On Tuesday, March 30th after former president, Donald Trump, was arrested in New York, he became the first former president ever indicted with federal crimes. The indictment including 34 felony counts of business record falsifications centers around a $130,000 payment made from Michael Cohen, Trump’s now former, personal Attorney, to Adult Film star Stormy Daniels. The payment was exchanged days before the 2016 election in late October. The “hush money” was intended to do as such, and cover up an alleged affair between Daniels and Trump from years prior.
The Manhattan’s District Attorney began their five-year-long investigation into Donald Trump during his presidency in the White House, revealing the contents of the indictment on Tuesday to the public.
Though arrested, Trump pleads not guilty to the 34 counts of business record falsification brought forward by the prosecutors. The trial is not predicted to start until early next year.
Emily Pajarillo Kifuthu, a sophomore in Academic Choice (AC) shared her initial reaction of joy and surprise after hearing the news of Trump’s indictment. She explains the historical impact this event might ignite.
“I think it’s crazy that a former president has been indicted on crimes,” Pajarillo Kifuthu said. “I don’t think as a country we fully grasp how crazy that is because like, sure, we’ve had presidents been impeached while they’re in office… But this is a completely different thing. And I think that it says a lot about how what we value in our presidents is kind of changing and maybe kind of going down.”
Concerned for the possible pushback following Trump’s indictment but voicing a similar joy, Sam Matsumoto, a film photography teacher, explains her rationale as to how his indictment might further intensify current tensions in our political climate.
“Sadly, I see it as further polarizing a really already polarized political climate where sort of the Trump brand of politics, it can kind of fire them up and cause further divisiveness,” Matsumoto said. “So I don’t see it as good news in that way at all. And ideally we would have common goals of making our country better and safer and things like that, as opposed to, I see it a lot as theater, as entertainment, which I think a lot of his candidacy and holding office kind of turned it into entertainment spectacle as opposed to like, wow, these decisions and behaviors affect a lot of real life people in their real lives.”
Matsumoto continued: “It’s sad to me that it had to even get to this point, that we as a country allowed that kind of personality to get so far… I think it’s like an embarrassing, sort of shameful incident in our history and it doesn’t make me proud to be an American.”
Joseph Smith, a World History and AP economics teacher in AC expresses similar concerns. Smith explained how, in some ways, Trump may twist his indictment to obtain a larger campaign base.
“He is going to use this to his own benefit because his big argument ever since 2016 is that you, whoever that is, have been wronged by Immigrants, you have been wronged by the liberals, you’ve been wronged by the government, and I will fix your issues,” Smith said. “But now that he’s being indicted, he can now say, I am being wronged, I am the victim now. And so he’s going to use this to drum up more support for his presidential campaign.”
Prior to Trump’s indictment, his election campaign had raised only 14.4 million dollars over the span of three months at the beginning of 2023. After March 30th, over 300,000 individual donations were made accounting for over 15 million dollars towards his presidential campaign. More specifically, 24 hours after the indictment was unsealed, at least 4 million dollars worth of donations were made.
Looking for upsides, Smith reflected on the possible future effects Trump’s indictment may have on whoever steps into the Whitehouse next.
“He’s had such a such a historical impact on his behavior as a president. And, I’m sincerely hoping that these court cases could act as a dampener for the precedent that he set in office,” Smith said. “I’m sincerely hoping that these cases could prevent future authoritarian minded presidents from behaving Trump-Like. Because they could know that even after he leaves office he can’t run away from his crimes forever.”