No Time to Celebrate: Trump Can Survive the Indictments


Never underestimate the Democrats and the American System’s capacity to let the slithering orange monstrosity off the hook and back into power.

Many of the nation’s liberal talking heads and pundits want you think that the US bourgeois electoral and constitutional system is working because the fascist leader and putschist Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors” Trump is now under multiple criminal investigations and has been indicted twice so far – in Manhattan for the payment of hush money to safeguard his path to the presidency in 2016 and at the federal level in Florida for his handling of classified documents since his departure from the White House.

Indictments are now apparently imminent for his brazen attempts to subvert and reverse the 2020 presidential election – one likely coming muti-count indictment from  the federal government and another likely coming multi-count indictment from a Georgia prosecutor in Atlanta. And we have recently learned that Herr Donald is under criminal investigation for fake Elector schemes in Michigan and Arizona (see this for a useful summary of all the legal cases involving Trump right now).

So hip, hip hooray, time to break out the champagne because the Malignant One, accurately described by Noam Chomsky in January 2020 as “the most dangerous criminal in human history,” is going down? US-Amerikaner fascism is on the ropes, right?

Not so fast. The orange-blushed mob-boss has been turning his indictments into fundraising gold and has successfully exploited them to solidify his position as the runaway top Republican presidential candidate to unseat the incredibly unpopular and doddering corporate-imperialist Joe Biden in 2024-25.  He is using the belated criminal inquiries and indictments to feed the paranoid-style narrative that he is being persecuted by a “radical Left” “deep state” that has “weaponized the justice system” against him and other palingenetic white nationalists (like the January 6 prisoners he regularly invokes and promises to pardon) who want to redeem America from “globalist” “Marxists” (like those well-known communists Joe Biden and Kamala Harris) and make the nation Great Again.

Trump has a dedicated base that believes – more as “a tribal pose” and “attitude” than as “ a fully formed thought” (Sarah Longwell) – his richly Hitlerian claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. That same cult following believes their Dear Leader’s claim that all the charges and investigations aimed at him are the bogus products of a “radical Left deep state” that is persecuting him for nefarious political purposes that have noting to do with him breaking any laws.  The fact that he has twice been determined likely guilty of high felonies by democratically selected grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens is of no significance to his many millions of demented fans.

The federal indictments have come very, very late in the game, thanks to reprehensible foot-dragging by the nation’s conservative, cringing, and hyper-cautious Attorney General Merrick Garland. It is by no means clear that Trump can be tried and found guilty at the federal level prior to Trump potentially winning the 2024 presidential election and then shutting the investigations down and pardoning himself along with others who joined his effort to overthrow previously normative US bourgeois electoral democracy and tule of law in 2020 and 2021.

Aileen Cannot, the Trump-appointed hack of a federal judge in charge of the coming Florida classified documents trial seems ready to delay the proceedings on the thoroughly false premise that federal special prosecutor Jack Smith’s case in this matter is unusually complex and voluminous.

It is quite possible (as the esteemed Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe recently noted on MSNBC) that the time squeeze resulting from Garland’s pathetic delay will prevent the special federal prosecutor Jack Smith from going after Trump on insurrection charges for January 6th.

There’s no law preventing Trump from running and assuming office even if he is convicted  prior to the November 2024 elections and the January 2025 presidential inauguration. Once he gets back in power, Trump will of course pardon himself, which is not forbidden by any part of the US Constitution. The monumentally corrupt and illegitimate, lifetime-appointed Christian fascist Supreme Court that he and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel created will certainly not block any such action on his part.

Trump’s  ancient opponent Joe “Nothing Would Fundamentally Change” Biden is epically disliked by US-Americans (only Jimmy Carter has had lower approval numbers than Biden three-plus years into a US residency) and is gravely short on charisma and inspiration. Without the Covid-19 pandemic’s 2020 emergence, the doddering warmonger, oil-driller, and strikebreaker Biden would likely have lost the last presidential election. A recession or near recession in in the next year or so would likely seal the fate of the dedicated fascism-appeaser Joe “Working Across the Aisle” Biden, who has decided to run on “Bidenomics” – an arguably stupid thing to do amidst stubborn price inflation – and not against the authoritarian neofascist Christian white nationalism that has taken over the rightmost of the United States two capitalist parties.

In 2024 as in past presidential elections, the Electoral College will overrepresent the nation’s most revanchist and reactionary, Christian white nationalist states and regions. Also working in Trump’s advantage is the virulent partisan and racist voter suppression in place across Red State America and, perhaps more importantly, the concerted right-wing takeover down to the precinct level  of hundreds if not thousands of local vote-supervising and vote-tabulating positions.

This is no time for relief and celebration, trust me.  Promising literal revenge, Trump has an Enemies List that would make Richard Nixon green with envy.  A recent New York Times report shows that the Trump campaign is “planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government,” working up detailed plans to “re-shap[e] the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands” should he take back the White House in 2025. The imperial presidency is nowhere near imperial enough for Trump and his big team of far-right policy wonks, an army of experts in authoritarian strategy and procedure far beyond anything at his disposal in 2016 and 2017.

And what if Trump’s legal troubles did somehow knock him off the Republican ticket next year (unlikely as that may be)? The most likely successor in the coin flip Electoral College contest with the nearly hapless bourgeois Democrat Biden is still Ron DeSantis, who is if anything a more lethal, hateful, sadistic, and disciplined fascist than Trump.

The evidence for locking Trump up and throwing away the key has been there all along.  No functioning and self-respecting “democracy” would allow this demented sack of fascist shit to still stalk the land, holding vicious campaign/hate rallies where he tells his frothing volk that he will be their “retribution” and suggests that he will deport U.S. born and raised Marxists and socialists.

That’s on the dismal, dollar-drenched Weimar Dems, the national corporate-imperialist party of inauthentic opposition and Hollow Resistance.

Sorry, no champagne.  The American System is by no means guaranteed to work to stop the US Amerikaner fascisation process, which has deep roots in American capitalism-imperialism, American white supremacism, American patriarchy, American imperialism, and American Christianity  and which is richly enabled by the nation’s archaic 18th Century slaveowners’ constitution – a potent twenty-four decade-old Minority Rule straightjacket on popular sovereignty.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).

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