A turning point, a push, a setback, a return to the starting square, the prologue of the exit from the scene: all the hypotheses are open, on theimpact that theindictment and the process will get on Donald Trump’s election campaign per Usa 2024. The ex-president tycoon is accused of 34 felonies by the New York judiciary. The presidential election in the United States will be on November 5, 2024; the primaries for the selection of candidates will begin in January.
For us Italians, it is a film already seen: the accusations against the tycoon leader, for events where private and political intertwine; the cries of persecution and the claims of having done “nothing wrong”; the alchemies of the lawyers and the requests to move the venue of the trial; the negotiations on the timing and modalities of the judgment; only the medical certificates are missing to postpone the hearings and postpone the sentences – but it’s a safe bet that those will arrive as well.
A historic day in New York
The rest has all already happened, with the speed, which is not a guarantee of fairness, of American justice, in an afternoon of New York: the former president, presented himself at the Palace of Justice in Manhattan, was formally arrested – but without handcuffs and without a mugshot; and even without cameras, he appeared in the courtroom, heard the 34 charges read, he declared himself innocent; and was released, without bail and without limitations, not even the obligation not to talk about the case so as not to influence the jury. The judge only ordered him not to incite violence against his fans.
The most serious charge is that of conspiracy to alter the result of the 2016 election, which Trump won over Hillary Clinton despite three million less popular votes – but that’s how it can be in the US -. According to the New York Attorney General Alvin Bragg, the conspiratorial design was articulated among other things by buying the silence of the porn star Stormy Daniels, alias Stephanie Cliffordand former Playboy bunny Karen McDougal – two women with whom he had sexual relations – and a doorman at Trump Tower who threatened to reveal the existence of his alleged illegitimate child.
Never before had a former president gone on trial for criminal offences. He defines the whole procedure as “surreal” and writes on social media: “I have not done anything illegal”. Then, he takes it out on Bragg, because he “closed New York, mobilized 38,000 agents and will spend $200,000” to pursue “a legal non-disclosure agreement.” But the road to absolution is uphilljust as the one towards the Republican nomination risks becoming so.
The first speech by a former defendant president
Back home in Mar-a-lago, Florida, Trump harangued his supporters – not a lot, indeed, all gathered in the resort lounge: “The only crime I have committed was defending America from those who he wants to destroy it… My indictment is an insult to the United States”.
Trump spoke for just over half an hour: the tycoon, frowning throughout the day, seemed less feisty than usual, but he didn’t give up attacking”the corrupt judicial system, which has now become illegal“. “I never thought something like this could happen in America,” she says. Next to him, two sons, Donald jr and Eric, but not his wife Melania, who had accompanied him to Manhattan, nor his daughter and former councilor Ivanka.
The investigations against him, a plot still to be unraveled, are “political persecutions“; Bragg is “paid by George Soros”; Jack Smith, who investigates the hundreds of classified documents stolen from the White House, is “a madman”. All are tools of the “radical left” who act with the aim of “stopping it at any cost”. Me tooinvestigation in Georgiafor the pressure exerted on state authorities to overturn the outcome of the 2020 flight, is “a false case … and should be closed immediately”.
Political rivals, the president, are also in Trump’s sights Joe Biden and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton. Of Biden, he says: “he wants the Third World War … When he was a senator he did all sorts of things, but no one ever arrested him”. Then he reassures his supporters: “We have been winning for eight years and we will continue to win”.
The day in court and the charges
The prosecution disputed against Trump in the historic hearing on Tuesday 4 April promises, as mentioned, “a conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential elections”. Bragg later explained it in a press conference: the former president tycoon “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified corporate documents in New York to cover up criminal behavior aimed at hiding incriminating information from voters during the 2016 election”.
The 34 counts are all felonies in the lowest level of the New York Penal Code and provide for a maximum penalty of four years in prison. “We cannot and do not want to normalize serious criminal conduct … Everyone is equal before the law,” added Bragg, recalling that Trump reimbursed the payments to his handyman lawyer and matchmaker Michael Cohen come fictitious legal feeswith signed checks in the Oval Office..
Before the court, Trump’s opponents invoked ‘Lock him up’ (‘Slam him in’), but also hundreds of supporters, who chanted: ‘Usa, Usa’ and ‘Trump 2024’. Among the fans, the controversial deputies Marjorie Taylor Greenea conspiratorial suffragette from QAnone George Santoswho even many Republicans deem unworthy of sitting in the House.
After the formalities of the arrest agreed and the reading of the charges, the defendant Trump declared himself ‘Not guilty’. Although his lawyers describe him as “frustrated and disappointed”, he wants to hold the line of “witch hunt“, dragging the party with it, now forced to unite, and make the process a political arena.
The former president is convinced of obtaining the Republican nomination for the White House, mobilizing his base. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll proves him right: among Republicans, Trump rises from 44% to 48% while DeSantis falls from 30% to 19%. However, the unknown factor remains in the other, more serious investigations that are going on.
EPA/ANDREW KELLY / POOL’s photo