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Trump indicted on federal charges

Trump indicted on federal charges
Trump indicted on federal charges | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Another Quick Take. Too much news this week to keep me down. My goodness.

Seven indictments going to be coming down on Tuesday, federal indictments, against former President Trump. Unprecedented development in US history. We see so many of those in American democracy these days. No American president has ever been federally indicted before. I'd like to say no one will ever be federal indicted again, but of course that is looking increasingly unlikely given the state and trajectory of the US political system.


Now, of course, the right thing to do here would be to wait until the indictments come down to opine on them, wait until evidence is presented, and the jury rules to determine to what extent this is a case that is appropriate on its merits. It's kind of like OJ, right? I mean, everyone was on tenterhooks until the verdict came down, and then you had the real response. No, no, no, the real response right now has absolutely nothing to do with the facts of the case and has to do with your political alignment. Are you on Team Trump or are you on Team I Can't Stand Trump? Depending on that, that determines your response to the case.

We've seen that already in the US political system. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy comes out immediately and very strongly with Trump sort of language, "This is a witch hunt." "This is a politicization of the Department of Justice, a sitting president going after a former president." "Can't take this seriously." I mean, if you're listening to McCarthy or if you're listening to most of the competing candidates for the Republican presidency, not all, but certainly most against Trump, your view would be that this case is illegitimate. It's being brought against Trump by Biden to destroy him, to destroy his candidacy. It is politically motivated. That you should not have any belief or support for the independent DOJ and cases that are being brought forward. That rule of law in the United States is being subverted by this very case. That is the perspective.

On the other side is the view that you can't have rule of law if one man, any man, particularly the former president or the sitting President of the United States stands above it and that rule of law doesn't apply. The breadth of the cases against former President Trump is, of course, staggering both with indictments already being brought down. Of course, these are the first federal indictments. They're not the first indictments. Other cases are proceeding apace in Georgia as well as federal case on insurrection. There was recently a civil case that Trump lost and $5 million he has to pay for sexual assault of E. Jean Carroll.

I mean, this is far too much legal sturm und drang for any individual in the American political system. If these are legitimate crimes, in a system that has rule of law, you need to be prosecuting them. Then of course, there are people in the United States for whom Trump is guilty irrespective of what the facts bring, so they're prepared to try him and find him guilty in the court of the media and public opinion, irrespective of what the grand jury says, irrespective of what the evidence is found to be in the case.

I mean that by itself, the reality of this case shows a level of the US political system being broken. That's the biggest takeaway. The biggest takeaway, of course, is that impeachment no longer functions as a check on the executive. It has become inextricably politicized. It can only be used in a partisan way, and therefore it no longer holds legitimacy. That started off in the Clinton days, and it is only expanded as we've seen with former President Trump.

That is now becoming increasingly true with the Attorney General and with the special prosecutor. Irrespective of what you think about the case, the fact that it is not being tried on its merits in the court of public opinion, the fact that the media and the political leaders on the Democratic and Republican party and the American people have made up their minds about the nature of this case, that the majority of them, before any evidence is heard, shows that the US democracy is not what it once was. That's the biggest takeaway. That's the most disturbing takeaway.

Now, to look at what's going to happen going forward. This clearly isn't as serious as the insurrection case that might be brought, but it's far more serious than the case involving Stormy Daniels and the illegal use of funds to pay her off. Also, less politicized in the sense that Alvin Bragg in New York City is certainly seen to be making more of a career name for himself in going after Trump. That's not the case with the special counsel there. Indeed, the politics run in the other direction. Unless the Special counsel and the Attorney General truly believed they had a rock solid case against Trump, it is hard to imagine that they would be proceeding with it.

Having said that, Trump himself runs a grievance-based campaign. He's incredibly effective at it. He's a more effective campaigner than any political leader I've ever seen. Irrespective of how he governs, he loves campaigning. He now has a much more solid team around him for the campaign because they think he's going to win than they did in 2016 where he had the D team that all thought he was going to lose. His ability to fundraise off this. Of course, those letters were all basically out as soon as he got the phone call that the indictments were coming down.

I hate to say this, but I actually believe that these indictments make it more likely that Trump is going to get the Republican nomination. I particularly believe that because it's very unlikely that this case is going to get resolved by a grand jury before the nomination process for the GOP is complete. In fact, it's probably unlikely to get resolved before the actual election. The weird thing, of course, is if it got resolved and he was found guilty and was even in jail, again very unlikely, but as a felon, he'd still probably be able to run from jail as president, but he wouldn't be able to vote in Florida, which is all just shows how incredibly farcical the US political system has become.

The more important issue here, I guess from a positive perspective, is that there are a significant minority of Republican voters that believe that Trump should not be president if he's found guilty of a serious crime, if he's convicted of a serious crime. My point is that that is very unlikely to happen before the election process, and certainly before the nomination process. Yes, Asa Hutchinson, yes, Chris Christie are going after Trump directly, but most of the candidates, and certainly the most popular candidates are not going to, and they're going to support Trump if he gets that nomination. That's an advantage to him in the same way that McCarthy, Speaker of the House, is absolutely going to continue to do that.

What do I think? What think is we're going to cover this as a country every day. It's going to dominate headlines. It's going to help Trump, it's going to weaken US democracy. For allies around the world, this is a hit to confidence in the United States as a trusted long-term ally as a political system that they want to align with. For adversaries of the United States, it is useful as a proof point that the American political system is no better than their own. That there is a moral relativism and a hypocrisy when we talk about politics and values. That there is no right or wrong on the global stage, and to the extent that there is, that the Americans and American political elites are on the wrong side of that.

It's unfortunate. It's not what we want to see. Every American who grew up believing in liberty and democracy and rule of law has seen faith in those values shaken over the past couple of decades and continued with the news of the last 24 hours. I'm sorry to have to report on that. I still believe in the resilience, ultimately, of the US political system. But it is that very resilience that allows so many political leaders to say, "Not today. I don't have to deal with this because everything is just fine. The longer everything is seen to be just fine, the greater the erosion becomes." At some point you get a crisis. We are heading in that direction. I'm not looking forward to seeing it.

That's it for me. I'll talk to you all real soon.

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