Published August 29, 2023
There are no heroes in the saga of the Trump mugshot.
The former president’s booking photo, taken in Georgia after his fourth indictment, is already iconic. For his haters, it is a sign that he is finally being brought to justice for his many misdeeds. For his devotees, it symbolizes how their champion is being relentlessly persecuted by a hypocritical and corrupt establishment. They’re both right and, therefore, both wrong.
None of these people respect our historical norms, the rule of law, or even the Constitution. Trump’s behavior following the 2020 election was atrocious, even by his low standards. Yet Trump’s enemies have consistently used his awfulness as an excuse for their own. For example, though the 2020 election was not stolen insofar as it was not decided by fraudulent votes, Democrats undoubtedly played very dirty—just look at Big Tech’s suppression of the bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story. And now they are bringing a spate of legally dubious indictments against Trump as he runs for president again. The strongest of these charges, related to mishandling of classified material after he left office, is reminiscent of what Hillary Clinton was let off the hook for.
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Nathanael Blake is a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.