Thirty-four Felony Charges is a Lot of Felony Charges

It wasn’t on quite the same level as the joy I experienced when Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency in 1974, but I do admit a gleeful grin broke out on my face when I heard Donald Trump had finally been indicted for something and would be arraigned in the coming week. How could anyone but the man’s disciples do anything else but be just a little bit happy? It’s not like I think he’ll face a day in prison. Hell, he might even be able to beat the charges. If not, I figure that his lawyers will work out a deal where he walks away, his bank accounts still intact and his ego still overblown. The courts are, after all, designed to let criminals with Trump’s clout walk free. Still, it was fucking gratifying to see the headline in the New York Times the Friday after the indictment was announced. Really tall and bold font declaring TRUMP INDICTED. After years of speculation and doubt that such a thing would ever happen, a prosecutor finally did their job and busted the fascist clown. Of course, I hope it’s just the opening act in what might be a drama worthy of Shakespeare. Or maybe not. Maybe it will be more like a well-written episode of Law and Order, that crime shows that never goes off the air in the USA.

Predictably, the Trump social media machine tweeted, posted or whatever a typical message blaming the radical left democrats for the indictment and promised their defeat. Donald Trump will return to make America great again and so on. Of course, we know there are no radical left Democrats in the United States. Indeed, there are probably Democrats afraid that calling for Trump’s conviction would be a bad political move. Neither party gives a rat’s ass about justice, only money. The established elites that span both major parties are hopeful the element of the ruling class represented by Trump can be stifled so they can get back to their usual business of war and exploitation. However, the last few years have proven that they can live with the power he seems to represent. Hell, some members of the ruling elites have cast their lot in with him as much as the fools who are sitting in prison because they answered Trump’s call to stop the steal. The indictment is only political because Trump is a politician. Otherwise, it would just be about another crooked businessman who finally got caught and the world would yawn.

As I watched the television coverage of Trump’s arrival at the Manhattan courthouse I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the cops standing around to maintain order among the Trumpist zealots are Trumpist zealots themselves. Somehow, I don’t think the NYPD is going to be driving cars through those protests as they did during the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Meanwhile, some on the so-called Left are diminishing these charges, not understanding that the only time justice works quickly is when the cops, the prosecutors and the judge want to throw a poor person in jail. Furthermore, the Left should be happy the courts are finally going after a wealthy criminal of Trump’s unworthy stature. While I understand those who argue this is not really something the Left should be concerned with, it seems foolish to ignore it. We should not be choosing sides for or against Trump but should see this as a moment when we can potentially help exacerbate the split in the ruling class this series of investigations and criminal cases represents. It seems pretty clear that there is an ongoing crisis in US capitalism and the manipulations of the electoral system and the legal system are two arenas where the ruling class is fighting it out.

These attempts to minimize the crimes Trump is charged with in this indictment are class-based. So-called white-collar crimes like those in the indictment are often presented as less criminal than other crimes in the mainstream media, in large part because they’re committed by business people, politicians and government hacks. In actuality, the nature of such crimes is no different than a strong-arm robbery, while the effect on society is often much greater. Trump seems to believe he did nothing wrong; that his fraud and other illegal practices are just clever business. I bet lots of other business people agree with him. Hell, I remember guys who used to walk through my parents’ neighborhood offering deals on new roofs to the homeowners. They would take a down payment and never be heard from again. Of course, we should not be surprised his crimes are being minimized—this is a nation that has never considered its wars and the acts committed in those wars to be crimes. What’s a little bit of fraud and election manipulation?

The Trumpist swamp is rising up again. Swamp gases permeate the airwaves while rats and water snakes show their faces on the TV, spouting lies their leader encourages to save his own ass. William Barr, Roger Stone, Marjorie Taylor Greene; all hoping to get another fifteen minutes of ill-gotten fame. The addiction to the spotlight Trump provides is too great to ignore no matter what their last words were about the human caricature they can’t stop kowtowing to. Meanwhile, the excuses and what ifs from the Trumpist media regarding the charges Trump faces remind me of a street hustler who conned you and when you run into them again they try to convince you that it was a misunderstanding and the hustler is really an honest man who didn’t mean to take your money and never come back. I know the media is lying. They know they’re lying just like they knew after the 2020 Trump defeat, but they’re pathological in this regard. They can’t stop lying. The money coming in is just too easy. Trump world is full of suckers with cash they can’t help giving away to the Trump cause..Trump might even know it’s a lie. Or he is just fuckin’ delusional.

Trump’s arrival in New York the afternoon of April 3, 2023, was uneventful. Just black SUVS, secret service agents, media hoping for a glimpse and a story; the same old media shots. It could have been Joe Gotti or Richard Nixon. The difference being neither of those men had a tower with their name on it in Manhattan. The entire image is pretty stark proof that there are different sets of laws for different sets of people in this most capitalist of nations. The verdict returned in this and whatever future trials may prove that even more starkly. The fact Trump will probably never see the inside of a prison cell—even one of the fancy ones—is even starker proof. Never mind the fact he can get prime-time coverage after the arraignment to tell his lies to the nation. God bless the USA.

It’s almost noon on April 4, 2023. Trump’s arraignment will most likely occur after the court has lunch. Marjorie Taylor Greene is riling up the trumpists in the streets outside the courthouse. Her comments to the small crowd are quoted in the New York Times: “We’re the party that wants to protect the lives of the unborn, we’re the party of male and female, two genders only,” said Ms. Greene, who had been invited to Manhattan by the New York Young Republican Club, the friends of the Proud Boys. “We’re the party of secure borders. We’re the party that will bring peace to the world like President Trump did, not World War III, like Joe Biden is doing.” The claims about genders are true but irrelevant to most people outside of that part of the US that doesn’t take pride in its sexual repression while often fulfilling their kinks in secret. As for the secure borders claim—Joe Biden is essentially as reactionary as Trump on this count. Both men have many broken families and even deaths on their hands because of Washington’s border policies. Regarding the warmongering of Biden, Ms. Greene conveniently forgets the military actions undertaken while Trump was in the White House. The murder of General Suleiman of Iran was the most dangerous of the lot, but rest assured the US empire did not retreat while Trump was in office. This doesn’t mean Joe Biden is not more of a warmonger than Trump was. My point is that the empire’s foreign policy establishment—from Raytheon to General Dynamics to the Pentagon to the White House and clowns in Congress—does not operate on a four-year schedule. It treks forward on its mission of full spectrum dominance no matter what party or person is in the White House. Republicans have waged wars big and small, proxy and in-country just like the Democrats have. The United States is addicted to war. Its economy depends on the manufacture and sale of machines of death. The will to change this fact does not exist in Congress, Wall Street or any other power centers in the nation.

In truth, nothing that Greene says in that quote has a thing to do with the fact their leader is getting charged with a series of criminal acts. Her opportunism is as obvious as her public personality is odious and vile. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in D.C. just denied an emergency petition by his lawyers to stop a group of his top aides from testifying in the grand jury investigating the January 6th melee and the stop the steal campaign. If she’s lucky, Greene might be able to get her name on on indictment in that episode of Trump’s crime spree. She can’t seem to help herself as she compares Trump to Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ.

As he left his tower, he pumped his fist in the air. Then, with a few dozen law enforcement types all around him (to protect him not to arrest him) he got in his car and headed downtown. Like I said before, a bit different from those arrested protesting police brutality a couple years ago. God knows how a regular resident is treated when the police take them in. If it’s anything like my experience in other cities, there’s never a reason to smile even when you know it’s a bullshit arrest. The indictment is unsealed. Limited reportage from the courtroom right now. The media will argue for greater access.

Trump is charged with thirty-four felonies. It’s unlikely that this arrest is bullshit.

The arrogance of one man’s wealth has been challenged. However, the truth of whether his wealth will prevent his paying a price for it lies in a future verdict, not in the fact of his arrest.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: