The Indictment of Trump: What Can Come From This Media Circus?

Trump arrives at court, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York on charges related to falsifying business records in a hush money investigation. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Yesterday, Donald Trump was charged with 34 felony counts for falsifying business records around hush money payments to a porn star seven years ago. The media has gone into a frenzy over this indictment, but much of it seems like a big distraction rather than a significant case against Trump.

Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, has testified that he in fact paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 so that she would not go public before the 2016 election about her sexual involvement with Trump back in 2006. Cohen claims he was then reimbursed by Trump for the $130,000 through payments made in 2017.

The case presented against Trump is actually rather weak from a legal standpoint. There is little doubt that Trump did order Cohen to pay Daniels to keep quiet, but paying someone to remain silent about sexual involvement, or paying for someone’s story not to be published, isn’t even illegal, and it happens all the time among the wealthy elite. All sorts of wealthy sexual predators, from Harvey Weinstein to Bill Cosby, are known to have often paid their victims to keep quiet — and as sickening as this is, it is totally legal. And it is also not illegal for politicians to lie about their personal behavior during an election campaign. Imagine if it were illegal for politicians to lie and they were actually prosecuted for this — there wouldn’t be a single politician roaming the streets.

The prosecutor and the Democrats are trying to claim that this hush money counts as election fraud because it influenced the 2016 election, claiming that by hiding the payments they concealed what they claim is “damaging information” from the voters. But would this information that Trump had an affair with a porn star back in 2006 actually have been damaging information to voters?

Trump has violated countless laws throughout his life in his businesses and as President, but he has always been able to use his financial power to protect himself against any serious charges. By the time of the hush money payment to Daniels, Trump had already been shown to have all sorts of fraudulent business dealings. And he was caught on tape openly admitting that he liked to walk up to women and sexually assault them in public. He was campaigning on openly racist claims about immigrants and Muslims. It didn’t matter that he is a sexual predator — his portrayal as a political outsider, and his blatant nationalism and white supremacy were popular in some sections of the population. And remember, he was running against Hillary Clinton, who was rightfully associated with all of the crimes of the Democratic Party under the Bill Clinton and Obama administrations — from Clinton’s attacks on poor people under the guise of so-called “welfare reform,” as well as his leadership of NATO’s bombing of civilians in the Kosovo war, to Obama’s enormous bail out of Wall Street banks, massive cuts to social services, war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, and much more. It is doubtful the election would have been flipped from this revelation about another one of Trump’s sexual encounters.

In fact, these are not even the most serious allegations that Trump could be charged with. There have been many women who’ve alleged that Trump sexually assaulted them. In Georgia, Trump attempted to get the attorney general to overturn the election results in the state by “finding” votes for him. He’s been found to have stolen and hoarded secret, classified documents. And what happened to the Democrats and their January 6 investigation of Trump’s role in the attempt to block the 2020 election and stay in power?

The reality is the Democrats are desperately trolling for votes. They hope that Trump being saddled with various court cases will weaken his election chances, and support the Democrats. It will certainly keep Trump and his attorneys busy in court, but it seems very unlikely that this will deny Trump from running for president or weaken his base of support. Trump’s big donors have reportedly given him over $4 million dollars in the first 24 hours after the indictment was announced. And there is no sign that his base of support has decreased from this indictment. Trump has been doing what he always does, denying all charges, claiming he is a victim of the Democrats, and even encouraging violence against the court officials and their families that are prosecuting him.

The Democrats are desperate because they have nothing to show for the last two years of the Biden administration — except for empty promises and a continued march to the right. As a candidate, Biden promised to protect the environment and block any new fossil fuel projects on federal land. Instead, as President, he has expanded drilling on federal land, recently approving a massive project in Alaska, and has increased offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Biden campaigned as a so-called pro-worker president, but last year Biden and the Democrats, united with Republicans, used Congress to impose a pro-company and unsafe contract on railroad workers, and blocked them from striking. After promising to defend immigrants and critiquing Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, Biden has maintained these very same policies and added more aggressive ones, which has led to a record number of deportations of migrants at the southern border. These anti-immigrant policies are directly responsible for the recent death of 40 migrants in a fire at a detention center in Mexico. Biden recently joined with many Republicans and some Democrats to overturn an anti-racist law in Washington D.C. The Biden administration didn’t hesitate to bail out the banks in the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, even as the government has cut millions of families off of food assistance and Medicaid, all while the cost of living has skyrocketed. As right-wing Republicans and the courts criminalize abortion, eliminate abortion access, and target the LGBTQ population across the country, the Democrats sit back and criticize from the sidelines while doing nothing. And meanwhile, the Democrats continue to pursue an aggressive policy to demonize China, threatening the risk of a wider conflict.

This trial of Trump is supposed to be a gift to Democratic voters, who rightfully despise Trump and the racist, sexist, far-right agenda that he stands for. But in reality, the Democrats just hope that press coverage of Trump’s many legal woes will distract people from their blatant betrayals of the population and their obvious commonalities with the Republican Party — because, just like the Republicans, the Democrats have nothing to hold up as real victories for working people. Ultimately, the Democrats uphold the very same system as the Republicans.

War crimes, mass murder, environmental destruction, exploitation of workers and the poor all over the world, blatant denial of human rights — these are the real crimes for which Republican and Democratic leaders should be charged. The very system they defend is nothing more than a massive assault on all working people and the environment that we depend on for survival.

At the same time, the Republicans are pursuing an aggressive far-right agenda. But the Democrats continue to do nothing to stop this. And this trial of Trump certainly will not stop this. It doesn’t matter whether the attacks on working people are coming from Republican or Democratic politicians. These attacks cannot be defended in their courts or in the ballot box — they stem from the whole system that is arrayed against us. And only when we unite our forces in our workplaces, our neighborhoods and in the streets can we defend our own interests.