Today is the day. Former President Donald Trump has been arrested after surrendering at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York, where he will be arraigned on criminal charges.
Here is where you can get running commentary and analysis of the arraignment and what comes next. We will be providing commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and in the comments here.
Former President Donald Trump has now been charged with 34 more felonies than any president in American history. The previous record was zero.
As if to celebrate this ignominious accomplishment, Trump’s presidential campaign immediately released a fake mug shot of the one-term, twice-impeached and now indicted president on a fundraising email because, apparently, being charged with felonies for falsifying business records is cool. I guess it bumps the street cred among what Trump has often called “the forgotten men and women of our country.”
Read Trump’s indictment:Former President Donald Trump charged with crimes in New York
Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts which, given his proclivity for lying, is not the most reliable claim. Still, he’s innocent until proven guilty, so we’ll give him the same benefit of the doubt he has given Hillary Clinton, President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and all the other never-even-remotely-indicted people he has said should be immediately imprisoned.
– Rex Huppke, USA TODAY columnist
34 counts. All felonies. Donald Trump, only three years ago the most powerful person on the planet, is now arrested, charged and officially the most disgraced president in American history.
His presidential legacy is that he was more crooked and had less honor than Richard Nixon. As someone who grew up in the Watergate era, I didn’t think that was possible.
But Trump continues to lower the legal, ethical and moral standards for high office in this country.
I wish I felt outrage that our nation elected this man and that tens of millions of Americans seemingly still support him. Instead, I feel deep sadness for what America has become.
– Tim Swarens, USA TODAY Opinion deputy editor
Like many Americans and probably just people of the world, I’m watching the arraignment of Donald Trump play out.
These are all very important questions that are being asked and questions that news outlets will spend their day and week answering.
I’ll instead ask these questions:
Did you know that thousands of kids in Tennessee marched on their state Capitol because they’re tired of being afraid of dying at school?
Did you know that gas prices are about to go back up because of OPEC oil cuts?
Did you know that more than a dozen states will likely be at risk for severe weather and tornadoes?
Those are trick questions by me, tbh. I know you know. Because those are the things Americans are dealing with. Those are the things Americans need help with.
So by all means, let Trump feel the full balance and force of the legal system. It’s important. Just please remember that there is so much more happening that has a much bigger impact on our lives.
– Louie Villalobos, USA TODAY Opinion deputy editor
Donald Trump ought to be just an angry old man rattling and ranting around Mar-a-Lago while the rest of America and the world go about confronting the many serious problems we face.
But, of course, Trump has neither the decency nor the humility to simply fade away.
So, the sad and embarrassing spectacle of the arraignment of a former American president on criminal charges takes on more importance than it otherwise should because Trump, against all that is right and sane, may yet get the Republican presidential nomination next year.
And given the deep chasm of political polarization that separates Americans, Trump, like virtually any GOP nominee, would be favored to win a minimum of 25 states. Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin might then be all that stands between us and what should be an unfathomable nightmare.
Will the criminal charges brought against Trump by a grand jury and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg be enough to finally rid us of the Mar-a-Lago megalomaniac? I’m skeptical. The Trump dead-enders are beyond persuasion.
I want to believe that Trump is unelectable – and the last three national elections are strong evidence in favor of that conclusion. But I also fear that we as Americans may be forced to put that hope to the test next year, no matter what happens in a New York courtroom in the months ahead.
– Tim Swarens, USA TODAY Opinion deputy editor
The key word for everything surrounding this spectacle is “embarrassing.” Trump never came close to fulfilling his promise to make America great, but as the justice system finally catches up to him, he and those in his orbit have succeeded spectacularly at making America embarrassing.
Like President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Or think former President Richard Nixon and Watergate. Nixon was never charged with anything, but we certainly don’t take pride in his swath of presidential history. Trump’s situation is already far worse, and at least Nixon, unlike the Malcontent of Mar-a-Lago, was willing to do the right thing and go away.
– Rex Huppke, USA TODAY columnist
Trump indictment is embarrassing moment in US history:Trump’s entire presidency was ‘unprecedented.’ His arraignment is just plain embarrassing.
Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who now holds a bigger spotlight than any prosecutor since Donald Trump’s old nemesis Robert Mueller, will likely show his hand publicly for the first time on Tuesday with the unsealing of an indictment handed down last week by a grand jury.
A number of legal experts whom I’ve spoken with describe the case, based on what is now known publicly, as far from a slam dunk for prosecutors who are used to winning the vast majority of their cases.
Trump, of course, is facing other criminal investigations beyond Bragg’s office – an investigation by the district attorney in Atlanta over possible election interference in trying to overturn his election loss in the state in 2020; and a separate probe by Jack Smith, special counsel under the U.S. Justice Department, into Trump’s retention of classified documents after he left the White House and possible election interference.
Those investigations face their own legal hurdles if they are to be prosecuted. But Bragg, as the first one out the door, faces the most intense scrutiny, with Trump already attacking the prosecutor in ugly terms as an “animal” and raising the specter of violence from his prosecution.
With so much at stake, Bragg needs to get it right.
– Eric Lichtblau, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author
What is the evidence against Trump?:How strong is the case against Donald Trump? Why Alvin Bragg better get it right.
It’s possible to acknowledge that Democrats are overplaying their hand while also questioning why Trump keeps finding himself in these legal tangles. Don’t get me wrong. It seems pretty obvious that the Manhattan prosecutor is stretching the bounds of his office to make a name for himself, and many legal experts have questioned the soundness of the anticipated felony charges.
Since before Trump became president, Democrats have overplayed their hand with investigations and claims that have proved untrue. And it’s possible that if Trump is indeed charged in the hush money case, it will actually help him politically.
A recent poll showed the majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think they would have a better shot at winning the White House with someone other than Trump.
Yet Trump’s hardcore base has remained fairly constant, and a Democratic “witch hunt” could be just the thing to win him even more support.
Trump did some good things while president, including the appointment of three excellent Supreme Court justices. The reality at this point, however, is that he comes with too much baggage that he brought on himself, from the bizarre election denial in 2020 to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Despite the real political motivation behind these criminal investigations into Trump, at some point Republicans need to ask themselves hard questions about why it is he keeps finding himself in these sticky situations.
Isn’t it time to move on?
– Ingrid Jacques, USA TODAY columnist
Trump has overplayed his hand:Donald Trump wants you to think he’s constantly the victim. Maybe he’s just a bad dude.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will be prosecuting a case that has been widely criticized as long on politics and short on the law. And he will have an even more unpalatable prospect in putting two key witnesses on the stand embodying a case that borders on the legally indecent: a former porn star and a disbarred lawyer.
The star witness is one of the most repellent figures in New York. It is only the latest reinvention of Michael Cohen – this time from legal heavy to redemptive sinner. Cohen spent much of his time when he worked for Trump threatening critics, journalists and even students.
Cohen may be joined on the stand by Stormy Daniels, who agreed to a $130,000 payment to hush up an alleged affair with then-businessman Trump. Bragg would have to show that Trump made the payment only with the election in mind, which would have made the money an undeclared campaign donation to himself. But there are a host of other reasons why a married celebrity would want to hush up a one-night stand with a porn star.
In John Edwards’ prosecution in 2012, the Justice Department used the same theory to charge the former Democratic presidential candidate after a disclosure that he not only had an affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter but also sired a child with her. Edwards denied the affair, and it was later revealed that Fred Baron, Edwards’ campaign finance chairman, gave money to Hunter.
The Justice Department spent a king’s ransom on the case to show that the third-party payments were a circumvention of campaign finance laws, because the payments were designed to bury an election scandal. Edwards was ultimately found not guilty on one count while the jury deadlocked on the other five.
The jury clearly believed there were ample reasons to hush up the affair beyond the election itself.
One could say that Trump and Cohen deserve each other, but the legal system does not deserve what may soon unfold in a New York courtroom.
– Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University
Will Trump be arrested?:Between sketchy witnesses and the law, case comes up short.