Image credit: Claire Potter.
There are views in this episode that, while sincerely held by those who expressed them, aren’t exactly true: please see the fact check below.. And listeners—there are interactions and language that aren’t exactly appropriate for all ages. Parents may wish to screen this episode first.
It was April 4, 2023, 10:32 a.m. The unthinkable was happening.
An American president was about to be arrested. On March 30, a grand jury convened by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg voted to indict former president Donald J. Trump on what we learned today were 34 felony charges. On Saturday, March 20, on a stage in Waco, Texas, Trump called on his supporters to assemble in Lower Manhattan on the day of his arraignment to “protest” and “take our nation back.”
So, when the court set the date, I knew I had to report the story.
As it turned out, this demo wouldn’t be good for anyone’s brand but mine: the New York Daily News called it a “three-ring circus.” So I wanted to capture this moment—for the historical record, of course. So, these are the conversations I had.
I’ve also included some pictures of my interlocutors below. Along with a few show notes, in the interest of not platforming conspiracy theories and misinformation, I have included a fact check of things that were said. If you want to see the full grand jury indictment of The People of New York vs. Donald J. Trump, go here.
Show notes (and fact check):
- Want to know more about Collect Pond Park? It wasn’t always concrete!
- Blacks for Trump is led by Maurice Symonette, an antisemite and former cult leader who is well-known for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation about prominent Black Americans. You can read for about him here.
Long Island’s GOP Congressman George Santos, a serial fabulist, was spotted at the protest. Reports say that Marjorie Taylor Greene tried to speak but was shouted down by counter-protesters: she may have also been a little freaked out by the collection of alte kakers, performance artists, and crackpots who routinely show up at New York demos.
Michael Picard believes that Donald Trump is the president; he is not, and did not “win by a landslide.” Whether Trump helped farmers, as Michel claims, is debatable. Farm subsidies boomed under Trump, but they were “ad hoc and temporary,” according to one source. And in 2019, farm bankruptcies increased by 20%.
Gregory Price claimed that Trump has been charged with money laundering: the 34 counts do not include this crime.He has also not been formally charged with tax evasion or fraud by New York D.A. Alvin Bragg. The Trump Organization was convicted of tax evasion last year.
Counter to Diane’s statement, there is no question about who won the 2020 election; people in the Philippines are not required to present identification when they vote. Alvin Bragg did not promise to indict Trump during his campaign, but he did promise to hold the former President “accountable.” A rumor has circulated on the right since 2015 that there are Russian and Chinese arrest warrants for George Soros: that is untrue. So-called “Soros prosecutors” are not funded by the billionaire himself: they received donations from pro-democracy organizations to which Soros gives money, but does not direct. Diane is also mistaken, like many on the right, about Obama’s “citizen army:” The proposal was not to create a liberal militia, but to establish a reserve health corps of 6,000 medical providers.
Claire Bond Potter is Professor of Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research and co-Executive Editor of Public Seminar. Her most recent book is Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy (Basic Books, 2020).