Former President Donald Trump has been indicted and arrested. The first ex-president charged with a crime, Trump has been indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Though he himself predicted the indictment weeks earlier, Trump nonetheless feigned shock when the charges were made official.
“Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL,” said Trump in a message shared on his social media platform Truth Social. “WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America. MAGA!”
Special procedures were used in Trump’s arrest. Most notably, no mugshot was taken and he was not handcuffed. New York State law requires authorities to take fingerprints of anyone charged with a felony, but are given discretion on whether to take a mugshot. The authorities likely decided against a mugshot for security reasons, as well as considering the abundance of preexisting photos of the former president available.
As the 2024 presidential election nears, questions are being raised about what effect Trump’s indictment will have on his electability. And as discussions about the former president sweep the country, so too have those discussions permeated into campus life.
“I was somewhat surprised to hear of Trump’s indictment, but at the same time it’s yet another thing in a long line of controversy from the former president,” said Blake Discher ’26, a democrat on campus. “In that way, it’s not unexpected.”
But while some students see the indictment as the latest in a saga of Trump scandals, others view it as an act of the former president’s political perseverance as he weathers attacks from the media.
“Trump has always been a polarizing figure, that is his personality,” said Gavinn Alstott ’25, president of the College Republicans. “But the media is just as polarizing, which doesn’t mix well. As most people know, Trump has been at the center of many media scandals that involved Russia, January 6, Mar O’ Lago and even his Twitter account. In my opinion, this current indictment is just another notch on his resume, and what a resume that is.”
Trump, who is currently running to regain the presidency in 2024, has long painted the many accusations of law-breaking against him as merely political con-jobs. Recently, Trump shared a message on Truth Social encouraging the defunding of the FBI and DOJ, a stark contrast to the usual Republican talking points of ensuring funding of Law Enforcement agencies.
“REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS SHOULD DEFUND THE DOJ AND FBI UNTIL THEY COME TO THEIR SENSES,” said Trump in his message. “THE DEMOCRATS HAVE TOTALLY WEAPONIZED LAW ENFORCEMENT IN OUR COUNTRY AND ARE VISCOUSLY USING THE ABUSE OF POWER TO INTERFERE WITH OUR ALREADY UNDER SIEGE ELECTIONS.”
In reality, increasing funding for the DOJ, of which the FBI is part, seems to be a bipartisan habit as both former President Trump and current President Joe Biden have called for the department’s funding to be increased during their terms.
Some see Trump’s indictment as a rallying cry for Republicans to come together and unify for their support of Trump, while others fear the legal entanglement will disenfranchise independents from swinging for Trump.
“Ultimately, due to the polarization of the media, I think everyone is firmly in their camps and this won’t change many people’s minds,” said Discher. Other students seemed to agree.
“The indictment of President Trump will only backfire on the left, as it will only serve to rally Trump supporters more than ever,” said Jerry McBee ’26. “Trump’s supporters will see this as a political attack and will thoroughly demonstrate their unwavering support for him.
“This isn’t the first time President Trump has been falsely accused with no evidence, and the left’s attempt to destroy his image is vividly pathetic,” added McBee.
Congressional democrats did not share the same partisan optimism as Wabash students. As Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) said on Twitter, Trump’s indictment is symptomatic of deeper undercurrents in the American political psyche.
“This is not a moment to celebrate,” said Moskowitz. “This is a terrible moment for the country. But no one is above the law. Those ‘Lock her up’ chants that people were chanting like hyenas in a stadium around the country were never funny—perhaps they now understand why.”
While America’s politicians continue to grapple with the indictment, the question on the minds of many Wabash students has been the extent to which Trump’s arraignment is merely a political act.
“I find it upsetting that some people just try to sweep this pressing topic under the rug by saying it’s all for political purposes,” said Discher. “No matter what, we have to trust the law of our country.”
“The question isn’t whether he is guilty of all of these things or not; the question is why Trump keeps going, and ultimately how the American people respond to this perseverance,” said Alstott. “I am not saying Trump is a martyr, but it’s ironic that Trump is someone who is supposedly ‘corrupt,’ yet the media and the Democratic Party can’t take their eyes off of him. Trump is still a threat against the left despite this indictment. At the end of the day, it’s just politics.”