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Trump Indictment Is Going to Make US Politics Even More Divisive

Public faith in the criminal justice system was already eroding—thanks in large part to the former president.

TrumpPhotographer: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury on March 30 is another grim marker of American civic decline that could lead to any number of outcomes—none of them good. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the former president with falsifying business records to conceal hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, sources told Bloomberg News. Anticipating his indictment, Trump had already taken to social media to urge his supporters to conduct protests and warned of “potential death and destruction” if he was charged, moves that echoed his call to arms in the days before the attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. With Trump’s arrest apparently imminent, the country is rocketing forward into a new, explosive and even more bitterly divided partisan era.

Trump’s latest controversy is unprecedented in American history, yet at the same time wearyingly familiar. Joe Biden may be president, but Trump still dominates headlines and shapes US politics. While he may no longer occupy the White House, his indictment guarantees he isn’t going away. This alone marks Trump as different from earlier presidents, who have traditionally withdrawn from public life after losing reelection.