Let us begin with the obvious thing that just happened: This morning, Donald Trump threatened to summon a mob—for the second time in two years—to his defense. The former president of the United States and a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for the White House in 2024, facing a possible indictment in New York, claimed to know the exact day on which he would be arrested and then called on his supporters to “protest.” Trump and his cult know what a call for “protest” means: The last time he rallied his faithful supporters this way, they stormed the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in death and destruction and many, many prison sentences.
Spokespeople from the former president’s office have already walked back Trump’s statement, noting that they have not been told of any specific date for an indictment or an arrest. Indeed, any attempt to book Trump is unlikely to happen as soon as Tuesday, for many reasons. But that’s not the point. Trump’s message today to the American people has already come through loud and clear: I am too dangerous to arrest.
Despite my political feelings about Donald Trump, I am agnostic on whether he should be indicted and arrested for possible financial violations involved in the payoff to the porn star Stormy Daniels. Personally, I have no doubt that he broke the law, and part of me is now growling that if you can get Al Capone for tax evasion instead of murder, file the tax case already. But as my colleague David Frum noted, juries tend to be forgiving of personal misdeeds by political leaders (shown, for example, by the 2011 acquittal of former Democratic Senator John Edwards), and the hush-money scandal is not the strongest possible case against Trump.