The Manhattan District Attorney's office reported last night that a New York grand jury has returned an indictment of former president Trump, the first time this has happened in the 234-year history of the office. Reports this morning say the grand jury charged him with over 30 counts of business crimes, but at the moment, no one outside the jury room and a handful of lawyers knows what the indictment contains. The XPOTUS will travel to New York for his formal arrest, booking, and arraignment on Tuesday, at which point the DA's office will unseal the indictment.
Naturally, the Republican Party has started the outrage machine, glossing over the crimes the grand jury agreed the XPOTUS needs to face trial for, calling it "political." But as author John Scalzi points out, it's only political because the Republican Party has abrogated its responsibilities to the nation:
[It's political] in the sense that one political party is willing to hold Trump accountable for his actions, and one political party absolutely is not. In the perfect world that yet still managed to have Trump, as he is, elected to the office of president, people of good will and a strong sense of justice in both parties would be pursuing criminal indictments of the man, as there are manifestly so many things he could be indicted for. I understand the modern GOP is long past that moment of clarity, however, and continues to purge from its ranks anyone who might suggest such things are possible. So, again, here we are. This is political because the Republican party wants you to think this is political. They have worked long and hard to make it so, and will continue to do so.
For a bit more perspective, the Times' Marc Fisher reminds us that the XPOTUS has evaded criminal liability for half a century already:
Already, Trump’s statements about the Daniels case have followed a pattern he set as far back as 1973, when federal prosecutors accused Trump and his father, Fred, a prominent New York City apartment developer, of turning away Black people who wanted to rent from them. In that case, Trump first denied the allegation, then said he didn’t know his actions were illegal, and then, through his lawyer, accused the government of conducting a bogus “Gestapo-like investigation.”
Trump’s attitude toward law, lawyers and the notion of legal jeopardy closely tracks his approach to business, politics and personal relationships: He has said that he believes in instinct and gut over expertise and rules, that any publicity is good publicity, and that most Americans admire successful people even when — or especially when — they skirt the rules.
The Atlantic's Quinta Jurecic calls the indictment "astonishing and frightening:"
The hush-money case isn’t entirely separate from those ugly aspects of Trump’s presence on the political stage: It did, after all, involve an effort to meddle in the process of an election, in this instance by denying the public the full scope of available information about the man it would soon elect to high office. But even so, the interference itself does seem a little less urgent—and less weighty—than his involvement in fomenting an insurrection.
There’s something very, well, Trumpy about this: He has a way of making everything sordid. Instead of a dramatic discussion about the meaning of accountability for a president who sought to overthrow the will of the voters to stay in power, we’re arguing about the dirty mechanics of hush-money payments to an adult-film star.
The situation might be merely crass if not for the shadow of violence hanging over it. After announcing that he expected to be indicted on March 21, Trump promised “death and destruction” in a post on his bespoke social-media site, Truth Social. Now he’s busy raging about the indictment as “AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE” and “weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent.” The ongoing investigations into Trump’s potential responsibility for the insurrection are a reminder of just how serious this rhetoric can get.
It seems clear that about 30% of the country will back this guy no matter what they learn about him. But I think the other 70% want to see accountability. As the XPOTUS goes through the criminal-justice system for the first of what may be several times in his remaining years on the planet, I hope he gets some.