Trump indictment ends decades of perceived invincibility for ‘Teflon Don’

NEW YORK (AP) – When Donald Trump goes before a judge next week to be arraigned in a New York courtroom, it won’t just be a celebration of the first time a former US president has faced criminal charges . It will also be an account of a man long known as the “Teflon Don”, who has so far managed to face serious legal danger despite 40 years of legal scrutiny.

Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, is expected to turn himself in on Tuesday. He faces charges including at least one felony count related to stipend payments to women during his 2016 campaign. Like anyone else on trial, he will be booked, fingerprinted and photographed before he is given an opportunity to plead.

Those spectacles will surely take place at an unprecedented time in American history that will once again show how much Trump – who already had the distinction of being the first president to be inducted twice – has come to grips with with democratic norms. But on a personal level, the indictment shatters the veil of invisibility that Trump has seemed to follow through his decades in business and politics, facing allegations of fraud, collusion and sexual misconduct.

“Boy, after all this time it’s a shock,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said of the indictment. “You know I always thought of him as the Gingerbread Man, shouting, ‘You can’t catch me!’ because he ran away.”

“Given his track record,” he said, “I had a hard time imagining him ever being held accountable.”

“These are not things that Donald Trump ever thought in his entire life, or I, for that matter, that he would ever face,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer and a key witness in the case who served prison time for the. payments, CNN said.

New York Police personnel set up a surveillance camera outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Of course, some of the celebration by Trump’s detractors may be premature. The former president could seek a judge to quickly dismiss the case. And even if it goes ahead, there is no guarantee of conviction. Intensified investigations in Atlanta and Washington are seen as potentially more serious legal threats.

However, Trump and his staff were surprised when news of the New York indictment broke on Thursday afternoon, following news reports that a week-long break had been set for the grand jury hearing the case. As the discussions progressed, some in Trump’s orbit became convinced that the case had stalled and that charges could never be brought. That included Trump attorney Joe Tacopina, who said Friday morning that he hoped “the rule of law would prevail.”

Trump, he said on the “Today” show, was “first hand” on the news of the accusations, but he quickly returned to his usual pushback playbook.

“After he got over that,” he said, “Trump hugged his belt and decided we have to fight now. And he went into a typical Donald Trump posture where he’s ready to fight something he believes is wrong. … I think he’s in the position now that he’s ready to fight him.”

Meanwhile, Trump and his team have tried to use the news to his advantage, hoping to galvanize his loyal base by painting the investigation as part of a larger plot to destroy his candidacy.

Already, the fees have been a huge help to his struggling fundraising. The campaign announced Friday evening that it had raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after the indictment became public, breaking the previous record set by the FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago club Trump.

More than 25% of donations, according to the campaign, came from first-time donors. The average contribution: $34.

His campaign also continued to break out statements of support from dozens of top Republicans who have rallied behind Trump, including some of his declared and likely challengers, underscoring his continued hold on the party. Trump has been in contact by phone with key congressional allies, including members of House leadership and key committees, according to people familiar with the conversations, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the response. .

Supporters of former US President Donald Trump after the news that Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, March 30, 2023, near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Trump ally Indiana Representative Jim Banks, who formally endorsed the former president on Friday, said Trump is “not backing down” and was going to “fight back,” telling a local radio show that he was ” yet another chapter in which Donald Trump is going. to come out on top in the end.”

The former president has once again encouraged the former president in the spotlight he wants, at least temporarily limiting the attention of his rivals, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to challenge Trump for the nomination, is holding events across the board. of the county to promote his book.

Trump aides were discussing other ideas to maximize the situation, including the possibility of holding a press event before or after the settlement. Trump is expected to travel from Florida to New York on Monday and stay overnight at Trump Tower in Lower Manhattan before heading to the courthouse early Tuesday. He will then return to Florida after the arraignment.

Trump has long denied having a sexual encounter with porn actress Stormy Daniels and has blasted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for pursuing the years-long case.

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the opening of the adult entertainment fair ‘Venus,’ in Berlin, October 11, 2018. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Trump also faces ongoing investigations in Georgia, about his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and in Washington, where a special counsel is investigating the events of January 6, 2021, as well as Trump’s handling of classified documents at March. -a-Lago and possible obstruction of the investigation.

But Sam Nunberg, a former longtime aide who broke with Trump years ago, said that while he no longer supports Trump, he believes the Manhattan case is a “waste of time” given the allegations, which remain under seal. And he said he doubted it would matter in the end.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said of the indictment. “What would surprise me is if he ends up behind bars in prison and I don’t see that happening.”

D’Antonio said that sentiment — and a persistent belief that Trump will somehow lead and avoid the charges — persists among the many people who have contacted him in the past 24 hours, despite the charges.

“They’re like, he’s going to get away with it,” he said. “In a way, he’s going to throw it out.”

Leave a Comment