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Donald Trump

With Trump arrest imminent, U.S. enters uncharted territory

Author: Editors Desk Source: CBC News:
March 31, 2023 at 07:23
Donald Trump seen arriving at Trump Tower in New York City last summer, the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)
Donald Trump seen arriving at Trump Tower in New York City last summer, the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)

Indictment of former president triggers political, social, legal unknowns

We'll get to the political reverberations of this earth-shaking event, unprecedented across 46 presidencies throughout the 247-year life of the American nation.

This singular event is the impending arrest of Donald Trump, and the country will have ample time to dissect its potential consequences at the ballot box.

There are more pressing concerns. A police officer confided recently that he and colleagues had been talking for months about how to protect their local courthouse if Trump ever faced charges in their city.

It's no longer hypothetical: Trump will become the first former president charged with a crime, a Manhattan prosecutor confirmed Thursday, and he's expected to surrender within days.

But before we get to an election, or even a trial, there's the more immediate issue troubling those aforementioned police officers.

Can this unfold without anyone getting hurt?

Bright flames, caused by pyrotechnics, in front of the US Capitol dome.
Trump has begun defending people convicted of attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, even celebrating them at a recent campaign rally. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Spectre of violence looms

Trump plans to keep running and has begun using apocalyptic language to describe the 2024 election: "This is the final battle," Trump has said in recent speeches, declaring that if he loses the country will be over.

The accused has a history of stirring up a mob. And if he's been tempered by the experience of Jan. 6, he hasn't demonstrated it one bit.

In just the last few days, Trump has warned of potential death and destruction if he's charged. He's called for protests, as is his constitutional right. 

He also posted a photo of himself holding a baseball bat beside the prosecutor's picture and said it was accidental. 

He held his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco, Tex., site of a notorious deadly standoff pitting a cult against federal law enforcement. 

He began that rally with a tribute to the Jan. 6 mob, holding his hand over his heart, listening to a song recorded by convicts from the Capitol attack. 

Trump holds hand on heart on stage.
At a rally in Waco, Tex., last weekend, Trump listens to a choir of people incarcerated due to their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, singing The Star-Spangled Banner, as footage plays on a screen behind him of the scenes from the Capitol that day. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

He later said he feels like Elvis because that song topped the charts. He's talking about pardons for some of the Jan. 6 convicts, if he's re-elected.

"Insane," is how one Fox News personality, Brian Kilmeade, described Trump's decision to highlight the insurrection at last weekend's rally. 

Fox News, however, overwhelmingly defended Trump on Thursday, with Sean Hannity's prime-time show carrying a screen title labelling the case a witch hunt. 

A researcher who studies political violence, Robert Pape, has been conducting surveys at the University of Chicago and has polled Americans about this. 

His latest one, this January, found that six percent of respondents believe use of force is justified in response to a possible Trump arrest. 

That amounts to nearly 20 million people, millions of them armed. 

So let's mark the potential social fallout as: To be determined. Could there be economic effects too?

Let's see if Marjorie Taylor Greene gains momentum with her demand to make defunding other, federal criminal investigations into Trump a condition for raising the U.S. debt ceiling, to avoid a catastrophic U.S. debt default later this year.

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