Indictment of former president triggers political, social, legal unknowns
We'll get to the political reverberations of this earth-shaking event, unprecedented across 46 presidencies throughout the 247-year life of the American nation.
This singular event is the impending arrest of Donald Trump, and the country will have ample time to dissect its potential consequences at the ballot box.
There are more pressing concerns. A police officer confided recently that he and colleagues had been talking for months about how to protect their local courthouse if Trump ever faced charges in their city.
It's no longer hypothetical: Trump will become the first former president charged with a crime, a Manhattan prosecutor confirmed Thursday, and he's expected to surrender within days.
But before we get to an election, or even a trial, there's the more immediate issue troubling those aforementioned police officers.
Can this unfold without anyone getting hurt?
Trump plans to keep running and has begun using apocalyptic language to describe the 2024 election: "This is the final battle," Trump has said in recent speeches, declaring that if he loses the country will be over.
The accused has a history of stirring up a mob. And if he's been tempered by the experience of Jan. 6, he hasn't demonstrated it one bit.
In just the last few days, Trump has warned of potential death and destruction if he's charged. He's called for protests, as is his constitutional right.
He also posted a photo of himself holding a baseball bat beside the prosecutor's picture and said it was accidental.
He held his first 2024 campaign rally in Waco, Tex., site of a notorious deadly standoff pitting a cult against federal law enforcement.
He began that rally with a tribute to the Jan. 6 mob, holding his hand over his heart, listening to a song recorded by convicts from the Capitol attack.
He later said he feels like Elvis because that song topped the charts. He's talking about pardons for some of the Jan. 6 convicts, if he's re-elected.
"Insane," is how one Fox News personality, Brian Kilmeade, described Trump's decision to highlight the insurrection at last weekend's rally.
Fox News, however, overwhelmingly defended Trump on Thursday, with Sean Hannity's prime-time show carrying a screen title labelling the case a witch hunt.
A researcher who studies political violence, Robert Pape, has been conducting surveys at the University of Chicago and has polled Americans about this.
His latest one, this January, found that six percent of respondents believe use of force is justified in response to a possible Trump arrest.
That amounts to nearly 20 million people, millions of them armed.
So let's mark the potential social fallout as: To be determined. Could there be economic effects too?
Let's see if Marjorie Taylor Greene gains momentum with her demand to make defunding other, federal criminal investigations into Trump a condition for raising the U.S. debt ceiling, to avoid a catastrophic U.S. debt default later this year.
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