Column: Trump's pity party maligns America's real darkest days

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower, May 31, 2024, in New York. Manhattan prosecutors urged a judge Wednesday to keep Donald Trump's gag order in place in his hush money criminal case at least until the former president is sentenced in July. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
Former President Trump speaks during a news conference last month at Trump Tower in New York. (Julia Nikhinson / Associated Press)

It’s sad and scary that so many people can believe anything from Donald Trump’s mouth when he contends his felony conviction marked the “darkest day in American history.”

Yes, the Trump campaign actually claimed that in a fundraising pitch.

The darkest day ever in America? Really?

Merely because Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records involving a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she had extramarital sex with him in 2006. The prosecution contended he feared that if the Lake Tahoe one-night stand became public it would hurt his chances of being elected president in 2016.

Trump wasn’t convicted of paying hush money. That’s not illegal. He was found guilty of falsely recording it as a legal expense.

This year’s prospective Republican presidential nominee was convicted by a 12-member Manhattan jury that his legal team helped select. He could have testified, denying the charges directly to the jury, but chose not to.

We saw again that when things go wrong for Trump, it’s never his fault.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” he told reporters. Just as he still claims without evidence that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him — "stolen.”

Read more: How Trump's conviction will — and won't — impact his 2024 chances

The judge was “a devil,” “crooked” and “a tyrant,” he proclaimed. And the case was instigated by the Biden administration — a preposterous contention given that it was a state prosecution, not federal.

Trump’s lack of character is continually displayed by his inability to ever concede defeat, let alone express remorse. Unlike normal humans, he’s too gifted to ever lose. Somebody cheated.

Rioters wave Trump flags at the Capitol.
Rioters supporting then-President Trump wave flags outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

I might not have written anything about this madman’s conviction if his campaign hadn’t emailed a hyperbolic fundraising appeal that at the top proclaimed Thursday, May 30 as the “DARKEST DAY IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

Another emailed fundraising plea screamed: “I AM A POLITICAL PRISONER.”

Some prison! A week later, Trump was in California raising millions in campaign money from rich lemmings who are blindly following him over history’s cliff. He’s destined to go down as one of the nation’s worst presidents. And today’s toadies, worshipers and opportunists may have some explaining to do to their descendants.

Here’s a would-be authoritarian, after all, who has been twice impeached, indicted in four separate criminal cases and had a civil judgment against him for business fraud. And a judge ruled he’d committed sexual assault.

A veteran sits in a wheelchair in a military cemetery
World War II and D-day veteran Jake Larson visits the grave of a soldier from his unit at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, on Tuesday. (Virginia Mayo / Associated Press)

Even if you agree with Republican politicians that the hush money case didn’t merit felony charges — and that it was politically motivated — there’s no excuse for Trump claiming his conviction marked the darkest day in American history.

Either Trump and his team have no sense of history or he doesn’t even try to tell the truth. Probably both. It shows an unacceptable recklessness with words that makes him unfit to lead America, especially in today’s fragile world.

Calling May 30 the nation’s darkest day is disrespectful to the Americans and their families who have suffered truly dark days.

Let me remind you of a few just in my lifetime. And this may be a history lesson for Trump.

Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt eloquently tagged it. Pearl Harbor came under surprise attack by 353 Japanese warplanes, sinking or damaging 16 U.S. ships, destroying 180 aircraft and killing 2,393 Americans while wounding 1,178 others. That day thrust the U.S. into World War II, which killed 416,000 American military personnel.

June 6, 1944, D-day. Looking at the big picture, this was a bright day for allied forces who stormed Normandy beaches and began the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. But it was a dark day for the families of 2,501 Americans who were killed and 5,000 wounded on D-day alone.

Read more: Normandy honors World War II veterans on D-day's 79th anniversary

Nov. 22, 1963, the shocking day when President Kennedy was assassinated by a rifle-wielding ex-Marine while riding in a Dallas motorcade. In many respects, America slid downhill after that.

And then came two gloomy days in 1968 — April 4 and June 5 — when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. That changed American history for the worse.

Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamist suicide terrorists hijacked four airliners, crashing two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The deadliest terrorist attack in history killed 2,977 people and injured thousands more.

Jan. 6, 2021. That’s when a mob of more than 2,000 Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol in a crazed effort to prevent Congress from certifying the presidential election of Joe Biden. Five people died within 36 hours.

This dark day was inspired by Trump, who exhorted the riotous horde just before the attack: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country.”

So on the scale of dark days, May 30 isn’t even a blip. It affected only one person, who apparently cashed in on it politically.

In one respect, it was a dark day because so many Americans bought into the con man’s lies or were afraid to stand up to him.

In another respect, it was a shining day for America because it showed that not even a very powerful bully is above the law.

A truly dark day in American history — ushering in a dark four years — would be Nov. 5, if Trump is again elected president.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.