*Also listen to the audio version of this article on Spotify HERE.
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s two sons were foaming at the mouth in outrage over the Manhattan grand jury’s decision last Thursday to charge their father with more than 30 counts of criminal misconduct, arising from alleged sexual activity with porn star Stormy Daniels.
‘This is third-world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.’
‘I love my father and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both. I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.’
Was she outraged by the indictment? Did she support her father? Is he innocent of the charges? Apparently, no, no and no.
Responses by political party
Inside the USA, reactions to the charging announcement were divided largely along partisan lines. Virtually all Democrats and Independents, along with some moderate Republicans, responded favourably — no citizen is above the law; the USA does not have a king.
The pro-Trump MAGA Republicans, in contrast, decried the charges as politically-motivated. The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, said “the American people will not tolerate this injustice” which he claimed was an “unprecedented abuse of power” by the Manhattan prosecutor.
“They’re trying to drain him dry. He’s spent more money on lawyers than most people spent on campaigns. Go tonight. Give the president some money to fight this bullshit!”
These do not surprise. Republican officeholders all know that about one-third of party members are fanatical Trumpists. The support of that cohort is essential for preselection and eventual re-election.
This group is also particularly susceptible to appeals for money. Trump himself bragged on Saturday that his social media messages earned him US$4 million (A$5.97 million) in donations in the first 24 hours after Thursday’s indictment and millions more since.
The likely impact of the charges on Trump’s presidential campaign were well analysed by colleague Martin Hirst here on Saturday. Hirst believes ‘his star is fading, even amongst his once loyal fan base’. This column agrees.
Reactions from heads of state
There has been deathly silence on the charges against Trump from global leaders, with the exception of Mexico’s President López Obrador. Obrador observed before Thursday’s announcement that a Trump indictment could be an attempt to prevent his re-election. This was interpreted by Newsweek as support for Donald Trump, although other interpretations are possible.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept quiet, in contrast to his public support for Trump during the 2019 impeachment hearing. No other national leader has commented yet, as far as this column has discerned.
World media reportage
Naturally, the charges against Trump have been front-page news worldwide. But coverage has varied significantly.
Unsurprisingly, Rupert Murdoch’s “news” outlets in Britain, Australia and the U.S. slanted their coverage to support Donald Trump.
Sky News in Australia used the subheading: ‘The former U.S. President has called the indictment “political persecution” and his lawyers have said they will “vigorously fight” it.’
Sky featured a spirited defence of Trump’s innocence by one of his current lawyers.
Britain’s Financial Times took a similar stance with a straight report of the facts in its first sentence and then this in its second:
‘”President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court,” his lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said in a statement.’
Fear of violence
Several reports highlighted the likelihood of political violence, as was seen in the 6 January 2021 insurrection.
The headline in the French language news outlet Radio France Internationale translates as:
‘Donald Trump criminally charged: “There is little doubt that his base will be remobilised”.’
The article quoted a Canadian academic.
Other outlets to mention violence included China’s Xinhua news agency which quoted instructions to ‘All uniformed members of the New York Police Department... to be prepared for deployment’.
Also in China, Sina Corporation’s finance journal focused on Trump’s money-making:
‘At present, the impact of Trump's indictment on the Presidential Election is unpredictable. On the one hand, the indictment could set back Trump's bid to return to the presidency... on the other hand... Trump immediately called on supporters to donate to his lawsuit.’
E Jean Carroll rape case update
Intriguing though the Stormy Daniels saga is, developments last week in another of Trump’s many legal battles are arguably much more important.
E Jean Carroll has taken civil action against Trump for an alleged rape in the late 1990s and for defamation in his subsequent denials.
Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan has made the rare decision to empanel an anonymous jury — which usually only happens in trials of Mafia bosses or terrorists. Kaplan has also ruled that the infamous Access Hollywood audio tape with the “grab 'em by the pussy” admission will be allowed as evidence and that any reference to DNA evidence will be disallowed.
The trial will combine both the rape claims and the defamation and commence on 25 April.
So how much coverage has Fox “News” given to Judge Kaplan's decisions? None at all.
Donald Trump remains a potent and destructive force in American politics. So does News Corp.
*This article is also available on audio here:
- Donald Trump the least of USA's problems
- Trump's indictment: How it will affect the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election
- Nothing strange or dangerous about Trump’s next criminal convictions
- Gaoling a president is a helluva challenge, but sometimes it has to be done
- The danger of a second Trump presidency still looms
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