(CNN) Donald Trump This week will take America through another major and unprecedented national drama First Ex-President Must appear in court Accused.
The 45th president is expected to return to Manhattan on Tuesday, having built his legend as a pop culture figure and real estate mogul, but now in “The People of the State of New York” against Donald J. Trump,” engineered his downfall.
In an unusual scenario, Trump will return to New York after a grand jury voted last week to indict him in the case. Quiet payment To coming-of-age film actress Stormi Daniels before the 2016 election. His appearance, along with Secret Service agents, launched his 2024 campaign for the White House. Trump plans to deliver a speech on his return to Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday night in which he will seek to make political gains from a dangerous, personal legal crisis.
For many Americans who loathe Trump and his tumultuous one-term tenure, the case may be a sign that he is finally being called out for his authoritarian behavior, and that everyone — even former presidents — is equal under the law. But Trump, using his ties to his most loyal supporters, says the prosecution is a case of bare-bones political harassment by Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg, designed to thwart the president’s chances of a comeback. Trump is getting a political boost from the spotlight, according to his campaign’s fundraising numbers.
Still, a criminal indictment takes Trump into unique political territory. Regardless of how the case turns out, his return to the spotlight under these circumstances is another twist in an exhausting tale of double impeachment, false claims of a stolen election and a mob attack on an unruly US Congress during his four-year presidency. It left the nation exhausted and deepened its polarization.
Some legal experts, without looking at the still-sealed indictment, have questioned whether a case revolving around violations of accounting practices and possible campaign finance violations merits the historic move to impeach a former president who is already running for office. Again.
At the same time, it is Trump’s transgressive behavior that has pushed the country to this sad moment. He is also being investigated for efforts to change the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia, and is being questioned by a special counsel investigating his alleged hoarding of classified documents and the attack on the US Capitol prior to January 6, 2021. In many of these cases, Trump could face even more serious legal problems than the Stormy Daniels case, but that case is the only one that has yielded an indictment so far.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in all cases. But then again, America’s political and legal systems will be put under the greatest pressure, a constant stress test that could deepen the country’s internal divisions, since Trump descended the escalator at Tower to launch his campaign in 2015.
Trump’s team previews aggressive legal strategy
Before Tuesday’s appearance, Trump’s legal team offered a preview of a robust defense that will unfold against the backdrop of a furious political campaign. Already, his leading loyalists are trying to use the power of the new GOP House majority to interfere with Bragg’s prosecution. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Trump lawyer Joe Tacobina said the former president’s team will loudly and proudly announce his not guilty, signaling an effort to block the case from going to trial.
“Tacopina, a local prosecutor, accused Bragg of overstepping his authority by trying to charge him with a federal election crime because there’s no applicable law, so I highly expect a motion to dismiss. Trump may have been charged with violating the laws in New York, but since the charges have not been made public, His claims are impossible to assess. CNN’s John Miller reported last week that Trump could face more than 30 counts of business fraud.
While Trump’s critics celebrated the indictment as a sign that no one is above the law, Tacobina argued that the former president was being treated worse than an ordinary citizen because of his popularity and political ambitions.
“If he wasn’t running for office now, for the presidency — since this was announced, polls show his numbers are up significantly — if he wasn’t running for the presidency, he wouldn’t have been impeached,” Tacobina said. Bragg has not made any public comments since the indictment was released last Thursday.
Tacobina also telegraphed an attempt to target the credibility of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 and went to prison on charges including lying to Congress, but could be a central witness in any Trump trial.
“Michael Cohen is a pathological, convicted liar, a liar. He lied to the banks, the IRS, Congress,” Tacobina said. But Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, warned at the “State of the Union” that Trump’s defense of tarnishing his client’s reputation won’t work. “My old friend Joe Tacobina … has the wrong strategy if he thinks he’s basing his entire strategy on personal attacks on Michael Cohen,” Davis said.
While Trump’s characteristically aggressive attacks on Bragg, the judge in the case, and the Biden judiciary may be useful in a political context, there’s no guarantee they’ll work in court. Bragg has a precise task in which he must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump committed the crimes. But the former president now finds himself in a new position — bound by the rules of evidence and the court’s schedule, which can be unfazed by his natural attack, digression and delay.
An unprecedented moment
The unprecedented sight of the former president appearing in court for the first time will transform the nation on Tuesday. Dagopina told CNN’s Dana Bash that she is still waiting for details on what will happen. But the complexities of keeping a former president under close Secret Service protection mean this is no ordinary case — even if justice suggests Trump should be treated like any other citizen.
New York is already under intense security because of the political sensitivity of the case and after Trump warned of “death and destruction” before he was indicted, particularly because of his past incitement to the Capitol uprising. So far, however, Trump’s calls for protests have not drawn many of his supporters to the streets.
According to a person who spoke directly to Trump, he was caught off guard by the grand jury’s decision to indict him, CNN reported. While he had previously been looking for an indictment, he began to believe reports that a possible charge was weeks — or longer — away.
The impeachment has already had an impact on the GOP presidential race, with leading Trump contenders such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joining the former president’s allies in Congress to inflame the Bragg investigation as partisan. Given Trump’s popularity with grassroots Republicans, his potential rivals have little other to do, but it would be premature to conclude that Trump’s legal troubles will be a long-term rallying point for GOP voters.
DeSantis, who has yet to declare a run, is running a shadow campaign on the premise that he can deliver Trump-style policies without the confusion or distractions of the former president. And many Republicans are already worried that an impeached GOP nominee could be a liability in the November 2024 general election. Another Republican, Former Arkansas Governor Asa HutchinsonA man who has called for Trump to step aside over the impeachment inquiry announced his own run for the presidency on Sunday.
In a statement Thursday, Trump signaled that he would respond to this brush with political discipline — just as he has tried to shake off previous threats in his business and political career — with fury and using his political power. Great disruption and partisan anger.
“I believe this witch-hunt will cause a huge backlash for Joe Biden,” he said. “The American people realize exactly what the far-left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see that. So our movement and our party — united and strong — first we’re going to defeat Alvin Bragg, then we’re going to defeat Joe Biden, and so will we. These crooked Democrats. We’re going to throw everyone out of office so we can make America great again!”
His approach this Tuesday could be the start of a new, dramatic and divisive chapter in Trump’s political career and another serious test for America.