When the eagerly-awaited charges against Donald Trump were finally made public last Tuesday, the jaws of some liberal commentators in U.S. media dropped. The charges were somehow not what had they had been expecting and probably hoping for in the weeks leading up to the release.
It had already been reported several days earlier that the ex-president would be arraigned. But the precise legal contents of the case were unknown; New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg remained tightlipped.
That did not keep the central protagonist from using the situation to generate political capital before any of the 34 charges had been made public. Big-name Republicans saw themselves obliged to position themselves loudly behind Trump just to ensure that they would not be discredited later as “traitors.” Even the man who is probably Trump’s strongest challenger now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, went all out and declared that Florida, Trump’s home of choice, would not comply with any orders from New York to extradite Trump. The indictment was politically motivated and “un-American,” DeSantis said. Again, all without knowing the contents of the case.
But Democrats are also complicit in tearing down and polarizing every single U.S. institution. Bragg is a Democratic politician and was elected district attorney in that capacity. Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, is said to have donated money to Democratic campaigns. Not a large sum, but still a violation of bar association rules. Merchan’s daughter? She worked for Joe Biden’s campaign.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the legal proceedings in New York are not endangering, but instead cementing, Trump’s ticket for the 2024 presidential election. For years, Republicans had tried to get rid of what John Bolton called “a cancer on the Republican Party.” But opposition to Trump did not gain momentum until the Trumpists’ poor showing in the midterm elections last fall. That momentum seems to have evaporated now.
The case in New York has dumped Trump right back where he feels most at home, in the center of public attention, attacked by the “establishment” and the “deep state,” which are now “abusing” the judicial system to hurt him. That half the country is angered by his alleged violations of the law and his disrespectful interactions with Bragg and Merchan is exactly what the 76-year-old wants. It is precisely what he needs to more easily manipulate the other half of an increasingly divided country in his favor. “They’re not after me, they’re after you…I’m just standing in the way!” Trump boasts on his website. The donations that flowed into his campaign after the indictment have already reached a sum in the tens of millions of dollars.
Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor and now one of his declared enemies, described himself to liberal U.S. media as “extraordinarily distressed” about the shallowness of the charges. Right now, Bolton said, District Attorney Bragg is Trump’s best man — he is helping, not hurting, the ex-president with the indictment. Chances are high, according to Bolton, that the case will be dismissed. And that would just be “rocket fuel” for Trump.