Donald Trump is facing the legal reckoning he has earned after debasing every moral, ethical and legal norm in pursuit of the two defining aspects of his small, grubby life: money and fame.
The wheel has turned. The inconceivable has become real. The comeuppance that millions of enlightened Americans have hoped for, wished for and yearned for, for a long, often dispiriting while, has arrived.
Just months after a New York district attorney showed it the way by charging Trump in connection with a hush money payment scheme to a porn star, the United States Justice Department has belatedly done its duty as well.
Perhaps the G-man leading a slew of investigations into Trump, special counsel Jack Smith, was inspired to act by the will and bravery of two women who refused to be cowed by a thug turned president.
Writer E Jean Carroll and actress Stormy Daniels took on Trump when no one else would, knowing, I’m sure, that ugly, relentless attacks were inevitably in store. Rather than buckle or step back, they stood up and pushed ahead. Enlightened Americans owe them both an abiding debt of gratitude for having fought the good fight and prevailed.
It will be up to the Justice Department to follow their honourable lead and achieve the same oh-so-satisfying result.
The first news accounts of the charges variously described the unprecedented move against a former president as a “politically momentous” “seismic event”.
For once, the hyperbole was warranted.
This career grifter – who, absurdly, became commander in chief of the United States – has, with his signature bile and bluster, avoided being held to any meaningful account. Until now.
This time, the bile and bluster did not work.
True to his rank, manipulative nature, Trump tried to “get ahead” of the story by breaking word of the multi-count indictment on a social media site – populated by his fanatical followers – befitting his sorry character: illiterate and perpetually angry.
“I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States,” Trump thundered. Think again, Mr ex-President. Think again.
The legal rubicon has been crossed. Trump, I am convinced, will not be able to recover from it.
Day by day, the perplexing aura of invincibility that has shielded Trump, is flaking away one poisonous layer after another.
Trump, I think, senses this. The bravado has been replaced by panic. He no longer controls events or the “narrative”. Trump’s fate will be decided by people beyond his hideous reach and the grovelling gallery of sycophants on and off cable TV who do his sinister bidding for money and fame, too.
It is no wonder that his all-caps outbursts have a desperate quality that betrays a fear of what lies ahead: a Florida courtroom, seasoned prosecutors and an avalanche of incriminating evidence, including, apparently, an audio tape of Trump admitting that he held onto a classified document about plans to attack Iran drafted by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The prospect that Trump’s garrulous hubris could help convict him is as delicious as it is fitting.
Despite the indictments, it remains likely that Trump will emerge as the Republican nominee. Still, he will be bloodied by his Republican challengers who have shown a surprising willingness, in recent days, to talk bluntly about how his erratic conduct in office and the precipitating role he played in the January 6 insurrection have disqualified him from the presidency.
The special counsel may also deliver other indictments on that score. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and ex-Vice President Mike Pence will not only be emboldened by the current and any future indictments, but encouraged to continue to go on the attack. They will whittle away, bit by bit, Trump’s appeal to independent voters who will not countenance supporting a federal prison inmate in the making.
And, of course, there is more ammunition possibly in the offing as a Georgia prosecutor looks poised to indict Trump later this summer over his mob-like strong-arm tactics to pressure the Republican secretary of state to “find” 11,000 phantom votes to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
This is the stuff that President Joe Biden’s dreams are made of.
His probable Republican opponent will be preoccupied with keeping out of jail and exhaust time, money and energy while Biden campaigns to be re-elected.
Trump will fall back on his usual gambits: leverage the indictments into martyrdom and undermine the legitimacy of prosecutors.
That tired playbook is losing its potency.
History will record that Thursday, June 8, 2023, was the day that Donald Trump’s quest to be elected president in 2024 was doomed.