Trump was arraigned on Tuesday on 37 separate counts 37 criminal counts, over his handling of classified information, including willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.
Predictable, some high-profile Republicans have rallied to Trump’s defense. “Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump.”
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who sought to overturn Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election based on no evidence of widespread fraud, tweeted: “If the people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we don’t have a republic.” Other leading Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune, have remained silent.
For his part, Trump is resorting to his usual posture of portraying himself as the unjustly persecuted victim by a hostile deep state determined to destroy him. “I AM AN INNOCENT MAN,” Trump declared on his Truth Social site, in his signature DEFCON 1, all-caps mode minutes after announcing his indictment. “THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS TOTALLY CORRUPT. THIS IS ELECTION INTERFERENCE & A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME.”
Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. However, in the case of Trump, the likelihood of being innocent seems to diminish on a daily basis. His arrogant, devious, brash and defiant behavior does little to dispel such assumptive notions among rational minded citizens.
Trump is largely the victim of his own making. First and foremost, why he had taken mounds of boxes containing classified information to his Mar-a -Lago residence is still baffling. There are those on the right who shout cries of “double standard “and “hypocrisy,” pointing to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and Mike Pence.
Such comparisons have no weight to them. Neither Clinton, Biden or Pence willfully retained or refused to return such documents when ordered to do so. They did not attempt to originate bogus rationales, engage in blatant acts of deception, or openly defy the law. Nor did Biden, Clinton, or Pence lie to authorities or engage in similar forms of obstructive activities. Trump, on the contrary, deliberately attempted to deceive government officials.
Many establishment Republicans, including backers of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are still hopeful that Trump’s mounting legal woes will cause more so-called pragmatic Republican voters to come to their senses, turn the corner and see the light.
For Trump’s diehard MAGA supporters, this latest indictment will likely further embolden their support of their leader. This latest prosecutorial act will likely reinforce what deeply held suspicions they already held about the supposed deep state. That is a group of well-educated sophisticated, intellectual elites who harbor a deep disdain for rank-and-file Americans.
The former president has been masterful in convincing this segment of voters that the mainstream media and assorted elites have a searing disdain toward them, and that he is the only one who cares about them, is aware of their concerns and has their best interests at heart. The question is whether his base will continue to embrace such a misguided fallacy.
Time will tell.
Elwood Watson Ph.D. is a professor of history, Black Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is a cultural critic and author of the book, Keepin’ It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America. https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/K/bo40060337.html (University of Chicago Press).