Donald Trump during a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, June 6, 2024 (Ash Ponders/New York Times)

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EA on International Media: The Conviction of Donald John Trump on 34 Felony Counts

The New York trial and conviction of Donald Trump on 34 felony charges showed the world and the US electorate a different side of the former President and reality TV star.

In the courtroom, he was silenced, sullen, and sulky. Outside it, he was whingy and repetitive. This was less Trump the master of The Apprentice, and more a felon in denial.

Beyond the formal charges, Trump had been displayed as an immoral and shady man too tight-fisted to pay off Stormy Daniels with his own money, He did not have the foresight to recognize that using his company’s business expenses to do so could lead to problems.

He had been whacked on the bottom by Daniels with a magazine, with his face on the cover, during their 2006 sexual encounter. Eighteen years later, he had been humbled in public.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democratic chair of the Judiciary Courts Subcommittee, summarized, “It’s only in honest courtrooms that the former President has been unable to lie and bully his way out of trouble.”

“Slaves of The Law” or Slaves of Trump?

And still humiliation, if not a prison sentence, could lead to triumph.

Despite a court proceeding that highlighted to all the unadulterated Donald Trump, support for him and his brand of white nationalism appears to have been strengthened among his loyalists — some of whom took to the airwaves to parrot their master’s lies and disinformation.

The art of Trump’s deal is to embrace and channel the grievances of others, appearing to make them his own. It is not enough to deny criminal charges. Instead, he has to make himself the victim and turn the judge, district attorney, prosecutors, and witnesses into the defendants.

Beyond the 34 felonies — and the 54 counts that still await resolution — Trump has made this a battle for the entire US legal system. He is prepared to bring justice and the rule of law down — to save his neck, to claim power, and to wreak vengeance on his “enemies”.

That alone is a fundamental threat to the idea of America as a constitutional Republic. But even more consequential is the willingness of much of the Republican Party, in Congress and in the country at large, to embrace the narrative that Trump’s trial was an illegitimate witch hunt.

For Sen. Lindsey Graham, “This verdict said more about the system than the allegations.” House Speaker Mike Johnson tweeted:

Whether the Republican leadership believes this, repeats the mantras as an act of fealty to Trump, or does so from fear of being “primaried” out of office, they further corrode the impartial rule of law and undermine confidence and faith in the country’s democratic institutions. They enable the capture of the GOP by its radical populist elements.

From the outset of his Presidential bid in 2015, Trump refused to be bound by the rules and conventions of American democracy. He assured that he would only accept the result of the 2016 election if he won. He spent almost a decade attacking and undermining “the Lamestream Media”, so only 8% of conservatives expressed trust in
US media institutions in 2022.

Trump refused to accept the 2020 election outcome. He and his associates lied, filed more than 60 unsuccessful court cases, set up “false electors”, and pressured State legislators, governors, and the US Vice President. When this did not work, Trump tried to overturn the result by force on January 6, 2021.

So the conviction and 34 felonies should be no surprise. Yet rather than accept the danger among them, the Republican leadership and much of the US media have bowed down and kissed Trump’s ring. Doing so, they have further the divisions within American society and chipped away at its institutions.

Cicero wrote in the first century about the Roman Republic, “We are slaves of the law so that we may be free”. The GOP has replaced this with slavery to Donald Trump, with the prospect that none of us will be free from him in January 2025.