This isn’t the end of Trump – it’s his golden opportunity


This indictment against the former president turns him into a martyr, destabilising the United States

Tim Stanley

31 March 2023 • 6:00pm

The indictment of Donald Trump is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in US politics, and I lived through Rick Perry. If the plan was to bring the Trump phenomenon to a decisive end, it will probably have the opposite effect. This might be the twist that launches a compelling second act.

The moral argument to prosecute is strong. No one is above the law; if the New York grand jury does believe a president, any president, did something wrong, he/she should be held accountable. And there’s a tasty irony in the fact that Trump won the election in 2016 promising to “lock her up” (ie, Hillary Clinton) at the same time as he was allegedly committing crimes that might lead to conviction.

But if the goal is to re-normalise American politics and reassert constitutional standards, it’s a total own-goal. Trump will be tried in the court of public opinion; his supporters will argue that the case will likely lean on the evidence of Michael Cohen, a man convicted for lying.

Trump suddenly looks like a martyr, hounded by the Left in a city borough that voted 80 per cent for Joe Biden. The district attorney who green-lit the indictment, Alvin Bragg, is notorious for preferring not to prosecute so-called “low level” misdemeanours such as prostitution or fare-dodging. It all plays into populist narratives of big-city decadence and hypocrisy, and Trump, who was looking a little “low energy” until now, is revived.

His ability to dominate the media had been weakening; now he will be a permanent headline. Republican primary voters had just begun to consider sober alternatives; now the base will be whipped up and even his opponents will feel compelled to put in a good word.

Mike Pence, the former vice-president who has just been told he must appear before a separate inquiry into the January 6 riots, called this development “an outrage”. Ron DeSantis has said he will block any attempt to extradite him from Florida.

Even if Trump is convicted, he can still run for the White House again. We are entering unknown territory, but the only things that technically prevent a person from serving as president are age, birthplace and residence. In theory, he could do the job from a prison cell. One can just imagine Trump conducting an interview with Fox News over a payphone, the sounds of a riot perceptible in the distance.

“I’m having a great time here, Sean. It’s a beautiful prison filled with many great American patriots. And they love me, they really do. White Power Mike said he’d never seen someone do so many push-ups. I did 12, 14 – maybe a thousand.”

And what is the establishment going after him on? What did it deem worth destabilising their country for? From what we can make out, it’s the smallest, most tawdry allegation imaginable: business fraud committed in relation to paying hush money to a porn star (all of which Trump denies, including the alleged affair).

So, maybe putting a president on trial feels like a thrilling blow for democracy, but it also sets a precedent that erodes faith in the system. Since Bill Clinton, there’s been a trend towards trying to overturn election results you don’t like by hitting the winner with legal action, digging into the recesses of their private life if necessary.

The goal is to make it impossible to govern, to push your opponent from the arena. There was not just one attempt to impeach Trump, but two.

And yes, this indictment comes after he has left office, but in the context of a fresh election round, it will be characterised as a first strike to cripple the Republicans, weaponising the justice system and singling out a candidate who threatens the elite.

This indictment drives US politics further into the mud, which is where Donald Trump thrives.


  1. If the DA has evidence rising to the threshold for a charge, a DA may charge. It’s that simple. And it’s 100% constitutional. To say differently is just a play to build the feelings of persecution that some like to create.

  2. Sir Scradge, please consider that our theme here is Ukraine Today when making selections for your posts. I know its easy to let TDS take over your life but your doctor will thank you for it and so will your readers 😉 If people want to get their daily dose of hatred, smears and anonymous sources they can go to a million other places and we should stick with Ukraine don’t you think?

    • Trump, his family, his friends, business associates and political supporters in the GOP all work for the interests of Russia. Trump does this either voluntarily, for financial gain or because of kompromat.
      The article is an opinion piece by a highly respected conservative journalist. All articles in the DT are behind a paywall which I pay for; partly for my own interest and partly for the readers of this site. The DT remains the most consistently pro-Ukraine of any conservative site that I know of. The articles that come out on an almost daily basis are often brilliant; in terms both of straight news reporting and op-ed’s. So I would have thought that this is a pretty useful service I provide to UT readers.
      If Trump ceases to be a presidential contender, he will be just another piece of genocide-promoting putinoid scum like Carlson, which will remain a matter of deep concern to all Ukrainians and all people who wish Ukraine to be a free and peaceful independent unitary state.
      But at the moment, Trumpkov is way out in front of all the other GOP contenders, so is of critical interest to those who might want to read the articles on this site.
      As you are the owner, you are free to delete articles that you don’t like.
      I seldom disagree with you about anything concerning Ukraine. Except for your affliction with reverse TDS. It is sad that you continue to support, or even admire Trump, since his opinion of Ukraine consists of blind hatred. See the books of Kurt Volker and and John Bolton for word-for-word reports of his private comments.
      As for Trump’s opinion of putler and Russia, it is in the public domain. He is revealed to be far more extreme than Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne, George Galloway, Philip Sachs, his creepy pal Nigel Farage, Rand Paul, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, another pal: Michael Savage and even Tucker Carlson.
      The Trump “peace plan” consists of the gifting to putler of 20% of Ukraine, no reparations and no war crimes trials.
      The time is long overdue for you to study Trump’s track record on Ukraine since Feb 2022 and recognise exactly who and what he is.

      • I agree that this doesn’t really belong here. But I also agree that anyone who thinks that Trump is a friend of Ukraine is a fool.

      • You certainly have a great imagination Sir Scradge. I know he has said some stupid, ignorant things about Ukraine but you forget all the things he has done for Ukraine too. That is a sign of TDS. Let’s try to keep this site about Ukraine.

  3. “If the plan was to bring the Trump phenomenon to a decisive end”

    No, the plan is to bring a criminal to justice.

    “The moral argument to prosecute is strong. No one is above the law; if the New York grand jury does believe a president, any president, did something wrong, he/she should be held accountable.”

    So, there you go. Indicting people for falsifying business records is something Bragg’s office does all the time.

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