Arraignment Day

“Will you come speak to us?” a reporter called out, as Donald Trump left the Manhattan district attorney’s office Tuesday, en route to a courtroom, where he was arraigned.

Trump glowered at the media scrum.

Hours earlier, he took to Truth Social to lament his plight. “Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL,” he said. “WOW, they are going to ARREST ME.”

Yes, it did seem surreal. And yes, they did arrest him. Sort of. He was accorded special treatment in consideration of — I don’t know — just everything. In consideration of everything.

Trump was charged with 34 class E felonies, all related to falsified business records. They carry a maximum sentence of four years. It’s safe to assume Trump won’t spend even four hours in any kind of detention facility, or at least not in connection with this case.

He is, of course, being investigated in several other matters, including a trio of criminal probes. The two most serious for Trump personally are the Georgia investigation (which centers around his infamous request that state officials “find” 11,780 votes in 2020) and the Special Counsel probe (which includes both the classified documents scandal and the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots).

Tuesday’s proceedings were a veritable circus, and although some reports suggested Trump went out of his way to create a spectacle, he didn’t look especially amused. There were helicopters, hyperventilating reporters, paparazzi, armed security personnel everywhere and competing protests at a nearby park, where Marjorie Taylor Greene showed up with a megaphone.

Last week, Trump became the first US president to be indicted, and his supporters on Capitol Hill are beside themselves. Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg is now the subject of endless derision from Trump’s fanbase, both within government and without. Trump has called Bragg everything from an “animal” to a “degenerate psychopath.”

In a Tuesday statement, Bragg said that, “Manhattan is home to the country’s most significant business market. We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.”

Bragg’s case may or may not succeed. At worst, Trump would get probation, but it’s not even clear what that would mean in his case. More than anything, the Manhattan matter is symbolic — it shows that Trump isn’t, in fact, above the law, or at least not above being charged with a crime. (Or 34 crimes.)

The symbolism, and the fact that Tuesday went off without incident, could be meaningful to the extent it demonstrates that Trump can be indicted, hauled in and arraigned just like anybody else.

Notably, Trump was accompanied Tuesday by Boris Epshteyn, whose phone was seized by federal agents last year, likely in connection with the Trump White House’s efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

As expected, the elevation of what might otherwise be a misdemeanor to a felony appeared to be based on the notion that Trump’s falsification of business records was done in connection with a violation of election laws.

“The Defendant orchestrated a scheme… to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects,” Bragg’s statement of the facts read. “In order to execute the unlawful scheme, the participants violated election laws and made and caused false entries in the business records of various entities in New York.”

According to an account published by Rolling Stone, Trump was given the opportunity to “surrender quietly and be arraigned over Zoom.” It was Trump, a law enforcement official said, who insisted on the midday spectacle in Manhattan.

“It’s kind of a Jesus Christ thing,” a source close to Trump told the magazine. “He is saying, ‘I’m absorbing all this pain from all around from everywhere so you don’t have to.'”


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5 thoughts on “Arraignment Day

    1. This guy has clearly been a rotten egg for as long as I’ve been aware of him (going back to my time in NYC in early 80’s), and despite my sometimes conservative and libertarian leanings and vascillating political loyalties I’ve detested the man just as long. So – here’s hoping this is only the first crack in his shell, and his egg will be thoroughly beaten and cooked!

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