Former President Donald J. Trump kept the focus of the nation Tuesday and Wednesday as America waited for an indictment that never came.
It may still. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who doesn’t have the time or inclination to pursue the incarceration of thugs who rape and rob seems deadly serious about putting Trump behind bars, if even for just a few hours.
That’s not to say Trump is innocent. Common sense tells us that most anyone who’s ever been involved in the development of high-end real estate anywhere in the five boroughs — if they haven’t broken a law or two themselves — has been involved occasionally with people who do it for a living. As have numerous city officials, lenders and others whose livelihoods are dependent on construction and building.
That’s not why Bragg is parading Trump associates before a grand jury. According to what’s leaked, he’s investigating the allegation Trump paid off a one-time sex partner to keep her mouth shut about what might have gone on between them.
It’s nothing no one hasn’t heard before. The woman in question, in a stunning act of attention-seeking behavior, tried to use it to derail Trump’s ascent to the White House. It didn’t work because even people who believed her still voted for Trump in 2016 because he talked about creating jobs and about restoring America to her former glory.
This case isn’t about whether Trump broke the law. Many legal scholars have written they don’t think much of the case Bragg is building, which is usually treated as a misdemeanor anyway. The pending indictment is about the role celebrity plays in the political process.
Bragg is in with other prosecutors to be the first one to bring an indictment against Trump. Not just because they all follow influential liberal actor/director Rob Reiner on Twitter and he’s been demanding it for months. They want to be first because it makes them famous and guarantees a golden future in U.S. politics.
To paraphrase the great Mario Puzo, Bragg isn’t thinking about District Attorney Alvin Bragg as his grand jury investigation drags on. He’s thinking about “Senator Bragg. Governor Bragg. Something.” The first Democrat to get the former president in irons gets a generational leg up on every other elected official in the country who isn’t on the Trump train.
What Bragg and others really want is a picture of Trump in a jumpsuit that matches his hair. They’re unlikely to get it so a picture of him during a perp walk, being escorted by the NYPD and the Secret Service through New York’s Foley Square, hands cuffed behind his back, headed to the bus for Rikers’ Island will do.
To them, that’s the money shot, the picture that’s worth a thousand words. The Democrats think it wins them the election in 2024, even if old Joe Biden is still at the top of the ticket. The funny thing is, Trump wants that picture too because he thinks it wins the election for him.
Remember two things: He thinks the Democrats cheated to win in the last election and that more than 73 million people voted to keep him in office in 2020. To Trump, a picture of him in handcuffs is to his supporters what a red flag is to a bull. It will make them mad, and it will make them vote, in bigger numbers than they did last time.
By manufacturing an indictment against Trump, Bragg may be playing into his hands.
A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.
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