The criminal charges pending against Trump alleging he made hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels are no cause for celebration, because once again, and in a big way, Trump is riling up his followers against the rule of law.
His opponents are jumping for joy at the prospect and the blood is starting to boil in the veins of his angry followers. Donald Trump in handcuffs, preferably also in an orange prison jumpsuit, in court in New York. It would be the image of the century and the climax of an insane polarization that has poisoned the social climate in the U.S. since that day eight years ago when the narcissistic populist announced his first presidential candidacy.
But extreme caution is necessary and on both sides. It may be true, in fact, that indications have been mounting in recent days that charges will be brought against the former president. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been presenting key witnesses and evidence to a grand jury. But it is not clear if or when the jury members will issue an indictment.
Trump, A Notorious Liar
Trump, a notorious liar, alone made the claim that he would be “arrested” this coming Tuesday. The reason why the former president trumpeted the pending charges on a Saturday morning with two dramatic postings on his propaganda platform Truth Social, written in all caps, is clear.
A day earlier, The New York Times described the strategy in an article headlined, “Trump’s Team Plans to Attack.” An unbridled attack as a defense. The billionaire, who is running for president again in 2024, is using every possible means to discredit the proceedings as politically motivated; Joe Biden, left-wing elites, philanthropist George Soros, and who know who else have sworn to prevent the defender of the true American patriots from returning to the White House, according to the Trump team’s conspiracy theory. “But they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you,” Republican cult leader Trump hammered home to his brood.
Failed Impeachment Proceedings
That makes it all the more important that the charges really stick. After two failed attempts to impeach Trump, the justice system has just one shot left to finally arrest the derider of democracy. And precisely for that reason, the possible indictment in New York does not give Trump’s opponents reason to celebrate. It is not, after all, about his wide-ranging attempts to falsify election results, nor is it about his possible suppression of confidential documents, both of which acts are being investigated elsewhere. District Attorney Bragg is only responsible for investigating the hush money payments by Trump to his ex-lover Daniels.
Behind the case lies an unpleasant story that speaks volumes about Trump’s abhorrent character, a man who now refers to his former lover insultingly as “Horseface.” But only two points are judicially relevant. First, with the secret payment of $130,000, presumably to spare him embarrassing headlines during the presidential campaign, Trump may have violated campaign finance laws about transparency. Second, the sum was falsely recorded as “attorney fees,” an act punishable under law if the recording of the fees was intended to cover up criminal activity.
Fateful Weeks in the US
Compared to the former president’s monstrous misdoings, which even include staging an attempted coup, the potential charges sound quite minor. And it can somehow be sensed that they are difficult to prove, especially since the principal prosecution witness, Trump’s former personal lawyer, does not have a particularly good reputation. Given how overdue the courts are in dealing with the man who led the U.S. like a mafia boss is, it makes one especially nervous in this specific case.
Maybe District Attorney Bragg still has a surprise rabbit to pull out of the hat. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be any guarantee that the charges would lead to any triumphant success, as opposed to ending up as a gigantic bust. So, there’s no reason for preemptive schadenfreude — especially since Trump has already launched a counteroffensive. His calls for his followers to “protest, take our nation back!” does not just sound familiar. After the events of Jan. 6, 2021, only the very naïve or blindly ideological would claim that the call is harmless. A former president is, in fact, mobilizing a right-wing mob, some members of which are willing to commit violence, against the democratic judicial system of his country. An event that would seem inconceivable were there no precedent for it. “Be there! Will be wild!” Trump wrote before the storming of the Capitol. There are signs that America has another few fateful weeks in front of it.