On Thursday, March 30, Donald Trump faced an indictment from a Manhattan grand jury facing 34 counts in relation to falsifying business records. These charges mark the first time a former president of the United States has faced criminal charges.
“Given his track record,” said Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), “I had trouble imagining he would ever be held accountable.”
The charges being faced include a felony offense related to hush money payments from Trump to women, specifically porn star Stormy Daniels, during his 2016 campaign.
“The parties are very divided regarding perceptions of the indictment and the 34 counts,” said Dr. Gary Rose, a political science professor. “We have definitely entered a new era in our nation’s politics with this indictment.”
Trump attended his arraignment in a New York courthouse, the first arraignment of a former president in U.S. history. On April 4, Trump pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“What this means can be viewed in two ways,” said Rose. “Absolutely nobody is above the law, including the former president of the United States, or that the law is being used for political purposes for the purpose of diminishing the credibility of a major presidential candidate.”
Donald Trump’s lead defense attorney is Joe Tacopina, who spoke at Sacred Heart a few years ago. Trump has a legal team of many defense lawyers and claims he has nothing to conceal about the success of his multi-billion-dollar company.
“I believe his defense team is so talented that the charges might end up being dismissed,” said Rose. “I’m not suggesting that no crime was committed, but I am suggesting that he has an A+ set of lawyers representing him.”
Trump has chosen to utilize his Fifth Amendment right of refusing to answer any questions many times throughout this process.
A deposition was held in private on Thursday, April 13.
“I do not fully find the arrest to be in good faith,” said sophomore political science student Anna Macaulay. “I believe politics did play a role in the case against the former president and are attempts to deter him from his run for the presidency.”
Alvin Bragg is the district attorney in this case. According to The New York Times, he had never previously held office before last year, and he now finds himself in the spotlight of the case that is the first in history to involve a former president.
“Bragg has his work cut out for him,” said senior Jack Kurnik. “If he fails to convict the former president, the voters will show their skepticism of establishing political figures like Bragg by resoundingly responding in the ballot box come November 2024.”
Trump has explicitly declared that he is running for president in 2024. He has said that he finds this lawsuit to be ridiculous and another election interference case that has been brought against him.
The next step in this process is a trial, where Trump’s lawyers must prove that he is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This process can take several months, his next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.
“His followers will remain committed… In fact, they are even more committed because of this,” said Rose. “Millions of dollars are now flowing to his campaign because of this indictment, it could very well help him win the Republican party’s nomination for President.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.