The indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump shows no one is above the law.
An unprecedented move yesterday by a Manhattan grand jury elicited a wave of predictably depressing responses, from a divided country held in thrall to Trump, whether its misguided loyalty or absolute disdain.
This is the same Trump who’s presidency ended after HE attempted to cling to power by encouraging a group of ne’er do wells to launch a deadly assault on the US Capitol in January of 2021.
This indictment centres on apparent payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims by porn star Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal that they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
The man that would be president again next year raged in an unedifying manner, but perhaps understandably as one who is now running scared ahead of the vote to win the White House.
Trump’s prepared statement denounced the grand jury vote as “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history”.
He was the first president to be impeached twice, first for urging Ukraine to launch a criminal investigation into Joe Biden, and then for the Capitol attack on 6 January 2021.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference,” he said. “Never before in our Nation’s history has this been done.”
Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg is under siege from disaffected Republicans while the former President accused him of “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work” while failing to prosecute crime in New York.
Many prominent Republicans then took their cue from their hero. Despite recently being made fun of relentlessly by Trump, his would-be presidential rival Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, called the indictment “un-American”.
The governor of Florida, where Trump has lived, critically said that he would not oblige an extradition request should The Donald refuse to surrender voluntarily.
Trump’s Vice-President Mike Pence, whom he hung out to dry with the insurrectionists two years ago in the Capitol attack was enraged: “I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage.”
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said. “The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
Veteran Republican, senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham branded the indictment “one of the most irresponsible decisions in American history by any prosecutor”.
“The chief witness for prosecution is a convicted felon, Michael Cohen, whose previous lawyer said he is untrustworthy. Upon scrutiny, this case folds like a cheap suit.”
The Democratic reaction was more muted and measured.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said there should be “no outside political influence, intimidation or interference in the case” and urged calm in response to the indictment.
California congressman Adam Schiff,who led the prosecution in Trump’s first impeachment trial, pointed to Trump’s “unlawful conduct” as unprecedented in US history.
Washington based watchdog organisation Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics branded Trump the “most corrupt president in American history”.
Meanwhile Trumpremains the subject of three separate criminal investigations, involving his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that culminated in the January 6 assault on the US Capitol as well as handling of classified documents that he improperly kept after leaving the White House.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and a key witness who testified that he arranged the payments to Daniels on Trump’s behalf, said he took “solace in validating the adage that no one is above the law, not even a former president”.