Trump loses control with new phase of legal peril
President Trump, who has spent his life ruthlessly maneuvering to get his way, now is at the mercy of a justice system he can't bully — and, ultimately, in the hands of a Manhattan jury.
Why it matters: Trump, after becoming the first president to be impeached twice, now has the added distinction of being the first ex-president to face criminal charges.
- The specific charges aren't public.
- CNN analyst John Miller — a former NYPD deputy commissioner with enviable law-enforcement sources — reports Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud.
- Each count could refer to a single document or even a single accounting entry, CNN analysts noted.
Trump is expected to turn himself in Tuesday, "at which point the former president will be photographed and fingerprinted in the bowels of a New York State courthouse, with Secret Service agents in tow," the N.Y. Times reports (subscription).
- "Trump has for decades avoided criminal charges despite persistent scrutiny and repeated investigations, creating an aura of legal invincibility" that was shattered yesterday.
- An NYPD spokesperson told Axios that every officer will report in full uniform today as a "precautionary measure" in response to the indictment.
Between the lines: Of all the investigations Trump faces, the case by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is viewed by most legal experts as the thinnest — unless the prosecutor has something surprising up his sleeve.
State of play: Most Republicans think this helps Trump in the short run — and could even provide a glide path to the '24 Republican nomination, Axios' Zachary Basu notes.
- This freezes the race at a time when Trump holds a huge lead in GOP polls. That's likely to grow with the saturation coverage ahead.
Indictment-themed GOP fundraising texts and emails started instantly, with Trump as a martyr.
- With Trump taking up all that oxygen, it'll be even harder for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — or any Trump '24 rival — to gain traction.
Every potential '24 Republican candidate is being forced to defend Trump, when they otherwise might be attacking him or trying to differentiate themselves.
- DeSantis tweeted that Bragg "is stretching the law to target a political opponent": "It is un-American. ... Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances."
- Mike Pence, in a prescheduled CNN interview, told Wolf Blitzer: "I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage."
The long run: For the general election, with suburban women as a potentially decisive bloc, it's a totally different story.
- An indicted (at least) standard-bearer isn't a great look for attracting swing voters.
Trump didn't seem to get much sleep. He posted at 2:46 a.m.: "WHERE'S HUNTER?"