Mr Trump may have been charged on many counts but they will be known only after his arraignment takes place on Tuesday when he surrenders.
Mr Donald J. Trump becomes the first US President to face criminal charges. While his record in office may have suggested a strong likelihood of such an eventuality occurring anyway, his impending arrest will represent an inflection point in American history. There is also the possibility this criminal action by a Manhattan grand jury might trigger more serious indictments regarding his having possibly incited the violent Capitol Hill insurrection. It appears now that the case against the flamboyant maverick of a former US President on paying hush money to a porn star after an adulterous interlude is akin to Al Capone being arraigned on a tax charge.
The repercussions will, of course, be far more serious regardless of the outcome in this case. Sitting US Presidents enjoy immunity though at least one President, Ulysses S. Grant, had paid a fine for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. Former Presidents like Richard Nixon post-Watergate and Bill Clinton, found guilty of perjury in his Monica Lewinsky affair testimony, who could have been charged after resigning or demitting office received a presidential pardon or struck a deal with law enforcement.
Now that the taboo on charging past Presidents, even ones cloaked in scandals, has been broken, the US enters totally uncharted territory, which should be a cause of worry for the world’s oldest democracy, riven as it is by the deepest polarisation in history after one term in office for Mr Trump with his cavalier attitude towards issues and an approach invariably more confrontational than conventional.
Mr Trump may have been charged on many counts but they will be known only after his arraignment takes place on Tuesday when he surrenders. The curious thing is, given the nature of the convoluted politics of today and the public appeal of populist politicians, the former reality show star and realtor may well see in all this an opportunity to further his re-run for the White House in 2024.
It is an easily understood rule that no one in a democracy is above the law, not even a President and commander-in-chief with a valid claim to be the planet’s most powerful person though Mr. Trump let that image down by drawing a Doomsday scenario of violence on his arrest. As US democracy grapples with the pros and cons of the case of Donald J. Trump, the world is “watching”, a term that is trending these days in the free world.