Trump Indictment Is a Dangerous Miscalculation
As always in trying to understand the political storms surrounding Donald Trump, beginning with Russiagate and continuing up to his indictment last week by a New York City prosecutor, a deep dive into context is essential, as nothing which appears on the surface is real. That is why the former President’s characterization of reporting about him as “fake news” resonates so well with his supporters.
Indeed, there is a surreal aspect to the frenzied campaign against Trump of the last eight years, which causes his opponents to say and do stupid things which play into his hands. The enthusiasm unleashed among his adversaries about his indictment, over allegations of illegal actions in the payment of hush money to a pornography star, is a perfect example of this.
First, on the context. To understand the nature of the vendetta against Trump, one should read the lengthy article by former New York Times (NYT) reporter Jeff Gerth, which eviscerates the coverage of “Russiagate” in the U.S mainstream media. Titled simply “The press versus the president“, Gerth ridicules the NYT and Washington Post in particular. He shows that most of what was reported in those papers about Russiagate was not only not true, but elaborate fabrications created and shared by the intelligence establishment, the FBI, the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media. A reading of Gerth’s piece demonstrates that Trump’s comment about his indictment, that he is the victim of “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history”, may be an understatement. Adding weight to this accusation is that Gerth’s reporting has been largely kept out of the mainstream press, and many reporters and political opponents of Trump still falsely assert that his election in 2016 was due to interference by Vladimir Putin!
Beyond that, it is fair for Trump to say the indictment is another example of “election interference,” as he has announced for President in 2024 and, in recent polls, is the frontrunner for both the Republican nomination and in the general election. Much speculation centers on whether the legal move will derail his campaign or confirm his status as the leader, by showing that he is the victim of a conspiracy by malign actors. Perhaps not coincidentally, the indictment comes when Trump has begun to forcefully oppose the NATO war against Russia in Ukraine, serving as a diversion away from his legitimate criticism of other aspects of the U.S./Biden/neocon foreign policy.
It is also fair to question why he was indicted for what seems at worst a personal indiscretion, when his predecessors in the White House have been guilty of much more serious crimes, with far more devastating consequences, such as launching the Iraq war based on lies, torture of prisoners in Iraq and Gitmo, lying about mass surveillance, or Obama’s signing off on drone attacks which repeatedly killed civilian noncombatants, just to name a few examples.
In the highly polarized climate of U.S. politics, there are fears that this trial could unleash violence far beyond the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Some believe that this is, in fact, the intent of his indictment. Whatever happens with this case in the months ahead, it is likely that, instead of ending the Trump era of U.S. politics, a new chapter is coming into being.