Trump charged: what comes next?

Donald Trump has become the first former president of the US to be indicted on felony charges. He was arraigned in a New York court yesterday, charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with illegal campaign financing and hush money paid to ex-porn star Stormy Daniels. The press discusses whether the trial could end up working in Trump’s favour.

El País (ES) /

Not even a conviction could stop him

Trump is plunging the US into a crisis with his behaviour, El País laments:

“His arrival, the parade from Trump Tower and finally his appearance before the judge are a circus-like campaign performance, carefully orchestrated to attract attention, spark controversy and radicalise the election campaign as only Trump can do. ... Not even a conviction can prevent him from running for president in November 2024. ... With Trump back in office, the powers of the president would change: he would effectively be above the law and the constitution. ... And not even in the event of another defeat would the constitutional crisis inherent in Trump’s long march be resolved.”

Lluís Bassets
De Standaard (BE) /

Playing the victim is a bad election strategy

If Trump plans to use the accusations against him in his election campaign he could be in for an unpleasant surprise, De Standaard explains:

“Victimisation is a weak election strategy, even if it comes with a lot of noise. A far more important — although less exciting — factor is the economic results that outgoing President Joe Biden will be able to present in 2024. Here there is cautious optimism: the low unemployment rate of 3.4 percent will increase slightly this year due to temporary inflation, but a year from now Biden’s billion-dollar investments in climate and technology are expected to accelerate the economy. That’s the best way for Biden to respond to the Trump proceedings: keep quiet and work hard.”

Koen Vidal
Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Selective justice for political motives

In Radio Kommersant’s opinion, the US has gone off the rails:

“It had long been thought that selective justice was a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, and that the old familiar rule ‘to friends everything, to enemies the law’ applied elsewhere but not in democracies, of which the US is the flagship. The indictment of ex-president Donald Trump obliges us to reassess that claim. Everything is being done too crudely, deliberately, demonstratively and indelicately. The goal is to unsettle, destabilise, weaken and discredit the most dangerous candidate for the US establishment in the 2024 presidential election. And precisely now that the election campaign is effectively beginning, the judiciary is coming into play.”

Maxim Yusin
The Economist (GB) /

A mistake

It is by no means clear that this indictment will really hurt Trump and put off his supporters, The Economist warns:

“Anyone who thinks now is the moment when he finally gets his comeuppance will be sorely disappointed. If Mr Trump is to be prosecuted, it should be for something that cannot be dismissed as a technicality, and where the law is clearer. The Manhattan DA’s case looks like a mistake.”

Les Echos (FR) /

On the way up again

Trump is already benefiting, observes Les Echos:

“There was no better way to lift Trump back into the saddle. While such an indictment would doom the presidential candidate in other countries, it creates the ideal starting point for Trump to retake the White House. It returns him to a role in which he excels: that of the victim against whom the judges, the media and more generally the ‘system’ are lashing out. Over the month in which he’s been complaining about his legal troubles he’s regained eight percentage points among Republican voters, according to a recent poll. ... Donald Trump promised ‘total war’, ‘death’ and ‘destruction’ if indicted. Here we are.”

Lucie Robequain
Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Charges must be watertight

Kleine Zeitung warns:

“This case against the ex-president will further divide the already fractured US political landscape. The rifts will become deeper, the confrontations between the different social classes will intensify. There is no telling what could happen if even the smallest point of doubt, loopholes or even mistakes were to emerge in the indictment. The charges must be absolutely watertight. Otherwise the country could be left divided irrevocably and Donald Trump will emerge as a martyr.”

Maria Schaunitzer
Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Doing nothing is the riskiest course

The law must be respected even if the indictment initially benefits Trump in political terms, Dagens Nyheter stresses:

“He will be constantly in the spotlight. That’s a disturbing thought, but it can’t be helped. One can question the role of political parties in the appointment of key posts in the US legal system, one can warn of the potentially disastrous political consequences and point out that the indictment seems to be on a weak footing. But what’s the alternative? Not to prosecute Trump because he’s politically powerful? That idea should be even more frightening. Justice must take its course.”