By Carmen Gentile
Laurie Arbeiter of We Will Not Be Silent stands amid Trump supporters outside E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C., where Trump was arraigned for his roles in the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection and other efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He is charged with conspiracies to defraud the US, obstruct an official proceeding, and violating the rights of American voters. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. // Photo by Allison Bailey / NurPhoto via AP
It was both a consequential moment in American history and just another day in the life of a former president whose mounting legal troubles seemingly nourish his toxic ego and serve to make him even more popular with his ardent/deluded political base.
The lead up to Trump’s arraignment in Washington, D.C., on charges he allegedly attempted to subvert American democracy during the 2020 presidential election was replete with an OJ Simpson-esque tracking of his motorcade from the airport to the courthouse and all the drummed-up TV legal drama cable outlets could muster for an event they couldn’t actually chronicle with cameras.
[Sidenote: that federal courts don’t allow cameras in the courtroom is outdated nonsense.]
However, once he appeared in court, Trump’s arraignment went off without much drama, other than a stern warning from Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya for the defendant regarding the conditions of his release pending trial:
“Mr. Trump, I ask you to listen carefully to the conditions. Your most important condition of release is that you not commit a state, federal or local offense. If so, your release may be revoked. You may also face a longer sentence for having committed a crime while on release. I will next set a court date. You may also face an additional criminal charge for failure to appear in court. I want to remind you it is a crime to intimidate a witness or retaliate against anyone for providing information about your case to the prosecution, or otherwise obstruct justice. Do you understand these warnings, sir?”
That the magistrate felt compelled to warn the former president against using mob-like tactics to intimidate the jury and witnesses speaks volumes about what we already know about Trump — this guy will do anything to stay out of prison, including run for president again.
His lawyers previously admitted as much, as noted by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman in the lead up to Trump’s most recent arraignment.
“And so, some of Trump’s advisers have been blunt, in private conversations, that he needs to win this election, because then the case can go away. Now, that’s a bit of a Hail Mary, if you’re betting, on winning an election, as a way of dealing with an indictment. But we are in an unprecedented situation.”
Think about that for a second.
The American presidency, the nation’s top job and arguably the most important on the planet, is being pursued by a thrice-indicted former game show host who faces trial for allegedly trying to steal the last election and wants to be president again so he can pardon himself.
Now ask yourself: Is this who we are?
I’m loath to admit that the answer is: Yes.
In a moment of bitter irony, Trump perfectly summed up the sadness of the day’s events and the state of our union in the face of this grim realization.
“It’s a very sad day for America,” he said while standing on the tarmac before boarding his private plane emblazoned with the American flag that whisked him back to his New Jersey golf club following the arraignment.
You’re damn right it is.
Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets, including The New York Times, USA TODAY, CBS News, and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Marcella S. Kreiter
By Carmen Gentile