Roland Nelles

Indictment of Donald Trump He Had It Coming

Roland Nelles
A Commentary by Roland Nelles
The indictment of Donald Trump was long overdue. In a constitutional democracy, nobody can stand above the law.
Donald Trump on March 25 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Donald Trump on March 25 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Foto: Evan Vucci / AP

Miracles still do happen. Donald Trump has actually been indicted. Finally, one is tempted to add.

After eluding the wheels of justice for so long with an unending repertoire of tricks, feints and lies, he now finds himself equal before the law after all. Naturally, the outcome of the criminal proceedings for his alleged hush-money payment to porno star Stormy Daniels cannot be taken for granted. And we must assume he is innocent until proven guilty. But one thing is clear: He had it coming.

For years, Trump has acted as though he were above the law. As president, he sought to leverage his power to heap pressure on the judiciary and influence its decisions. He did almost everything in his power to manipulate the results of the 2020 presidential elections. He ignored American law, circumvented rules and flouted standards wherever and whenever he could. Trump being forced to answer for at least one of his presumed misdeeds was long overdue.

Because the prosecutor in New York is a Democrat, Trump is claiming that he is the victim of politicized justice, of a "witch hunt,” as he would have it. But really, the opposite is more likely the case. In the past, the judiciary had always seemed wary of indicting Trump simply because of who he is. The fear of gifting him political momentum by dragging him into court and failing to get a conviction sometimes seemed greater than the desire to apply the law and quickly bring him to justice for his presumed misdeeds.

The old Stormy Daniels case is a perfect example: Even as Trump’s former aide Michael Cohen was long since sent to jail, in part because of this episode, the investigation into Trump simply went on and on, even though the evidence against him was comparable. Now, though, the wait is over.

In a constitutional democracy like the U.S., nobody can stand above the law, not even Donald Trump. If there is sufficient evidence against him in a case, he must be indicted and convicted. If not, then not. That is how the system is supposed to work, and there can be no exceptions for a former president.

Pouring Fuel on the Fire

The case in New York could ultimately contribute to other prosecutors discarding their concerns and moving forward with legal proceedings against Trump. It is, at least, possible that various other investigations into the former president – such as the responsibility he may bear for the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – don’t drag on ad infinitum and are soon brought to a conclusion. If that happens, Trump could be faced with more indictments. And more potential convictions.

Trump is likely to use his legal troubles to further inflame his most zealous followers. And they will almost certainly create a certain amount of unrest. There could even be a renewed outbreak of political violence, given the heated atmosphere and Trump’s propensity for pouring fuel on whatever potentially advantageous fires he sees. Still, it isn’t likely to get him very far.

The noise that he and his people are so fond of producing tends to conceal the fact that most voters in the U.S. have long since passed judgment on Trump and his conduct. Even absent a verdict from a court of law. They aren’t interested in sending him back to the White House – a fact that was made clear through his loss in the 2020 elections and the poor showing by the Republicans in the midterms last fall. America wants to leave this man behind.

The only ones who still don’t seem to have received the message are Trump and his minions. And it seems likely that even a conviction won’t change that.

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