The Indictment of Donald Trump
It’s coming, but what will it mean for America?
Welcome back! I took a few weeks off this August to spend time with my kids. The Newsletter is back this week on its regular schedule.
Also, we at The Gaia Leadership Project are running our world-renowned activist/leader bootcamp known as RISE for the tenth time this fall! Class starts a week from today and runs for eight weeks. All the details and registration can be found here. Let’s save democracy together in November!
Over the past few weeks, it’s become abundantly clear that the Department of Justice has an airtight case against Donald Trump for violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice, among other potential crimes.
We learned on Friday what was contained in the affidavit supporting the search warrant that was executed early this month. That affidavit revealed that among the mess of documents the former President returned were highly classified documents revealing, among other things, human intelligence sources– material which would arguably have put the lives of those sources at risk were it to get into the hands of adversaries.
What we don’t yet know may be worse. More than a dozen additional boxes were seized when the search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago, and we know from the inventory released by the DOJ that some of those documents had the highest possible classification stamp– one reserved for nuclear weapon level technology and the like.
The Espionage Act is plain: keep materials that could be harmful to national security, whether they’re classified or not, and you’re in violation of the law. Sell them, and you’re in violation of the law again. Refuse to return them when asked, repeatedly, over 18 months? You’re guilty of obstruction of justice.
The case against Donald Trump for retention of these documents is cut and dried. And it is only one of four investigations of which we are currently aware that could lead to his imprisonment.
I’m not big on predictions, but I will say this: we are closer now to an indictment of Donald Trump than we have ever been, and when it comes to the highest levels of national security, as well as the potential disappearance/death of intelligence assets as a result of Trump’s actions, I don’t think Merrick Garland is going to let it slide.
So what does it mean for America if Donald Trump is indicted?
Over the weekend, multiple high ranking Republicans seemed to signal that violence was in the offing should Trump be indicted, as did the former President himself.
I have long considered the prospect of violence at Trump’s indictment to be a real possibility. Anyone familiar with Resmaa Menaken’s book, The Quaking of America (which was our book for August in The Atelier, our private online community for progressive activists) knows why.
The far right is already engaged in stochastic terrorism and violence, and I don’t doubt that there would be more of the same.
However, what we’re not talking about is the likelihood of celebration among the more than half of American voters who believe he should be indicted for January 6th, not to mention the higher percentages who want him held accountable since the search warrant event at Mar-a-Lago.
It’s critical to recognize in relation to both possibilities that we are mere weeks from the midterm elections now. Violence at the polls is possible. So is mass Democratic turnout in light of recent wins by the Biden administration.
Regardless, though, now is not the time to take our eyes off the ball. If we do not retain the House and expand our majority in the Senate, whether Trump is indicted or not will be irrelevant. The Biden agenda will be dead in the water, the House will likely seek to indict him under Republican control, and the Senate will sit stagnant for two years until the 2024 election.
Another looming question is indeed how Trump’s potential indictment would impact the 2024 presidential race. There is no question that DeSantis, who is a better organized, less impulsive, and more palatable fascist than Donald Trump, is the frontrunner.
One of my serious concerns is that an indictment of Trump might cause some among us to become complacent about the 2024 election. Make no mistake about it: the threat of American fascism will be emboldened by his indictment, and will seek to make him a martyr. We will have to continue to organize and fight for the survival of democracy, whether Trump is indicted or not.
There’s not going to be any let up, in other words, and it’s important to be prepared for that.
We’re at a turning point in American history. The prospect of an indictment of a former president, let alone for the theft and possible sale of our highest level state secrets, is very real, and living through this time, when history is made daily, is anything but easy.
We can’t let up. We can’t back down. We must continue to organize, whether or not he is indicted, like democracy is on the line.
Because it is.
Want to make a difference in the midterm elections? Consider joining us for RISE, our activist/leader bootcamp, which has trained more than 1000 people already to organize in their communities, mobilize for causes they care about, and even run for office. Class starts a week from tomorrow and runs for eight weeks, and you can do it from anywhere. Join us.