Donald Trump’s historic indictment on Thursday will likely only add rocket fuel to his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
For months he will be able to accuse Democrats of weaponising the legal system, and a mugshot could become the most effective fundraising tool he has ever had.
Even before Mr Trump has had his collar felt, Republicans of all stripes are already rallying behind him, condemning a potential prosecution as politically motivated.
Republican-led committees in Congress are launching investigations into Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor bringing charges over a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
They are accusing Mr Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, and an elected Democrat, of an unprecedented abuse of power.
Even Ron DeSantis, after some delay, saw which way the wind was blowing and has come out swinging against Mr Bragg, backing his rival Mr Trump.
As Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator and Trump ally, put it: “The prosecutor in New York has done more to get President Trump elected than any single person. Mr Bragg, you have helped Mr Trump, amazingly.”
Meanwhile, many Democrats, rather than feeling triumphant at the prospect of seeing Mr Trump in handcuffs, are now urging Mr Bragg to “step back from the brink”.
Why has prosecutor resurrected ‘zombie case’?
The scenario might be different if Mr Bragg had a stronger case to bring.
But the hush money payment has been repeatedly kicked into touch by other prosecutors for the last seven years.
It was so dead that, when Mr Bragg recently resurrected it, other prosecutors called it the “zombie case”.
A frustration for Democrats is that Mr Trump has other legal entanglements which, it is widely believed, could carry a greater chance of conviction.
Chief among them is an investigation in Georgia into Mr Trump’s involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election result.
Prosecutors there are considering charges of racketeering and conspiracy but will take time to reach a decision.
One senior Democrat said: “Lawyer after lawyer will tell you this [the hush money payment] is the weakest case out there.”
Mr Bragg, 49, would doubtless say that no one is above the law, which must be prosecuted to the letter, without fear or favour.
But that argument is problematic for him, too.
He came into office on Jan 1, 2022 announcing he would not prosecute some crimes, including resisting arrest, trespassing and, in some cases, prostitution.
Mr Trump’s supporters are asking why the District Attorney is not going after those offenders, and instead targeting a Republican ex-president for an obscure financial misdemeanour.
David Urban, a former Trump campaign adviser, said: “Why, seven years later? I think if you’re going to indict the president, you better be able to convict the president. The DA should look deep in the mirror and ask himself that question.
“If the DA swings and misses here, any subsequent indictments on more serious crimes may be overlooked by the Trump base.”
The case against Trump
Mr Bragg’s inquiry centres on the $130,000 paid before the 2016 election to stop Ms Daniels going public about an alleged affair, which Mr Trump denies.
Regardless of what Mr Bragg’s motives are, it would be easy for Mr Trump has already started to portray himself as a victim of political “persecution”, engendering sympathy from otherwise unsupportive moderate Republicans.
Notably, it has been Mr Trump, not Mr Bragg, publicising that he was about to be arrested.
The former president had seemingly called the prosecutor’s bluff, until he became the first in history to be indicted on criminal charges.
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