far, including on Tuesday when journalists in the court described his head drooping repeatedly, he reportedly had no such problem during this section of the trial. “Trump doesn’t look amused,” Lawfare’s Tyler McBrien observed from inside the courtroom.

Trump’s Unhinged Now, but Just Wait Until He Takes the Stand

For a man whose ego is so sensitive that he has surrounded himself with a coterie of sycophantic aides and launched a new social media platform where his fans could boost his inane musings without any sense of reality creeping in, the entire process must have been excruciating for Trump.

Indeed, as we know from his seething response to being roasted by Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Trump hates being a laughing stock. Per Roger Stone, that was the event that most likely compelled Trump to run for office in order to be taken seriously—and to seek revenge.

But in court on Tuesday, there would be no such opportunities for Trump to hit back at the jokes about him. Instead, he had to sit silently and listen to person after person talk about how they’ve mocked him in the past.

At one point, it apparently became too much and Trump couldn’t help himself, muttering something while one woman was being questioned about her posts—earning a swift scolding from Judge Juan Merchan.

“Your client was audibly uttering something,” Judge Merchan told Trump’s lawyers in a stern warning. “I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear.”

Indeed, it was this prospective jury member whose posts might have made Trump the most uncomfortable on Tuesday.

The ex-president’s legal team uncovered a video the jury candidate had shared on Facebook from the day Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, when the woman had gone to move her car and found people celebrating in the streets. She’d written in her post that she almost felt compelled to honk her horn in order to spread the cheer at what felt like a dance party. She told the court it felt like she was capturing a historic “celebratory moment in New York City.”

Trump’s Violent Rhetoric Deserves Outrage, Not Yawns

Remember that Trump has quite literally constructed an alternate reality for himself out of lies in which he won the election. And as a boy from outer Queens, he has spent his entire adult life trying to impress and outdo the Manhattan glitterati he felt looked down on him.

But here he was on Tuesday, not only making history as the first former president to face a criminal trial, but coming face to face with a Manhattan woman who had captured a moment of history—of reality—that Trump at last had to face: While many people love him, many others hate him.

They celebrated when he lost. They laughed at his misfortune. They danced in the streets.

And as this woman was ultimately added to the jury after convincing the judge she could remain impartial, a thought must have crossed Trump’s mind: No doubt, if he’s convicted, they will dance in the streets again.

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