GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 725, 20 August 2023

Trump is indicted yet again: What next for politics in the US?
Ankit Singh

What happened?
On 14 August, Donald Trump with 18 of his associates in the then government was indicted on state racketeering and conspiracy charges in efforts to reverse election results in Georgia by grand jury of the Georgia state. The indictment mentioned that Trump and his co-defendants knowingly and wilfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favour of Trump.

Trump’s legal team pointing to the expansive racketeering law of Georgia said: “A proposed indictment should only be in the hands of the district attorney’s office. Yet it somehow made its way to the clerk’s office and was assigned a case number and a judge before the grand jury even deliberated. This is emblematic of the pervasive and glaring constitutional violations.”

Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the US House, said: “Now a radical [district attorney] in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham.”

What is the background?
First, multiple cases against Trump. This indictment is the fourth indictment in order, the other being, Classified documents case in Florida in which Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial is scheduled for May 2024, the Hush-money case in New York in which Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial is scheduled for March 2024, 6 January case in Washington in which Trump pleaded not guilty, next hearing on 28 August. One defamation lawsuit by E Jean Carroll in New York is expected to be tried in January 2024, while Jean Carroll has been awarded USD 5 million in a separate defamation lawsuit.

Second, Trump’s responses to the juridical indictments and counter-responses. Trump has shown his intent to contest for the presidency again and mentioned that such indictments are efforts to damage his chances of being elected for a second term. He has maintained that Justice Department is being weaponised, he is seen as the greatest threat by the Democrats and he has rallied support from other Republicans. After he got indicted in a classified documents case, he said: “I promise you this: If you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again.” His Republican opponents have chosen to say nothing publicly while former runner for President, Hillary Clinton commented that it was a terrible moment for democracy in America.

Third, the undermining of institutions by Trump. Trump has alleged that there was voter fraud in Georgia, and he has been quoted in media in asking the secretary of Georgia to find enough votes for him. It is not just the federal government but state government institutions that are exercising their writ to bring Trump to accountability as he used his influence to undermine migration rights, abortion rights and gender-inclusive policies. He has been using his popularity and mass support to question US Judicial system. He has other-ised not just Republicans but the entire administration to legitimize himself.

What does it mean?
First, Trump is cornered, republicans maybe not. Trump has four indictments against him now and he is likely to be arrested. He may even face disqualification from contesting for presidential elections again. However, this can open up capturing of voters by other Republican front runners. Media reports have indicated that with every indictment, the Republican elite has poured more money into electoral campaigns like De Santis, Mike Pence and Nikki Hailey. The cornering of the former president will leave a bitterly politically divided US.

Second, Biden and his administration will continue looking for a different narrative. The silence from democrats signals that they are betting on Bidenomics, which is based on targeting inflation, transition to renewables and more affordable healthcare. The Republicans have relied on campaigning on political issues while Democrats would continue to vouch for economic recovery and increased employment for Americans.

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