Opinion: Trump needs to fight not for honor, money, or power, but for his freedom, as he has to prove his innocence, and that is a perilous situation for someone who wants to lead a country and simultaneously has to escape a ‘guilty’ verdict

For over two centuries, the United States has managed to avoid prosecuting a former president for criminal offenses. Despite deserving serious indictment and possibly even a prison sentence, Richard Nixon was granted an immediate pardon by newly inaugurated President Gerald Ford who won the presidency after Nixon decided to resign.

Apart from Nixon, U.S. presidents have typically focused on building a legacy, which involves establishing presidential libraries, writing books, and promoting them. Some of the most notable presidents, like Jimmy Carter, have managed to establish themselves as international intermediaries and make a name for themselves on the global stage.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump
(Photo: EPA)

Donald J. Trump was not a typical president, nor is he an ordinary former president. His potential candidacy for the 2024 election is unprecedented, largely due to his age. Now, he has added yet another precedent to his already unique record: He is the first former president in history to face criminal charges.

Although the New York State grand jury that has decided to prosecute him has not yet disclosed all the details of the indictment, it is known to be related to the Stormy Daniels case, which is a highly controversial and polarizing issue.

The pornographic actress with whom Trump engaged in sexual activity was paid off in exchange for her silence, which is not inherently illegal. However, it is alleged that the funds used for this payment came from Trump’s business empire, rather than his own finances.

Some of these allegations suggest that the transactions were conducted in a way that obstructed justice and involved false documentation. If these charges are included in the indictment, they carry a sentence of at least one year and up to four years in prison. Trump’s legal team was taken aback by the timing of the indictment and immediately engaged in a back-and-forth exchange of accusations. They had anticipated the prosecution to come at a later time.

(Photo: Reuters)

In the coming days, Trump is expected to travel to New York and willingly undergo a detention process at the Manhattan court. He will be accompanied by Secret Service agents, as is typical for former White House residents. After his court appearance, he will be released, initiating a legal process.

However, it could be argued that the legal proceedings themselves are of minor importance. Trumpism is deeply disliked by the state of New York, its institutions, and its citizens. As a result, it may be difficult to ensure that he receives a fair trial in New York.

Nevertheless, the next stage in this situation is crucial as it involves unprecedented circumstances. Never before has a former U.S. president been indicted, nor has a major candidate faced prosecution during a presidential race.

Currently, Trump is leading in most polls, even against his toughest opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been struggling in recent weeks.

Trump has been handed a unique opportunity to make use of the massive free media coverage, positioning himself as a victim of a political witch hunt, and using this as a means to raise significant donations from supporters who are determined to demonstrate that the “deep state” cannot prevail.

Donald Trump
(Photo: EPA)

This all must sound familiar. As the most successful Western leader Trump can rely on is Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite clear personality differences – Trump once accused Netanyahu of disloyalty in a vulgar tirade – the two share many similarities. Both are leaders of the populist right, and both are controversial figures internationally, drawing significant criticism from the center-left.

While Netanyahu is a more conservative and organized figure than Trump, he, like Trump, has been willing to push boundaries (allegedly) to achieve political success. Netanyahu has faced legal challenges related to his media image, including the ongoing cases 2000 and 4000, and a desire to revamp his public image.

In Trump’s case, he was similarly driven by his image and was willing to go to great lengths to protect it, which included hiding many secrets. The Stormy Daniels scandal is just one example of this.

The indictment of Netanyahu, a first against a sitting prime minister in Israel, has reinforced a narrative on the Israeli right that they are being unfairly persecuted.

Similarly, the indictment of Trump, the first against a former U.S. president, is already shaping a new narrative for Trumpian Republicanism that portrays Trump as a victim of the New York justice system.

There are also other significant investigations against Trump underway, including those related to his role in the events of the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and his attempts to intervene in the 2020 election results in Georgia.

Both Netanyahu and Trump are individuals who understand that they need to fight not for honor, money, or power, but for their freedom. If they cannot prove their innocence, they may end up in prison. This is a perilous situation for someone who wants to lead a country and simultaneously needs to escape a “guilty” verdict.

While America is entering uncharted territory in this regard, Israelis have been exploring this territory in the shadows for a long time. They have discovered that the populist right is uniting, the leader is becoming stronger but more fearful, and the shadows are only growing longer and ultimately changing the country itself. Now, all that remains is to see what America will do.

As reported by Ynetnews