Why aren't the MAGA faithful protesting Trump's trial/pity party?

I am told, over and over again, that former President Donald Trump’s MAGA faithful are legion, that they will follow him to the ends of the earth and that his support is massive and unparalleled.

But for some reason, the area outside and around Trump’s ongoing criminal trial/pity party in Manhattan has been largely MAGA-free. It seems almost rude to a man who boasts of being beloved. Perhaps the invitations got lost in the mail?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 23, 2024 in New York City. Former U.S. President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

While Trump sits in a Manhattan criminal courtroom day after day simply because “evidence” led a “grand jury” to indict him on 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election, the streets of New York City and the rest of America remain un-taken-to.

What if Trump held a pity party in Manhattan and no MAGAs came?

On Monday, Trump got on social media and beckoned his followers to protest: “GO OUT AND PEACEFULLY PROTEST. RALLY BEHIND MAGA.”

But as The New York Times reported, the all-caps RALLYING at a park across from the courthouse has been a bit lowercase: “Over the last week, demonstrators visibly identifying as supporting Mr. Trump – with red hats or clothing, or banners and flags – have never totaled more than a dozen. On most days, the number of people total in the portion of the park designated for protesters for or against Mr. Trump has never been more than two or three dozen.”

Steve Merczynski, of New York, shows off his scarf at a pro-Trump protest in New York City on April 15, 2024, the first day of the former president's hush money trial.

Steve Merczynski, of New York, shows off his scarf at a pro-Trump protest in New York City on April 15, 2024, the first day of the former president’s hush money trial.

Of course, Trump might not be helping his cause. While inviting MAGA fans to come out, he has been simultaneously and wrongly claiming that the area around the courthouse “is completely CLOSED DOWN,” declaring it “SO UNFAIR!!!” (He should also be on trial for excessive use of exclamation points.)

In its report, The Times noted: “The area was not, in fact, completely closed down. The courthouse has remained open to the public, including spectators who want to attend the trial, pool cameras in the hallway – and even the sidewalk in front of the courthouse has remained open to pedestrian traffic. Twenty minutes later, Mr. Trump compared the courthouse to ‘an armed camp.’ ”

Trump erratic behavior during trial: Trump was unhinged during first week of hush money trial. He’ll only get weirder.

Trump keeps lying to his supporters, which is not a surprise

On Tuesday before the trial resumed, Trump talked to reporters like a kid trying to explain why nobody came to his birthday party: “It’s interesting outside, for great Americans, people who want come down, if they want to protest at the court, if they want to protest peacefully, we have more police presence here than anyone’s ever seen. For blocks, you can’t get near this courthouse.”

Shortly after that, an NBC News reporter posted video from outside the courthouse on social media and wrote: “Trump just claimed that the police have shut down the streets around the courthouse for blocks & that his protesters can’t be here. Just … not true. There is one pro-Trump person here & the main street along the courthouse is open to traffic.”

After leaving court Tuesday, Trump posted this on social media: “Thousands of people were turned away from the Courthouse in Lower Manhattan by steel stanchions and police, literally blocks from the tiny side door from where I enter and leave. It is an armed camp to keep people away.”

That is a weird and sad little fantasy, which is strange, as I’ve never known Trump to lie or exaggerate.

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Trump seems sad nobody wants to protest his trial

Before the trial began April 15, the Trump campaign was hyping the chaos that would ensue once the courtroom drama began, sending out a fundraising email with the subject line: “72 HOURS UNTIL ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!”

The email reiterated: “If we fail to have a MASSIVE outpouring of peaceful patriotic support – right here, right now – all Hell will break loose.”

The trial started and, shockingly, all hell remained decidedly non-loose.

Fox News is helping fan the woe-is-me flames for Trump

Right-wing media figures have been doing all they can to spur sympathy for Trump as he suffers under the weight of possible accountability.

“They’re draining his brain and his body,” Fox News host Jesse Watters wailed. “You’re going to take a man who’s usually golfing or in action and you’re going to sit him in a chair in freezing temperatures and just let people rip you and you can’t say anything. Four days a week? Eight hours a day? That takes a toll.”

That also sounds like a short work week for most Americans, but whatever. Tragedy is subjective.

GOP becomes Trump’s piggy bank: With one letter, Trump turned the Republican Party into an extortion racket

Where, oh where have the MAGA faithful gone?

The problem is that nothing seems to be working. Trump’s “COME OUT AND SUPPORT POOR ME AS I’M FORCED TO NOT BE AT MY GOLD-PLATED GOLF RESORT RAGE-POSTING ON TRUTH SOCIAL!” appeal isn’t putting enough feet on the pavement.

It probably doesn’t help that the last time he called MAGA supporters to come protest, hundreds of them wound up in prison after attacking the U.S. Capitol.

Rioters stand on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building to protest the election of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan 6, 2020.

Rioters stand on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building to protest the election of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan 6, 2020.

Maybe Trump just needs to post harder on social media. Maybe campaign officials need to ask nicer in their fundraising invitations.

Or maybe, just maybe, the intensity of Trump’s support has been a bit overblown by the cold, aggrieved man spending his spring days before a jury.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on X, formerly Twitter, @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.com/RexIsAJerk

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump’s trial attracts few MAGA protesters. Could they be… bored?

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