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3 Questions A first in US history Indictment of Donald

3 Questions: A first in US history | Indictment of Donald Trump, a former president

Facing charges, arrest, or imprisonment would not prevent Trump from running for president, as a clean record is not required

In 3 questions, Kadir Ustun analyzes the ongoing investigations into former US President Donald Trump and what indictments against him might hold in store for Anadolu's Analysis Department. What crimes is Trump being charged with? Former US President Donald Trump is currently under investigation for a series of alleged offenses, including his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 capitol attack, attempting to change election results in Georgia, and deliberately keeping from the government confidential documents that were supposed to remain in the White House. The above investigations have not yet resulted in indictments, and it is unclear whether Trump will be prosecuted or not. However, the indictments from these investigations are likely to involve accusations that fall within the scope of serious crimes. Because these are all federal crimes. In terms of state-level cases, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office is reportedly indicting Trump over false business records because his company is located in New York. The charges stem from allegations of making hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels through his company and then falsifying the records to cover this up. So the indictment that is expected to lead to Trump's arrest in New York City on Tuesday will focus on the charge of falsifying business records. It was already known that Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid hush money to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election and he got jail time for this crime. Full details of the indictment will be revealed on Tuesday, but he will certainly be charged with falsifying business documents. It is not yet clear whether the indictment will include the allegation that this crime was committed to cover up another crime (violation of campaign finance laws). If it is proven that Trump falsified business records to cover up another crime, it would be classified as a felony. The prosecutor may only refer to the campaign finance charge in the indictment, since as a federal crime it is outside of the Manhattan District Attorney's jurisdiction. If the prosecutor includes both charges in the indictment, the case could be weakened, and the judge could decide to separate the charges. If the prosecutor insists on proving the felony charge, it could become more difficult legally, and the case could eventually be appealed to the Supreme Court. What happens if Trump goes to jail? Being charged, arrested, released on bail, or sent to prison would not prevent Trump from running for president. The Constitution does not require a clean criminal record to become president. There would be no obstacle for Trump to campaign or theoretically run the country legally. If someone goes to jail for committing a major crime, that could prevent someone from becoming a government official. However, this does not apply to elected officials, as people with criminal records have previously run for political office. Although there is no legal obstacle, this does not mean that it would not have political implications. The possibility of Trump physically going to jail is theoretically possible, but politically highly unlikely. Trump will try to use the legal proceedings against him as a campaign fodder. He told his supporters two weeks ago that he could be arrested and called on them to protest. Even if he surrenders, he will certainly try to turn this process into a major victimization show and look for public support to rally behind him. Republican Party heavyweights have said that the case against Trump is a witch hunt and politically motivated. This case may give Trump an advantage in the primaries as a figure “victimized by the establishment.” Republicans can defend Trump more easily since the accusations he faces are misdemeanors. However, as the process continues and more indictments are issued for major crimes based on other investigations, support for Trump may weaken. Many Republicans need support from Trump voters and so will defend him. There is also a possibility, if Trump were sent to jail, that his supporters would take to the streets and cause chaos, which could threaten peace and security. So even if Trump is convicted, it is highly likely that any jail sentence would be suspended. The US would not want to put a former president in jail. How would Trump’s indictment affect US politics? Even before the charges are filed, former President Trump had already made a name for himself in American history. Trump broke all norms and traditions and waged war against the system during his presidency, and he was the first and only president to be impeached twice. With the charges, another important tradition of the United States is being broken. The sensitivity to apparently acting against former administrations out of a desire for revenge came to an end with the charges filed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. The message that no one is above the law is being conveyed, and a taboo has been broken as a path has been opened for politically motivated lawsuits to be filed against former presidents in the future. US politics has been going through a polarization process for a long time. Trump's rise was largely a result of the reaction of marginalized white people to the system. We witnessed that these extreme people could do anything to support Trump in the Jan. 6 capitol attack. This group, which came close to occupying the Capitol, stands out as a result of the polarization in American politics. Trump's portrayal as a political victim will deepen this polarization even further. Democrats pressuring US President Joe Biden to move further with leftist and progressive policies are leading to a reduction in the influence of groups close to the center in American politics. The extreme polarization on both the right and left and the weakening of the center are undermining the two-party system based on a culture of compromise. While laws cannot be passed without the support of both major parties – Republicans and Democrats – "guerrilla tactics" used by the extreme wings of both parties on every issue from economy to education, and healthcare to foreign policy are locking the legislative system. With this becoming one of the most key impasses of US politics, this situation is leading the country to lose its foreign policy influence since there is no consensus in domestic politics. [Anadolu Agency, April 3 2023]