Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | 14:56 WIB

Mr. Trump’s Space for Maneuvers is closing up

Jakarta, IO – It is still intriguing to follow the developments of the legal cases that former US President Donald Trump must now face. As we learn from news reports, his current indictment, issued by Fulton County Court and filed by Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis, together with 18 other defendants, is his fourth, carrying 41 counts. The most prominent among these is his call for help to Georgia State Secretary Brad Raffensperger, seeking to get the 11,780 votes necessary to enable him to win the state of Georgia in the 2020 Presidential Election, thus violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, concerning a conspiracy to alter voting results, while inciting insurrection against the Government. 

As was also widely seen in the news, the former President flew from New Jersey to Atlanta on his private jet, then rode in a motorcade directly to Fulton County Jail to have his mug picture taken, as well as being fingerprinted. In Court he listened to the decision of a Judge regarding the schedule of the court session, which will start on March 4, 2024, one day prior to “Super Tuesday”, one of the most important dates for the US Presidential election. 

This is totally opposed to the date his defense lawyers asked for, which was after the Presidential Election, and two months longer than the DOJ request of a quick solution, as Special Counsellor Jack Smith proposes. Judge Tanya Chutkan, in commenting on the defense lawyers’ complaint about the decision, says that the Court decides on the schedule of court sessions disregarding defendants’ schedules, as has been the practice: every time it deals with an athlete accused of having committed a crime, the court is not influenced by the defendant’s needs, in terms of their training or competition schedules. 

J. Soedradjad Djiwandono
J. Soedradjad Djiwandono. Emeritus Professor of Economics, FEBUI, Jakarta, and Adjunct Professor of International Economics, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

For curious observers like me, there are some interesting developments worth mentioning here. It has widely been reported that since the Fulton Court and jail appearance by the former President, the Trump Campaign fund drive seems to have gained new momentum, with donations for mugs and teeshirts with his picture on the occasion managed in a few days to raise USD 7.1 million; since the beginning of the indictment, funds raised have topped USD 20 million. Just like some other things related to the former President, it is difficult to understand that even his indictment can result in raising funds. Amazing, is it not? 

On the other hand, the former President’s luck in his political affairs may not be what he and his diehard supporters hope for, I think. Remember, he was saying mockingly in his campaign rallies that the more indictments he gets, the higher climbs his rating in the polls. This time most polls show the reverse: the number of people still wanting to cast his or her vote for the former President has declined substantially, the reverse of the case with former VP Mike Pence and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. During the GOP first debate, among the eight Candidates – and the absence of Mr Trump – held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Candidate Asa Hutchison, the Arkansas Governor, was the only one daring enough to say that he is not going to vote for anyone involved in insurrection attempts to overthrow a democratically-elected government.

Apparently, he must have carefully read the implications of one of the indictments against the former President. In a CNN interview hosted by Dana Bash, Congressman Jamie Reskin from Maryland, who was a member of the Congressional Select Committee on January 6 , 2021, was arguing that, citing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which states in Section 3 that anyone who participates in an insurrection to topple the government cannot hold any elected office at any level, whether State or Federal, let alone the US Presidency.

This is like the last nail to the coffin of the former President’s political life. Do not you agree with me? That’s why as I chose the title of this column: his space to maneuver is becoming tiny now. He cannot run as a Presidential candidate, which also implies that he cannot win the election, and thus he does not have any power to pardon himself or his comrades. 

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It is ironic that what former President Donald Trump experienced, as described above: he is known to be disrespectful of women, and more so of African American ones. But now the authorities who put him down, by bringing him into a court of law or coming up with indictments, and presiding over court proceedings, were at least three Blacks: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, DC Federal Court Tanya Chutkan and New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

Those who believe in curses must be commenting on this as just that. But I better stop here, I hope you all do not buy such nonsense. Let me close this discussion with a somber note following what has been said by former First Lady Hilary Clinton, and former Atlanta Mayor Katie Lance Bottom, that this is really a very sad period of the US history, one that should not make anybody happy. But at the same time, this is also a time to celebrate the workings of the law, demonstrating how everyone is the same under the law, including a US President. God bless the Rule of Law.


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