Can Trump ride the indictment all the way to the White House?

America and the world watch as Donald Trump faces trial, ITV News reports

After lunch today, Donald Trump will walk into a Manhattan courtroom, protected by a phalanx of secret service agents.He is the first former president ever to be charged with a crime. He will plead not guilty. That much we know.But there is much more than we do not know.The most significant question is this: Has American politics reached such a nadir of partisanship and toxicity that being charged with a crime might be a political bonus?It seems an extraordinary question to ask. But Donald Trump is betting his political life - and perhaps his freedom - on the hope that he can ride this indictment all the way to the White House.There is reason to believe he may be right - that being charged by a Democratic attorney general in the most liberal city in America could be a decisive boost for a Republican.

In the 24 hours after news broke that he was being charged by Alvin Bragg, Trump raised $4 million for his presidential campaign. Two days later, he had raised $7 million. The money is pouring in. 

Even more telling, Republican politicians - even some of his critics - have rallied to his side.

But this isn’t just about money, the Republican Party, and the media attention that Trump craves and that fuels his volcanic brand.Trump may have encountered a slice of exceptional good fortune. He is lucky in the chronology of the multiple investigations that have been launched into his conduct and behaviour.The New York probe - alleging he paid hush money to an actress to keep her quiet and falsified his business accounts to hide the fact - is the weakest of all the cases against him. Even some Democrats acknowledge it’s flawed and may fail.After all, the payment to Stormy Daniels occurred more than six years ago. Why has the case been resurrected now, only after Trump declared for the presidency again? It hardly endangers the republic, or provides a solid basis for the unprecedented indictment of a former president.

Some Trump supporters - and protesters - gathered outside Trump Tower on Monday (March 3), as the former US president returned to New York. Credit: AP

Far more serious investigations are underway and gathering momentum. They include the probe into whether Trump instigated and inspired the January 6th attempted insurrection. A Special Counsel is also examining whether Trump broke laws when he took secret documents from the White House to his Florida golf resort after he left office.So Trump may be lucky - and thankful - that the most trivial case comes first. If he beats the rap on this, will Americans have the appetite to go through the whole circus again…and again…and again?Or will they conclude that the criminal justice system is being - as Trump claims - weaponised against the former president? Polls suggest that many Americans do view this as a political indictment, even if a majority support the charging of Trump.

Donald Trump has a decades-long history of defeating those seeking to hold him to account.He is not untouchable now that he has lost the protections of the presidency. But he is able to outwit his opponents with bravado and hyper-aggressive legal tactics.Now he is promising his supporters that the Final Battle - as he puts it - is approaching and that only he stands between a free America and a far left dictatorship.Arguably, for all the legal jeopardy he faces, as he strides past the cameras today, Trump is exactly where he wants to be.  At the centre of a storm, dominating the cable TV channels, eclipsing rivals, and portraying himself not so much as a defendant, but rather as a man of destiny, in a death struggle with the far left.What could motivate and mobilise his supporters more than that?

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