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Trump indicted (again)

Trump indicted (again)
Trump indicted again | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take from Nantucket.

Another exciting week, far more eventful than we'd like in the US political environment, particularly because of more indictments that have come down on former President Donald Trump. You're used to me saying that these are unprecedented times in US politics. Unfortunately, all of the new precedents that are being set are about eroding political institutions. They are corrosive. The guardrails are being weakened, and it is very hard to find structural changes that are strengthening US democracy. All sorts of things that we can say that are promising about the US economy, maybe being able to avoid recession, about the US defense sector, and about its ability to protect not just the US but other countries around the world.

I can go on and on, but when it comes to the political system, it's getting weaker. And that is particularly in terms of the upcoming US presidential election. Now, these latest indictments that have come down from the special counsel, Jack Smith, focusing on Trump's efforts to overturn a legitimate, free, and fair election in the United States, are rejected categorically out of hand by Trump himself. Not surprisingly, that's what he would say in any case. And also by the overwhelming majority of his supporters. They are serious charges. They are, in my view, much more serious than the other charges that we have seen, the charges that we saw about obscuring hush money for sex that he had with a porn star, which also were illegal in terms of framing in the campaign contributions, are unserious charges. They're real charges, but they shouldn't rise to a level of felony, in my view. They are politicized, and I certainly don't think they should have an impact on his ability to run for 2024. I think that the issue of classified documents is more serious, but still, in my view, something that a lot of political leaders have been caught mishandling documents is a massive level of over classification that occurs with documents.

I also think that Trump, the big thing that he has done wrong, in my view, is not the fact that he originally took those documents, but rather that he has acted like a child in lying about the fact that he had them in telling people to destroy video. In other words, it's the cover-up and not because anyone really believes he was trying to do anything particularly malevolent with the classified documents. It wasn't like anyone is credibly accusing him of trying to give them to or sell them to, you know, spies or, you know, other governments. It's more that, you know, Trump just thinks that because he's all-powerful and former president and the Donald, that means that the rules don't apply to him. So he should be able to have those documents, and he's busy, and he shouldn't have to respond to the FBI when they demand a response. In other words, you know, he's just, you know, he couldn't be bothered. I do think those are serious charges. And I think that they should probably have a significant impact in whether or not he can run again. But I don't know that I would try to preclude him from running on the basis of those charges.

These charges are different, these much closer to the second impeachment. These have much more to do with the fact that President Trump attempted to subvert the core principles of rule of law in having a peaceable transition from one president to another. He has never accepted the legitimacy of the 2020 election. He's never accepted the legitimacy of President Biden and did everything in his power and a lot of things that were not in his power to try to ensure that there would not be a peaceful transfer of power. In other words, that there would not be an effective republic that democracy would not hold, and that certainly takes him out of the running for being able to be president going forward in my view. But my view is not just positive here. And unfortunately, irrespective of the severity of the crime, how you feel about this, almost certainly if you're an American citizen, is aligned with how you feel about the person of Trump. If you like Trump, if you would vote for Trump, if you believe that he is someone that is a better and more suitable president than Biden, it is overwhelmingly likely that you feel like these charges are politicized, that the Department of Justice and the FBI are engaged in a vendetta, probably led by Biden to unjustly remove Trump from the running. If you can't stand Trump, if you wouldn't vote for him, you believe that he's guilty before you even have a case. And it doesn't matter what the charges are, he should be out anyway. That is the opposite, of course, of rule of law is the opposite to the way a functional democracy runs. And that's because the United States is increasingly a dysfunctional democracy. It is the weakest part of America's global power status, the state and the trajectory of the American political system. And I don't think this is going to get resolved legally. I think this is going to be resolved politically, which is exactly the way it shouldn't be resolved. What's going to happen is that you're going to have a nomination process for the GOP.

It is very likely Trump is going to be the GOP nominee. It is more likely because of these crimes, which is, of course, the opposite of what it would be in a functional democracy because of the tribalism, because of the political alignment, because of the belief that this is a witch hunt. And it is possible that one or two of the cases will be resolved before the actual election. But it is not probable. It is more likely that the election itself will be held without having any of these cases concluded, which means that the outcome of the vote is what's going to determine to what extent and whether Trump himself will be punished or whether Trump will be president again. It is a horrible position to be in. It means that the election increasingly looks likely to be seen as illegitimate by virtually the entire political opposition, no matter who it is. In other words, if Trump wins in that environment, Biden supporters believe that he should be president and that the election was not legitimate. If he loses, Trump's supporters believe that the election is not legitimate.

This still has a long way to go because, of course, American elections are entirely too long. They are way too expensive. The Republic would probably be better off if there wasn't an election going on in 2024, even though, of course, that's also a subversion of the US political process and of course, around the world for all of those countries that look to the United States as an ally, as a partner, as someone you need to count on. In this environment, it becomes much harder to do so, much more dangerous going forward because we are in an environment of active war with the Russians, of much greater political tension and crisis with the Chinese. The only countries out there, the only actors out there that are excited about the 2024 US elections are rogue actors, rogue states, core adversaries of the US and terrorist groups. Really not what you want to say about the most important political transition that occurs in the world. What I'm not looking forward to, but one I'll certainly be focused very closely on. We'll be talking about it over the coming months and year plus.

So that's it for me. And I'll talk to you all real soon.


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