The latest charges against Donald Trump will do nothing to deter his many supporters within the Republican party. On the contrary, his indictment by a grand jury set up by special counsel Jack Smith plays into the former president’s narrative of victimhood and makes it even more likely that he will be chosen as a candidate.
And that, curiously, is exactly what many senior Democrats want. To his electoral opponents, Trump seems reliably toxic – millions of Americans will turn out to vote against him.
Even if he is convicted of the latest four charges – which include conspiracy to defraud the US and conspiracy against the rights of citizens – Trump might not be debarred from office. He has already been impeached over his role in the events of 6 January 2021. This latest indictment – on top of several others Trump faces – seems unlikely to do more to stop him. There’s no constitutional rule that stops him campaigning for the White House from prison.
All this leaves many bewildered at the state of US democracy. How can a country of 330 million not find two more appealing candidates for its highest office than Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
That Trump behaved disgracefully after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, egging on the movement which resulted in the riots at the Capitol, should go without saying. If he has broken any other laws, whether it be covering up his tax records to conceal hush-money payments or illegally hoarding classified documents, he should be brought to account. However, there is truth in his claims that the justice system is being ‘weaponised’ against him.
It is hard to deny that a good part of the clamour to indict Trump is politically motivated rather than simply a desire to see justice done.