After a lifetime of surviving close calls and acting with impunity, could it be that Donald Trump is finally about to be held accountable for his actions?
Media reports indicate that Trump has been indicted once again—this time in relation to the Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation. The news is also historic in itself: this time, Trump will be a federal defendant, having been charged by the Justice Department.
Politically, it’s unclear whether this latest development will hurt or help Trump. He’s already using the event to fundraise and inspire his base, who see him as a victim. And already, Trump is referring to the indictment as “the Boxes Hoax” on Truth Social, while saying he’s “INNOCENT,” and insisting that “THEY’RE NOT COMING AFTER ME, THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOU—I’M JUST STANDING IN THEIR WAY!”
These sound like the ravings of an hysterical man who has always skated, yet may slowly be realizing that he could actually be held accountable—either legally or electorally. Clearly, Trump still doesn’t get that we live in a society of laws, or that such a thing as the rule of law applies to him. He soon might.
Still, there’s nothing about an indictment—or even a conviction—that would prevent him from running for president (although court appearances will likely keep him off the campaign trail for much of the 2024 primary campaign).
Trump’s first indictment out of Manhattan seemed to have ironically boosted his support among Republicans, inspiring once-and-possibly-future allies to circle the wagons. Indeed, the indictment seemed to halt the polling momentum that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was gaining on the former president.
This second indictment comes on the heels of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence entering the Republican primary, raising the prospect that there will be a second “rally around Trump” effect that could prevent this latest wave of Republican primary rivals from making gains.
If that doesn’t happen—or if the Trump boomlet is short-lived—it will be because this is a much more serious charge than the Manhattan District Attorney’s indictment having to do with payments to Stormy Daniels, and that Trump really has no good defense.
It seems very clear that Trump took classified documents and then refused to return them. Moreover, early reports are that this will be a “speaking indictment,” which means details of the charges will be included in the indictment and entered in the public domain. The more serious nature of these charges could cause political problems for Trump in a way that the Bragg indictment did not.
But if Trump does manage to pull off yet another Harry Houdini act in the legal realm, it will probably be because the trial will be in Florida, which is where the crime occurred. This is obviously a much better venue for Trump than, say, liberal Manhattan.
Anyone who has watched Trump closely has to realize that he is an escape artist, and that whenever someone says “the walls are closing in on him” they aren’t.
The culture of New York real estate allowed him to escape accountability for years, and then being president made him essentially above the law. Whether it’s his “perfect call” with Ukraine’s president or his incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his pattern is to call accusations a “hoax” or a “witch hunt.” This latest indictment is no exception.
And then, once denial becomes untenable, Trump’s next move is to say that “other guys do it, too.”
Trump is trying out this move on Truth Social, saying, “Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.”
Never mind the fact that Joe Biden and other former officials like Mike Pence seemed unaware the documents existed, and immediately returned them when discovered, while Trump spent months refusing to give hundreds of documents back, and according to reports, some of the documents he had were highly sensitive.
Nobody should assume Trump has finally been brought to heel. He has nine lives, so to speak. But this indictment feels much more critical than Bragg’s indictment and more legally perilous that the E. Jean Carroll civil trial. Indeed, sources tell The New York Times: “The seven counts against the former president include conspiracy to obstruct, willful retention of documents and false statements.”
But it's the potential Georgia indictment (regarding his “perfect call” with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger) that will probably be the biggest of all. That’s the one where he’s attempting the coup. On tape.
Will this third indictment be “three strikes and you’re out”? Or might this second one do the trick? Stay tuned. Trump will have to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday, at 3 p.m.
That could be the beginning of the end for a career of criminality, or the beginning of another Trump escape act.