Indictment Day 2023Tagged:
Yesterday in the US, we experimented with a possible new national commemorative holiday: Indictment Day for Donald Trump.
Today the @IndictmentsOnly account at Twitter proved its usefulness:
Yes, others related to Trump have been indicted (George Santos – who is sort of a House avatar of Trump’s constant lying –, Trump aide Walt Nauta, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, etc.). And it’s even true that Trump has been himself indicted (NY sexual assault case, but it’s a civil case since the statute of limitations has expired) and convicted.
But there are several other criminal and civil cases pending!
But this is the first one that’s a criminal case, and a federal one at that: apparently (the indictment is still sealed) 7 charges including illegal handling of classified documents, obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, and possibly the espionage act if he showed them to others. (Given the huge Saudi payment to Jared soon after, this seems likely.)
The others pending, as of today, seem to be, according to a nice summary yesterday at Business Insider :
- 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, in NY state court
- Attempted overthrow of an election and intimidation of an elections official, in GA state court. (The Federal Department of Justice is also investigating this.)
- A second defamation accusation by E Jean Carroll, given he defamed her immediately after being found liable for defaming her in NY court.
- A charge of campaign finance fraud, based on the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
- … and quite the collection of other cases.
It’s taken a long, long time to get here, at sometimes-glacial speed. We may all have our discontents with our institutions, of course. But sometimes their slowness is due to deliberation and the need to get the facts exactly right, not just sorta right. And now we’re here. Finally.
The actor George Takei, who played Sulu on StarTrek:TOS, seems to have quite a head on his shoulders for coming up with incisive summaries. Here on this Crummy Little Blog That Nobody Reads (CLBTNR), we have previously quoted him favorably on the duty to find hope in difficult circumstances, the case in point for him being the shameful Japanese detention camps in the US during WWII.
Today on Mastodon, he “explained” the interaction between Trump indictments, climate change, why Canada is currently on fire, and the execrable air quality in New York. I mean, it’s not factually true, but it makes perfect sense in mythic terms, no?
“That pretty much sums it up.” – Oz, played by Seth Green, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 2, episode 13, “Surprise”. The character Oz rarely shows much emotion outside his love for Willow, and is never surprised. But when the situation calls for surprise, he’s there for you. Here he was told he was attending a surprise birthday party for Buffy, but got a surprise of a different sort for himself, upon seeing Buffy stake a vampire in front of him. “Surprise!”, indeed. (Sorry the video loops. Feel free to help me out and show me how to squelch that particular misbehavior.)
I first got the news last night (while sitting in Boston Symphony Hall, pondering some weirdness around Rimsky-Korsakov, but that’s a story for tomorrow’s post). The NYT had immediate coverage , and as is always the case with rapidly developing stories, live updates that continue even to the present moment a day later. Read through it for yourself to catch up on the updates, or look at whatever the NYT folk come up with after a day or two to put it all in context.
There’s also a similar series of live updates from NPR , just in case you want a different set of reporters making their case to you.
Interestingly, they chose to bring the indictment in Florida instead of DC. It’s much more likely that there will be a Trump-favorable judge in whackaloon conservative Florida than in largely Democratic DC. It could be an effort to bend over backward and give Trump every chance, or it could be that there are other indictments for crimes that occurred only in Florida (say, hiding documents at Mar a Lago, or the pool draining that flooded the server room and destroyed surveillance footage prosecutors wanted). We’ll see.
Hoo, boy: as I’m writing this on 2023-Jun-09, news come out that the federal judge in Florida who will oversee this case against Trump was US District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump himself. 
- I wonder if she will recuse herself, because of the very strong stink of conflict of interest and inability to be unbiased?
- Or will she stick with the case:
- If so, a conviction will stick all the harder, given that Trump already had a hand in choosing his own judge, against all precedent.
- Alternatively, Cannon now has the power to prevent the case from ever going to a jury to protect Trump. Or she could reduce the sentence to a hand-slap, instead of serious prison time.
Bringing this case in Florida was a risky move; risk, thy name be Aileen Cannon! Everything depends on what kind of person she turns out to be. The augurs do not look good: she’s the whackaloon who ruled in favor of Trump’s request to appoint a special master last summer to review the documents taken from Mar a Lago, which temporarily deprived federal prosecutors of access to the documents.  Fortunately, this bizarreness was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, but still… if you find you’re always narrowly averting disaster, you’re courting disaster too closely!
… aaaannnd, breaking news: as I was writing this, 2023-Jun-09 Fri 2:30pm, I got a notification from the venerable Globe that the indictment has been unsealed along with reactions from historians , and access to the indictment document itself (and just in case it gets “disappeared” by an unfortunate draining of a swimming pool, we’ve archived a copy here on Some Weekend Reading, a totally-above-suspicion CLBTNR). 
“Before, during, and after his presidency, Trump has flouted the law. When he was in office, he purportedly destroyed documents (or had others destroy them) in violation of federal law,” Michael J. Gerhardt, the Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at University of North Carolina Law School, said by e-mail. “Since leaving the presidency, he has lied about the documents in his possession, and now the bill has come due.”
The famous historian of the American presidency, Michael Beschloss, when asked about Trump and classified documents, has previously pointed out that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg gave US nuclear secrets to Moscow and thus were executed in June 1953 for approximately the same crime as Trump.  I’m… not fond of the idea of capital punishment, but admit the precedent fits.
Here’s what he had to say yesterday:
Respected Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe had this to say:
Who knew Tribe was a Star Wars fan who liked title inversions?
So that’s it for Indictment Day. Should we break out the recipe for La Famiglia Scalzi’s famous Schadenfreude Pie?  (Go ahead, click through the footnote to the reference. It’s worth it. I’ll just wait here for you.)
I think not, for 2 reasons:
- A taste for schadenfreude is a shameful thing, and so it Just Will Not Do to dive into it so early and so eagerly.
- There will be other important days to commemorate:
- Arraignment Day, apparently next Tuesday, when Trump will have to appear in court,
- Conviction Day, when some semblance of law and order will be restored to the US, and
- Sentencing Day, when we can all breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to hearing nothing about the imprisoned Donald Trump ever again (until, perhaps, a funeral announcement).
Whether his wreck of the Republican Party will pull back from the brink of their Fascist Cliffs of Insanity is another matter!
The Weekend Conclusion
Looking forward to Sentencing Day, and and small slice of that sweet, dark and bitter Scalzi Schadenfreude Pie.
I mean, just look at it. Just look at it!
Notes & References
1: L Italiano, J Shamsian, & J Swearingen, “Donald Trump’s docket: All the legal cases and investigations Trump faces including federal charges over classified documents”, Business Insider, 2023-Jun-08. ↩
3: Various Authors, “Live updates: Trump faces 37 federal counts in the grand jury’s indictment”, NPR, starting 2023-Jun-08, with live updates still coming in a day later. ↩
4: Washington Desk, “The judge assigned to oversee Trump’s criminal case was appointed by Trump himself”, NPR, 2023-Jun-09. ↩
5: D Shivaram, C Johnson, “Federal judge grants Trump’s special master request to review Mar-a-Lago materials”, NPR, 2022-Sep-05. ↩
6: JR Ellement, “‘The great strength of democracy is that the law is being asserted here.’ Historians react to news of Donald Trump’s classified document indictment.”, Boston Globe, 2023-Jun-09. ↩
7: No Author Attributed, “Read the unsealed indictment of Donald Trump in the classified documents case”, Boston Globe, 2023-Jun-09.
NB: Just in case this document gets “disappeared” somehow, perhaps by someone draining a swimming pool into a server room as happened at Mar a Lago, we’ve archived our own little copy of the indictment document here. ↩
8: M Schaffer, “The Radicalization of Washington’s Most Famous Historian: Michael Beschloss is still neutral about everything—except the biggest issue of all”, Politico, 2022-Sep-16. ↩