Charges against Trump set presidential precedent

For the first time in history, a former U.S. president has been placed under arrest and is facing felony charges. Former president Donald Trump was arrested on April 4 and is facing 34 counts of falsifying business documents in the state of New York. The charges are focused on the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, allegedly as hush money to prevent her from discussing her affair with the president. These payments were falsified as payments to Michael Cohen for legal actions, something which did bring down the ire of the New York District Attorney. However, the case report includes several other payments made in a similar fashion, including $30,000 to a Trump Tower doorman, and $150,000 to a Playboy model, Karen McDougal. This sum was alleged to be part of a "catch and kill" scheme to suppress any damaging information about criminal or extralegal activities in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Trump’s critics in the Republican Party have remained skeptical whether this case passes muster. Both Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney and former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton have stated that the case brought forward doesn’t contain enough evidence to guarantee any sort of sentence and the process may yield a not-guilty verdict for the former president. Alvin Bragg, the attorney in charge of the trial, contests those claims, pointing out that the precedent of allowing criminal activities to occur, even if by a former president, is one he does not want to allow. The Republican Party seems to have united on this issue, with most politicians on both sides of the party agreeing that the charges are illegitimate. Eric Trump, the former president's son, has also gone to the internet and spread misinformation, claiming that NYC was shut down by DA Bragg. The mayor of New York did shut down key Manhattan streets, but the mayor doesn't report to the DA, nor is the entire city shut down.

Given that the person the money was given to for the transfer, Michael Cohen, has cooperated with the team and spent time in prison over the charges, there is some indication that these charges may stick, and Trump could spend time behind bars. Cohen’s testimony, if used, could be the key evidence necessary to convict, as it would give the prosecution and explicit case of hush money being paid to various individuals, as well as Cohen classifying the money as "legal fees."

Reactions to the arrest have varied. Protests were held in front of the courthouse, and calls for protest have been widespread, but there hasn’t been any significant protest or violent activities like what occurred on Jan. 6.

Trump has been instructed not to "jeopardize the rule of law" by interfering with the process by the judge in charge of an arraignment — an explicit warning not to use protestors as a way of fighting the charges. As the former president is not considered a flight risk, he returned to Florida after the arraignment, and will continue to campaign going forward. After returning, the president continued to post about his situation on Truth Social, his new social media account, posting all-caps, impassionate threads about the situation. On Easter, the former president posted, "HAPPY EASTER TO ALL, INCLUDING THOSE THAT DREAM ENDLESSLY OF DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY BECAUSE THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF DREAMING ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. THOSE THAT ARE SO INCOMPETENT THEY DON’T REALIZE THAT HAVING A BORDER AND POWERFUL WALL IS A GOOD THING, & HAVING VOTER I.D., ALL PAPER BALLOTS, & SAME DAY VOTING WILL QUICKLY END MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD, & TO ALL OF THOSE WEAK & PATHETIC RINOS, RADICAL LEFT DEMOCRATS, SOCIALISTS MARXISTS, & COMMUNISTS WHO ARE KILLING OUR NATION, REMEMBER, WE WILL BE BACK!" It's another stream-of-consciousness message to his supporters, and, following his arrest, is a return to the stolen election rhetoric that he had used in 2020. Its accompanied by a slew of comparisons of the former president to Jesus on Easter, specifically by various people from the Republican Party. Marjorie Taylor Green claimed that what the former president was doing was literally Christlike, while other loyalists have compared him to Martin Luther King Jr. We will continue to report on the situation as it unfolds.

The next hearing for this case will be in December, as each side will collect evidence and create a case for them to use in the trial.