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When Trump goes to court, what will actually happen?

The Democrats are talking about gun control and the Republicans are talking about paying off porn stars

Image: The New European

This is a landmark moment in the histories of the United States, and of Donald Trump. The former US president has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his alleged part in paying hush money to a porn star who he wanted to keep quiet in the run-up to the 2016 election. It is the first time in American history that any president, sitting or former, will face criminal charges.

It takes the nation back, for those old enough to remember, to the bad old days of Richard Nixon and Watergate. The Watergate break-in, in which operatives, with the full knowledge of the president of the United States, tried to steal material to harm the Democrats, was both a real and an existential crisis.

It made the nation seem like a police state. Now, with charges about to be brought against the 45th president, America feels, for many citizens, like something out of control.

Although not a monarch, the man in the Oval Office is considered a kind of example. Because, for all its cynicism about the White House, Americans still see the president as a representative of an ideal of the US. Proof that the US is the best. The president is “first among equals”. He matters.

From the beginning, Trump played the dark side of all of this: The Evil King; The Big Bad Daddy; The Vengeance Seeker; He Who Must Be Obeyed; God The Father.

The GOP are rallying around their de facto leader. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida where Trump now lives, has stated that he will not honour any extradition request, if it comes. DeSantis, a graduate of Harvard Law School who happens to be Trump’s main opponent for the Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, knows that he cannot block a request from another state. He’s blowing smoke.

The Republicans in the House are vowing to intervene but they, too, know that the nation is called the United States. The states are sovereign unless otherwise stated in the Constitution. Nowhere does it say that the Feds can step into a local prosecution – because that is what this is.

“Teflon Don” and “Don The Con”, the names Trump is known by in New York City, has always had an air of invincibility around him. And now, the game is up.

He will arrive on Tuesday with a phalanx of secret service agents, which he will no doubt cause to look like a mixture of a Praetorian Guard and Mafia “buttons” protecting the capo di tutti capi. 

All members of the New York Police Department had been told, from March 30th, to be in uniform: that includes undercover detectives, the lot. They know the drill when a high profile person enters the District Court. They know “Don The Con”, too.

In the United States, the district attorney is elected. And Alvin Bragg, who ran for office as a Democrat and who vowed to get Trump, was the person who convened the grand jury. This is an institution handed down from England and is made up of ordinary citizens who cause a person to go to trial.

Bragg vowed to bring Trump to justice. Trump has called on his MAGA base to rally and protest, as he did on January 6, 2021, which led to the attack on the Capitol.

But with respect to the Capitol and Washington DC police, the NYPD and New York City, are not the same. The NYPD will take you out. 

This is what will happen to Trump when he arrives in Manhattan on Tuesday:

One: Surrender to the district attorney’s office.

Two: Taken upstairs to the detective squad.

Three: Fingerprinted and the mugshot. Trump is already fund-raising off his picture.

Four: Provided a conference room due to his Secret Service detail.

Five: Brought to the arraignment judge who will read the charges and set the date for his next appearance.  

Six: Release on his own recognisance.

Seven: The Perp Walk. This is where the arraigned person faces the exit, with the flashbulbs; the yelling of questions, the sneers. Or maybe they’ll give him the courtesy of leaving another way. It is said that Trump already has his “perp face” prepared.

Legal experts familiar with how the Manhattan DA works believe that, if convicted, Trump will probably be sentenced to one year, max. But he won’t do time.

But none of that is the point. Donald J. Trump will forever be known as the first president impeached – twice; and the first former President indicted. With his history, it all seems apt.

To avoid being accused of political interference, the White House has so far declined to comment.

Their gift from all this: a split screen for the Democrats: Joe Biden will talk about gun control and protecting Social Security. The Republican Party will talk about Trump and the porn star. Trump will use his troubles for all they are worth. To him. He knows the terrain. He is a creature of the New York City tabloids and they love him.

A crisis: both real and existential, exists in the United States, one that Hillary Clinton, among others, predicted if Donald Trump became president. Yusef Salaam, one of the African American young men known then as the Central Park Five, who were falsely accused, convicted, and incarcerated for rape, and against whom Trump led a vociferous campaign in favour of the death penalty, is now a motivational speaker. Convicted as a juvenile, he went on to earn a doctorate, and is now a candidate for the city council. 

He knows what will happen on Tuesday. Trump will walk down that same corridor to the judge that he did. He has one word for it all: “Karma”.

The American crisis, always lurking at the base of the Republic, lies in the anecdotal reply that Benjamin Franklin is said to have given after leaving Independence Hall following the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Someone is alleged to have shouted out: “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”

To which Franklin is said to have replied, “A republic. If you can keep it.”

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