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AS I SEE IT: Nobody is above the law, not even Trump!

I’m witnessing history in the making (actually all of us are) as former President Donald Trump entered a Manhattan courtroom, fingerprinted and waited to be arraigned.

Trump waved when he arrived at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 04, 2023 in New York, New York. He was arraigned during his first court appearance following an indictment by a grand jury that heard evidence about money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. With the indictment, Trump became the first former U.S. president in history to be charged with a criminal offense who is actively campaigning for another term in the White House.

This unprecedented development was being watched by millions of Americans because it will surely impact the forthcoming 2024 presidential election and the fate of the nation in general. The ripple effects will be felt by all concerned and may even spill over the affairs of the government, both federal and local, in their discharge of their functions. It might also affect the economy and other sectors of society. That’s how significant his indictment/arraignment/trial is for us to be concerned with.

Trump was indicted by the Grand Jury of New York for paying hash money to silence Stormy Daniels who allegedly had sexual relationship with him before the 2020 presidential elections.

The indictment has generated mixed emotions among Republicans, Democrats and the ordinary Americans. This is the first ever for a former President of the United States to be indicted and criminally charged.

My friends said, “It’s high time somebody got the nerve…” and others say “it’s unfair and not properly done for a former president…” Well, whatever the current generated by the latest court decision, it will surely follow its course and we just hope it will be properly conducted under the rule of law.

The process of the court proceedings was in place and just like any other person criminally charged, he was fingerprinted and faced the judge and the jury who will be prosecuting him for the offenses charged.

Donald Trump pleads Not Guilty to 34 felony counts as details of indictment were unsealed (Virginia Chamlee, People/Politics). He sat at the defense table with his defense team in a Manhattan court in New York City after pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, multiple outlets report, following an investigation into an alleged hush money payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels while he was a presidential candidate in 2016.

The 34 counts of criminal charges stemmed from eight checks issued by him falsifying business records and alleged money payments to Daniels to silence her as it may affect his 2016 presidential campaign. Previous prosecutors maintain that the charges against him are strongso As I See It, his future in the criminal court seem to be stormy too!

The investigation that led to unprecedented charges against the former president traces back to an alleged affair Trump had with Daniels, rumors of which surfaced in 2018, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to the ex-porn star a month before the 2016 election so she’d keep quiet about the alleged sexual encounter they’d had years earlier. (Virginia Chamlee, People/Politics).

While Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen initially denied the claims of an affair, Cohen later admitted that there was a payment made to the porn star in the amount $130,000. As told to The New York Times, he labeled the payment as “a private transaction,” paid out of his own pocket in 2016, but he said Trump had not reimbursed him although he has since admitted he authorized the payment.

That was a payment to allegedly to silence Daniels from talking, yet…Trump claimed there was no sexual encounters that transpired.

Okay, so Trump will go through the process, just like any other person criminally charged, but what will happen next?

Now that Trump has pleaded not guilty, the arraignment starts and the judge, together with the grand jury, will prosecute the case.

That same day, he flew back to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida and addressed his supporters saying the charges were politically motivated. He even started attacking the judge’s family and calling Judge Alvin Bragg as “criminal”.

The judge didn’t issue a gag order but warned Trump not to talk about the merits of the case but Trump ignored this and even resorted to character assassination by calling the judge “criminal” and attacking his family despite court’s warning.

What will happen next? Well, As I See It, it will be a long process with Trump calling the cases to be dismissed and his team of lawyers filing motions to delay the trial. It was theorized that it may last for months, even years, as the rule of law has to be in effect giving both sides the rights they deserve.

Okay, if this is the case, what are possible scenarios that will happen while the case is being heard?

Despite the charges, Trump will continue to campaign for his second term of office by 2024. He is seeking the party endorsement but has to contend with many GOP presidential contenders wanting also to be president. While the biggest rival is in Florida Governor Ron DeSanctis, who has yet to announce formally his candidacy, about 12 more party mates are trying to oppose him. I think the more GOP candidates, the better chances for Trump to be officially endorsed. He needs only about 25% to 35% support from GOP to be able to be nominated as the party standard bearer.

If he does not get the party nomination, I think he will still; run for president as an independent candidate. Knowing him, he will do everything to bolster his ego and he thinks he will be able to do it because he thrives on controversies. He did it before, so he thinks he can do it again.

The worst scenario is for him to withdraw from the presidency and become a kingmaker. With the millions of dollars in his campaign chest mostly generated from the fund-raising efforts due to his arraignment, he will be able to catapult a candidate of his choice.

Fellow Americans, will you support Trump when you go to the polls in 2024?

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments, email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.)