You think Trump’s indictments are ‘historic?’ Wait and see what happens if he becomes president again
Amal Mudallali/ Arab News:
Washington is using the word “historic” a lot these days. Last week, for example, two “historic” events happened on the same day in the American capital.
One was the third indictment of Donald Trump, a first for an American president, especially in the form of a federal indictment. The other was the downgrading by Fitch of the US debt rating from the highest AAA level to AA+.
Both events were branded historic by the American media and political observers, who tried to pin the responsibility for both on either the Democrats or the Republicans, depending on political affiliations or leanings.
The bigger story of the two was the indictment of Trump in connection with his alleged efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election. He appeared in federal court to face charges of “conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.”
These are serious charges that go to the heart of the democratic system and the peaceful transfer of power. The New York Times wrote that this “third indictment in four months gets to the heart of the matter, the issue that will define the future of American democracy.”
Trump pleaded “not guilty” and called the situation a “very sad day for America.” Describing the indictment as “persecution of a political opponent,” he claimed he is leading President Joe Biden “by a lot” in opinion polls and dismissed the case as a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from running for election.
“So if you can’t beat him, you persecute him or you prosecute him,” he said. “You can’t let this happen in America”.
It is clear that his strategy, and that of his team, is to win this case in the court of public opinion before any trial takes place in judicial courts. Trump’s claim that the indictments he faces are politically motivated is certainly a belief shared by many of his supporters.
According to a CBS poll in June, 76 percent of Republican primary voters said they believed this to be true in the case of the indictment over his alleged possession of classified documents. The poll also revealed that 61 percent of the Republican voters who were questioned had not changed their opinion of Trump as a result of the indictment, and 41 percent said it had made them view him in an even more positive light.
A new ABC poll after the third indictment showed that support for indicting the former president fell along party lines too. In the poll 89% of the Democrats believed Mr. Trump “should have been charged with a crime in this case,” compared to 14% of Republicans who believed that.
These polls are but one more illustration of the political fault line and deep divisions in the country along party lines, raising concerns that they are starting to have real consequences for the country and its financial and economic stability.
Experts are worried about the message these repeated political confrontations are sending to the financial markets, and to the world in general, about the health of American democracy and the country’s economic and political stability.
The most glaring illustration of this concern came on the same day Trump was indicted for the third time, as if to make the point in unmistakably stark terms. It was, however, a coincidence that Fitch, the ratings agency, downgraded the US debt rating on the same day the former president was accused of inciting political instability.
Fitch cited “a steady deterioration in standards of governance over the last 20 years” and added that the “repeated debt-limit political standoffs and last-minute resolutions have eroded confidence in fiscal management.” Fitch’s director, Richard Francis, explained to Reuters the specific concerns that led to the downgrade, saying that “you have the debt ceiling, you have Jan. 6. Clearly, if you look at the polarization with both parties, the Democrats have gone further left and the Republicans further right, so the middle is kind of falling apart.”