• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

The Beginning of Trump’s Hearings

BySam Marks

Apr 8, 2023
Image of Donald Trump.Black suit and blue tie

Despite surviving the Jan 6 investigation committee and two impeachment trials during his presidency, Donald Trump finally seems to be getting his just desserts. Making history as the first president to ever be arrested for a crime, on April 4, the former president was charged with 34 felonies by the Manhattan Grand Jury. As his private plane, fittingly named “Trump Force One”, landed at New York’s La Guardia airport, the stage was set for one of Americas’ most controversial and volatile political figures to be brought to justice. But out of all the crimes Trump could have been charged with, this case is a bit out of left field.  

The charges levied against Trump relate to a scandal he had with pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump allegedly paid Daniels hush money to cover up an affair the two had prior to the 2016 presidential election. The transaction caused Trump to falsify business records, a misdemeanor in the state of New York. However, the New York County District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, has argued that the Daniels-Trump scandal is worthy of such felony charges, upgrading them from misdemeanours if they are proven to lead to another crime. This case is shaky at best, even in the minds of opponents of Trump. 

Ultimately, this case differs heavily in terms of the importance Americans place on the issue. Recent polling has shown that 76% of Americans believe these charges were politically motivated. While 60% of Americans support the charges anyway, there have been worries that the perceived politicization of the charges could lead to Trump supporters (or more diehard opponents) getting riled up by the legal battle. While both groups have descended to the streets outside of the New York Criminal Court buildings, this is a mild showing compared to other incidents of Trump-inspired unrest. 

Contrary to the white nationalist protests in 2020 and the Capitol insurrection in 2021, the protestors and provocateurs at Trump’s indictment have largely been kept behind police barricades. While the outcome of the ruling may result in greater retaliation occurring, I don’t believe there is as much motivation from pro-Trump or anti-Trump forces to get anything more than angry from a distance. But while the case itself may not be so explosive to the American public, it may lead to a series of effects on Trumps campaign for president in 2024. 

Having declared to be running for president again, Trump and his supporters have used the indictment and arrest as evidence of ongoing persecution against him. With the already self-admitted belief from most Americans that these charges are politically motivated, this doesn’t seem too far-fetched. In the context of 2024, Trump has still said he will run for president regardless of the indictment. But the indictment occurring on its own is enough to give Trump something he lost with much of the base that voted for him in 2016: legitimacy.

Trump rode into the White House on the reputation of being an outsider big businessman who would take on the ineffective and corrupt establishment politicians. Since having entered office, lost reelection, and subsequently seen a loss of support, it is clear that a significant amount of his base has grown weary of the act. But now the indictment has given him new potential life. He could walk out free of the charges as “the man they could not jail” and fly back home to Florida to give a rapturous speech about being stronger than ever. He could walk into jail, giving statements to reporters about how he will never stop fighting for what he believes in, taking away the man but not his voice. The Democratic party will have to deal with one of these characters, one that is of their own creation.  

Every day that Trump testifies in that courtroom, his face will be televised for all Americans to watch until the trial is finished. Just as has been done since 2016, 2023 will be another year of free press for Trump. Even if that press relates to a hush money scandal to cover up an affair, “any press is good press” since no other would-be candidates for president in 2024 will be given such coverage.

Image: Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.