Emil Guillermo: Pondering the historic indictment in New York, and the first presidential mugshot?
I’m still in Manhattan, performing in a play off-Broadway at Theater for the New City.
Being in the city has totally impacted my perspective on everything.
I’m not a New York tourist, I’m more like a working resident. Acting like a New Yorker.
That’s not to say I’m brash or rude, but when it comes to whether there are protests over an impending Trump indictment, New Yorkers seem more concerned about when the cold weather is going away, not when Trump is going away, or with any repeat of Jan. 6.
Judging from New Yorker attitudes, if anyone wants to “take back the government” in the name of Donald Trump, I’d like to see them take on the NYPD.
I’m actually still quite immersed in the play I’m in, Ishmael Reed’s “The Conductor.” It deals with how world events affect local grassroots politics. In Reed’s play, a fictional Indian despot’s actions impact Indian Americans who face a wave of xenophobia and are forced to flee to Canada on an “underground railroad.”
Hence, the need for a “conductor.”
Turns out everyone who is feeling some heat may need one to flee the U.S.
In the play, it makes for some strange bedfellows.
“The Conductor” runs through March 26. Get tickets here to see it in person or livestreamed.
Reed wasn’t so prescient to include the possibility of a Trump indictment or four in a storyline, but being in New York this week makes me wonder if the twice-impeached former president of the United States would soon need a “conductor.”
To get to Canada? After all he’s said about Justin Trudeau?
I was thinking out loud with Asian American Studies Prof. Daniel Phil Gonzales on my Emil Amok’s Takeout on www.amok.com (Episode 489/481).
We go beyond whether Trump will get indicted and go straight to wondering if Trump will get convicted for any of the cases that are brewing (from minor to major, they are cases that include the New York hush money/Stormy Daniels/falsifying of documents; Georgia voter fraud; the Mar-a-Lago stolen presidential documents; and events connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection). If he lost any one of them, would Trump even have the courage of a Martha Stewart to don a matching orange jumpsuit? Or does he just flat out leave the country?
Gonzales says he leaves. But to where?
I think Trump has his Putin parachute ready under his left arm. And under his right arm, there’s his North Korean parachute fashioned together with love letters from Kim Jong Un.
Ah, a former president in exile because he dared to want to be president again?
That’s the narrative the Republicans are drumming up, as if all this legal drama is merely political and that no laws were broken (that we know of). Or as Trump said over the weekend, it’s all a “witch hunt.” (If I were a Wiccan, I would be offended by his continued use of the term.)
Republicans can bad mouth the legal process all they want, but it’s another thing to intimidate the New York DA with threats of congressional investigations.
What’s worse is that the law and order Republicans can’t see they have a blind spot for the rule of law when their own fearful leader is the perp in violation of laws.
Trump’s reaction was simply to go half-cocked, not even knowing what the charges are. But most appalling is his “go to”—the call for violence.
“Protest, protest, protest,” Trump wrote in his social media posts over the weekend. The twice impeached former president, who wants to be president again, respects the law so much that his best response to an indictment in New York is to throw a dictator’s tantrum.
This is a man who doesn’t understand American democracy, and didn’t deserve to be president even once.
I find it astonishing that it’s not just leading Republicans, but even some in our communities who are still supporting the twice impeached former pres.
When it comes to Asian Americans running for president, Nikki Haley is still mum. But there’s Vivek Ramaswamy, the anti-woke Indian American rushing to Trump’s defense.
“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Ramaswamy said on Twitter.
But that’s not what’s happening. There’s no ruling party sending in goons. If an indictment comes down, there will be a case, with evidence that will be weighed by a judge and jury.
“This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself,” Ramaswamy continued. “I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic.”
Of course, by undermining Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Ramaswamy is precisely undermining public trust and creating his own “dark moment in American history.”
Bragg, a Harvard College and Harvard Law graduate, grew up in Harlem and knows what it’s like to be stopped by police for no good reason other than one’s race. He has said his prosecutors will not be intimidated.
It’s important that this first case go through. America needs to let it sink in slowly. The case involving hush money to a porn star may not be so insignificant if falsified documents were involved, and if the payoff of Daniels to keep quiet had any impact on Trump’s campaign (it probably would have exacerbated that Access Hollywood tape, which came out at the same time).
If Bragg’s indictment comes down this week or next, Trump will get booked, fingerprinted, and photographed. He will be treated both like a former president and a common criminal. No man is above some kind of perp walk, right? That’s never happened before in history. Will it make him more popular? That’s some spin. No democracy-loving American would vote for an indicted outlaw for president a second time. This isn’t like loving a WWF villain. It’s the presidency.
Just getting the first indictment out is important. It should clear the way for Fulton County DA Fani Willis, another African American with a sense of justice. Asian Americans know her zeal. It was two years since the Atlanta spa killings last week and Willis is still pursuing hate crime enhancements and the death penalty for the already convicted shooter Robert Aaron Long.
In the Trump matters, the possibility of racketeering charges coming out of the Atlanta grand jury have now been raised.
And this is before we get to the presidential papers case or the Jan. 6 case that could result in indictments. We almost need the New York case as a first stress test for the larger legal battles ahead.
Just to let it sink in.
The majority party in the House continues to back a man who could be a common criminal.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) decried all the politics and said he just wants to see equal justice for all. That’s a hoot.
We all do, especially those of us in the BIPOC community, where equal justice is too often hard to come by. Ask Tyre Nichols’ family in Memphis.
I can’t wait to see the first presidential mug shot.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.
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The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.