Trump trial, his Florida guests, reveal what a sick joke American politics have become | Opinion

We’ve reached the act in Donald Trump’s trial that is no longer farce, but infuriating. This is what the supposedly greatest country on the planet is transmitting to the rest of the world, that we are unserious even about the principles we declare we hold most dear.

We’ve had a porn actress describing sexual acts in uncomfortable detail. A defense attorney asked a key prosecution witness why he went on TikTok and called the attorney a “crying little (expletive).” And a former president who labeled a political rival “Sleepy Joe” has resembled an old man who can’t keep his eyes open.

It’s not Shakespeare in the Park. It’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in a Manhattan courthouse.

This week, we heard from Michael Cohen, a man who has served a year in prison for the crimes for which Trump is on trial. Cohen is a liar who lied in service of a liar and all he got was an orange jumpsuit. He seemed determined to ensure his former boss will be in one soon. He made it clear they committed fraud together to hide Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels to help Trump become president.

Trump “wasn’t thinking about (wife) Melania. This was all about the campaign,” Cohen testified while Trump nodded his head no.

“Everything required Mr. Trump’s sign-off,” Cohen said.

He hasn’t been the star of the week in the courtroom, though. Those roles were played by a group of men so unscrupulous they decided to turn this criminal court proceeding into a political rally, in part for Trump, but likely mostly for themselves.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Byron Daniels, both of Florida, showed up at the courthouse. Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who made his name, in part, by spitting on poor white people in Appalachia in a much-discussed book, also made an appearance. Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville showed up, as did former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Speaker Mike Johnson even made the trek to kiss Trump’s ring.

They did this even though the circus-like atmosphere of die hard Trump supporters I witnessed when Trump showed up to court after being indicted has died down.

Those men didn’t head to Manhattan to brag about our democracy, to say it was a great illustration of holding fast to the principle that no man was above the law. Most of them likely headed there to get TV time to remind their emperor they were available to serve as his running mate. They took turns in a seemingly-choreographed verbal attack on the family of the judge overseeing the case, doing what Trump can no longer do after being hit with a gag order.

They didn’t care about the methodical way the prosecution has been laying out key facts about Trump’s scheme. They didn’t care about the facts at all, much in the way they seemed not to care that Trump undermined our democracy by lying about the 2020 results and incited a violent insurrection attempt.

They didn’t care that the man they had chosen to blindly follow has made a mockery of the “family values” party. They didn’t care that the case against Trump was stronger than many pundits and members of the public assumed before it began.

The jury will decide Trump’s legal fate, which rests on how those men and women interpret complex case law. I won’t make a prediction. I’ll leave that up to overly-confident political analysts.

But what’s been most infuriating about this week is that the world’s lone super-power has been exposed like never before by a liar who lied in service of a liar because that liar still has a solid chance of becoming president once again — no matter what happens in that courtroom the rest of this week or even next week. Maybe that’s why relatively few Americans are paying attention. They don’t want to see the sick joke their country has become.

Issac Bailey is a McClatchy Opinion writer in North and South Carolina.