Skip to Content

Trump augurs divisive year in angry Christmas rant


By Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) — Most global political, spiritual and national leaders mark Christmas with a plea for peace, or by stressing the virtues of family and unity.

That’s not Donald Trump’s style.

The ex-president unleashed an online torrent of fury and bitterness, largely over his legal plights, spanning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, previewing the discord and personal obsessions he will inflict on the nation in a pivotal election year in 2024.

Trump raged at President Joe Biden and special counsel Jack Smith, making expansive and false claims that his attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election represented a vital defense of American democracy and were thus perfectly legal. In a tide of invective in block capitals on his Truth Social network, Trump escalated extreme rhetoric on immigration that has drawn comparisons to Nazi demagoguery in the 1940s and reprised his view of unlimited presidential power that has critics fearing autocracy if he wins the next election.

Just three weeks before voting starts in the Republican nominating race, the front-runner also underscored the extraordinary extent to which false claims about electoral fraud three years ago are still the anchor of his political project. And his tirades, at a time when Americans who celebrate Christmas gathered with loved ones and sought a moment of peace, hint at a furious state of mind and extreme denialism. These are likely to raise new concerns about his temperament and suitability to serve again as commander-in-chief and are a dark omen as to what another Trump term could bring.

In one of his posts, Trump showed a mixture of anger and self-pity while making multiple false or questionable claims.


His mood barely improved on Christmas Day, as he accused Biden of presiding over election interference, in a reference to the 91 criminal charges and four criminal trials he is awaiting. But Trump promised his supporters “A BIG AND GLORIOUS VICTORY FOR THOSE BRAVE AND VALIANT PATRIOTS WHO WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!”

Trump’s legal cloud hangs heavy over him

Trump appeared particularly exercised by the massive legal cloud over his future, especially the probes related to alleged election interference. He slammed Smith, who is bringing a federal case against him in Washington, DC, and pushed his legal team’s claims that his attempts to overturn the 2020 election were in fact merely the act of a president doing his duty to ensure a free and fair election. Such claims will be considered by an appeals court and ultimately probably the US Supreme Court. Trump also lashed out at the Colorado Supreme Court that ruled that he was ineligible for office because of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on insurrectionists. This case is also expected to end up before the US Supreme Court.

Trump’s claims that he was acting in line with his presidential authority fly in the face of evidence already available about his own behavior, for instance in his phone call in which he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes to help him overturn Biden’s victory in a critical swing state. And just last week, the Detroit News reported on a recording of a call in which Trump urged two Michigan county officials not to certify election results from Detroit in 2020.

Despite the evidence that Trump was ready to destroy American democracy to stay in power, his rivals for the Republican nomination have largely only attacked him obliquely for causing the most traumatic election in modern American history in 2020. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, for instance, said last month that she disagreed with Trump’s recent remark that his political opponents were “vermin” — another comment that drew analogies with Nazi rhetoric. “It’s the chaos of it all, right? I think he means well. But the chaos has got to stop,” she told voters in Iowa. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has largely faulted Trump for not living up to his promises to the Make America Great Again movement in his first term and has claimed he’d be a better implementor of such policies. In a CNN town hall this month, DeSantis did step up his attacks on the ex-president — but mostly over policy on abortion, immigration and the economy. The fact that Haley and DeSantis, who are competing to be the main alternative to Trump, do not dare to hammer the ex-president over January 6, 2021, shows the extent to which Trump’s lies about election fraud have become orthodoxy for the grassroots GOP base.

Candidates like former Vice President Mike Pence, who were more aggressive in describing Trump’s malfeasance in 2020, have already left the primary race after their campaigns failed to fire. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has built his campaign around criticizing Trump’s behavior in office, but he’s barely registering in the race outside of New Hampshire, the first primary state.

This is not the first time Trump has used an occasion like Christmas to grind his political ax. And he’s well known for unhinged social media posts. But this glimpse into the Republican front-runner’s state of mind this Christmas season is especially significant ahead of next month’s Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, as polls show he has a good chance of beating Biden in a possible 2024 matchup.

Millions of Americans are likely to vote for Trump in the presidential primary — showing they are not disturbed by his behavior or his increasing extremism. Tens of millions more are likely to back him if he’s the Republican nominee as he seeks to mount a stunning political comeback and become only the second ex-president to win a non-consecutive second term – in Trump’s case, after leaving Washington in disgrace, days after the mob attack on the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6.

Trump’s attraction for these voters is layered. Many Republicans see his presidency, for all its upheaval, as a success and a period of economic wellbeing. Others embrace the constant assault by Trump on institutions of accountability like the legal system and the media, and his attacks on perceived elite experts, as a justified campaign against a political and governing system they believed failed them. And when Trump quipped this month that he’d be a dictator only on “day one” of a new presidency, he was playing into a desire among some supporters for a strongman leader whose transgressions are part of his political attraction.

The fact that so many voters appear ready to embrace Trump again is a commentary on America’s political state heading into a new election that given his behavior seems likely to leave the country, regardless of the outcome, still locked in a cycle of political anger and dislocation.

World leaders pray for peace at Christmas time

Trump’s dark and bitter mood this Christmas contrasts with the messages of other world leaders who stressed the need for peace and reconciliation at a fraught moment with wars raging in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan and elsewhere. In his annual Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing for instance, Pope Francis called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war and the release of Israeli hostages, pleading for an end to Israel’s military operation and its “appalling harvest” of civilian victims. Britain’s King Charles also bemoaned global wars in his Christmas Day broadcast, saying, “at a time of increasingly tragic conflict around the world, I pray that we can also do all in our power to protect each other.” The King added: “The words of Jesus seem more than ever relevant: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’”

Biden, Trump’s potential general election opponent next year, also shared his own Christmas message to Americans on social media, although the tone was far different from that of his predecessor. “This Christmas Eve, my wish for you and your family is that you take a few moments of quiet reflection and find that stillness that’s at the center of the Christmas story,” Biden wrote on X. “May you find peace in this silent night. And warmth from those surrounding you.”

Trump, however, was still fuming on Monday afternoon. In one of his most bizarre and intemperate posts, he wished a merry Christmas to “World Leaders, both good and bad, but none of which are as evil and ‘sick’ as the THUGS we have inside our Country.” In a final slam at Biden and Smith, Trump wrote, “MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓



KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content