America has been in suspense since Donald Trump predicted last week that he would be arrested.
The only New York City police officer was ordered to report to work in full uniform to face potential disturbances from Mr. Trump’s fans in case his prediction came true. And some, but not many, supporters of the twice-deposed ex-president showed up to protest outside the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the man who has now become the first prosecutor ever to face charges against a former president for his investigation into a 2016 hush money scheme to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels from wasting the beans over a decade-old liaison before voters went to the polls.
A grand jury in Manhattan voted to indict Trump on Thursday, March 30.
Recent coverage in The New York Times and other outlets noted that the former president has said he enjoys the idea of being arrested and paraded before the press in a “perp walk” spectacle, as he believes it will boost his support. in the Republican presidential primaries will undermine and solidify his chances of returning to the White House after next year’s general election.
But several people who have had a close relationship with Trump in the past and understand his mindset say the confidence he exudes in interviews and public appearances belies a total inability to understand what it means for him to become a defendant in a criminal case.
These former Trumpworld insiders told The Independent that for decades the ex-president has evaded accountability for his actions and his ability to neutralize legal dangers with a combination of blunder and litigation tactics has left him incredibly ill-equipped for what lies ahead now the Mahattan Grand Jury has voted for an indictment.
One such ex-insider is Mary Trump, the best-selling author and trained clinical psychologist who happens to be Mr. Trump’s niece.
Dr. Trump, who said in her 2020 tell-all Too Much and Never Enough that her uncle’s “pathologies are so complex and his behavior so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests which he will never sit,” told The Independent in a telephone interview that the bravado he might present to receptive journalists will vanish once he is actually charged with a crime. Dr. Trump spoke to The Independent ahead of the charges against the former president.
“I think a big part of what he does is he preamps and he deflects… his ego is very, very fragile, and a lot of what he does serves to protect it, and one of the biggest dangers for him is to humiliated,” she said.
She also mentioned reports that her uncle finds the idea of a perpwalk “absurd.”
“I don’t care who you are, that’s an incredibly vulnerable place to be. And it’s not like they walk you through it, and then you can decide [you] don’t want to do this. There’s no body there, it’s going to be the most vulnerable and powerless…he’s probably ever been in his life,” she said. “And lastly, I’ve checked, fingerprints have been taken and taking your mugshot is not a sign of strength”.
Given Mr. Trump’s status as an ex-president and his full-time Secret Service protection detail, the experience of being charged with a crime will not be the same as that of an average criminal defendant. While fingerprints and photos are still being taken of him, it is unlikely that he will be handcuffed, and his lawyers have already indicated that he will voluntarily turn himself in to New York authorities after being charged rather than force an extradition battle in courts in Florida.
Still, Dr. Trump said her uncle’s psychological nature makes it impossible for him to understand that the allegations against him are real, rather than just something political that can be brushed off with sheer gaffe.
“Part of the problem for him right now is that this is all incomprehensible to this degree,” she said.
She noted that to many of his enemies, it always seemed like the “walls were closing in on him” and responsibility was just around the corner, only to see him slip away to be held accountable for his behavior. She added that his ability to dodge consequences has left him ill-prepared for what’s to come.
“He needs to prepare for something he’s never experienced before. It is foreign to him, and it also embodies the one thing that most terrifies him: to be humiliated. But on the other hand, he can’t possibly process that it’s going to happen because it never happened. So he’s in a real deficit now,” she said.
There is no question that Trump has spent decades avoiding entanglements in criminal prosecutions. That ability to evade the reach of the law was bolstered during his presidency by a longstanding Justice Department policy prohibiting federal charges against sitting presidents. tied himself in knots in his written report and congressional testimony on whether the then president was obstructing justice by attempting to thwart the investigation in multiple ways.
But Mr. Trump is no longer president, and despite suggestions from Republicans in the House of Representatives that it is somehow inappropriate to charge a former president or presidential candidate with a crime, the shield of accountability he once enjoyed, gone.
Multiple federal courts have also made it clear in recent weeks that his efforts to claim some form of executive privilege to prevent former aides from testifying before a pair of federal grand juries overseen by Mr. Supreme Court precedents dating back to the Watergate era.
George Conway, the conservative lawyer Trump once asked to run the Justice Department’s civil division, told The Independent that Trump’s supposed eagerness to become a martyr by facing charges is “complete bulls***.”
“You can see the terror in his Truth Social posts — he absolutely loves this. And it may turn out that he wants to make a spectacle of rallying his troops to appear tough. It’ll look weak when he’s dragged to court in handcuffs. So, you know, he’s got a lose-lose proposition,’ he said.
Mr Conway, who rose to prominence as a critic of the ex-president while his then-wife Kellyanne Conway served as a senior aide to Mr Trump, said the usual tactics of procrastination and intimidation used by the ex-president in civil litigation were are not flying if the ex-president is on the wrong side of a criminal case against him.
The veteran trial attorney also noted that as a criminal defendant, Mr. Trump will face something else he’s never encountered before: a judge with the power to impose conditions of parole that would affect his ability to travel and speak freely. speak about his case, or even take his liberty completely if he decides to ignore the restrictions imposed on him.
While both New York and the federal justice system fail to release defendants before trial, a judge’s decision to release a defendant almost always comes with conditions.
In the federal system, this means that Mr. Trump will almost certainly be required to give the courts advance notice of his travel schedule, and he may need permission to travel.
A person who spoke to The Independent about the mindset of the ex-president — a former aide who had a close relationship with the Trump family for many years but who asked not to be named because of Mr Trump’s tendency to get out and send his followers after his critics – said it will be nearly impossible for the former president to comply with even the most lenient terms because he doesn’t understand the law like normal people.
The former Trump family confidante said Mr Trump’s moral compass is so non-existent that he cannot fathom how and why a judge could tell him what to do, what he can and cannot say, or where he can go. .
Add to that the ex-president’s disdain for the idea that he would be held accountable by prosecutors in the first place, and you have a good chance that Mr. Trump will end up on the wrong side of a gag order — or worse.
Mr Conway, who has practiced law in New York courts for most of his career, told The Independent that it would take “a measure of courage” on the part of the lawyer assigned to handle Mr Trump’s case prevent him from using his usual tactics of intimidation. and blunder to poison any potential jury pool and pit his supporters against prosecutors, jurors, or even the courts.
But he said there are judges who are fully capable of addressing the ex-president’s conduct, citing the example of the New York federal judge who recently issued an order allowing the jury in the defamation trials to and rape of the writer E Jean Carroll against Mr. Trump may stay. anonymously.
That judge, Lewis Kaplan, is not giving a shit about Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit, he said, adding that Judge Kaplan or someone like him would be the “perfect” candidate to hear a lawsuit against the ex-president.
“I think to control this guy from inciting violence, a judge is going to have to show some real cojones,” he said, still weighing the former president’s First Amendment rights with the need to maintain the integrity of the justice system.
“Because he’s a criminal defendant, and [he] can influence the jury, can muzzle a judge [him] … but it is a very difficult position.”
All former Trump aides who spoke to The Independent agreed that it’s quite possible that the quickest route to the former president’s imprisonment is via violating a judge’s order between his indictment and trial.
But a former confidante, Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, said his former client would do more than push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say and do once he’s indicted.
When reached by text message, he said Trump is “unable to hold himself accountable.”
“Becoming a criminal defendant and having to be prosecuted and tortured is in direct conflict with his inflated self-image and fragile ego,” he said.
Cohen, who spent more than a year in federal custody and an additional two years in house arrest after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the same hush money scheme that Bragg indicted the ex-president, said Trump “fully understands” that his usual methods of threats, delays, and yelling about supposed witch hunts don’t work, suggesting knowledge makes him more dangerous.
“It’s why he has stepped up attacks against anyone he considers a threat,” he said.
The former attorney, who may be a star witness in Bragg’s case against Trump, also said his former employer won’t respond well if a judge imposes conditions on him. Cohen testified more than once before the Manhattan grand jury.
“Donald will play the victim and call on his supporters to protest in solidarity with him. He will lie to his supporters, blame the situation and incite civil unrest,” he said.
Donald would rather see the country burn than take responsibility.