Trump faces 34 tax and accounting fraud charges in New York. First-ever criminal accusations against an American president. The US joins other democracies that have tried their leaders. South Korea, Peru, Malaysia, and Brazil have imprisoned leaders.
Trump’s latest allegations are minor. After all, most stories have focused on Trump paying a porn star to keep her quiet about their brief affair.
Yet, the investigation is more ordinary and perhaps more devastating for Trump. Trump’s and his team’s accounting of the porn star’s and others’ silence payments is crucial. The Manhattan district attorney alleges a criminal when the Trump campaign claimed the costs as campaign expenses.
Trump paid. He may have falsified these costs. The trial will determine if this deception constitutes a criminal under federal campaign finance statutes. That trial will be delayed. The next in-person hearing is Dec. 4.
Trump may be indicted in another state. Trump may be indicted by a Georgia county for trying to sway state authorities to reject the 2020 election results.
Trump also faces federal accusations.
The Jan. 6 select committee charged the former president with four offenses in December, including helping the mob that destroyed the Capitol, impeding the joint session of Congress on January 6, and conspiring to defraud the US. The Justice Department must pursue such offenses and investigate if Trump obstructed justice and lied about secret papers he kept after leaving office.
In all cases, a special prosecutor is investigating wire fraud and money laundering related to Trump’s fundraising activities after the 2020 election to pursue his manifestly false claims that the election was stolen.
Trump should be imprisoned for lying, cheating, and bullying his way to power. In 2016, Trump supporters chanted “Lock her up!” at rallies to help elect their candidate.
Despite these major probes, Trump’s political career is not done.
He is still the leading Republican presidential candidate for 2024. Trump topped his closest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 8 points last month. After the New York indictment, Trump leads by 25+ points.
79% of Republican Party members support Trump’s MAGA movement. No surprise. Trump-opposing Republicans have quit the GOP. But, the party is not in danger. Before the midterm elections in November, nearly a million people defected to the Republican Party, helping the GOP win the House. Trump-endorsed candidates lost close contests despite the crossover.
In a presidential race against Joe Biden, Trump’s prospects have improved. Trump leads the polls by 1 or 2 points.
It’s early, and Trump might be disqualified or imprisoned by several probes.
The US formerly boasted a stable democracy with fair elections. It mocked countries that tried their presidents and prime ministers. Of course, the US spends billions promoting American-style democracy elsewhere.
No more. The Electoral College, restricted franchise, and money have historically hampered US democracy. Trump has made US democracy a laughingstock worldwide.
Several governments arrest executives for political reasons. The Brazilian Supreme Court overturned Lula’s incarceration. Last year, he was reelected president. The corruption trial of Park Geun-hye was more unbiased.
Trump and his followers claim the claims are politically motivated. He faces clear charges. He will face a jury of his peers for such offenses. American commentators argue no one is above the law (though, in reality, the rich and powerful often are).
But, the allegations are political. Democracy is retaliating for Trump’s sins. He is accused of more than corruption and abuse of authority. If indicted, his political coup attempts will be covered in Georgia and federal courts.
Hence, Donald Trump is not only a political party danger, as many Democrats and even some Republicans claim. He endangers politics. If the US wants to remain a democracy, it must end his political career by holding him accountable for his acts.