In the midst of a comeback, it is quite the comedown.
The courthouse in New York’s Bowery district – aka ‘Skid Row’ before its gentrification – has seen its share of society’s sad cases through the years.
A former president could hardly fall any further.
And yet its to this setting that Donald Trump will be brought for the common criminal treatment, notwithstanding a break with common criminal procedure.
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The court process in lower Manhattan will include the taking of personal details and fingerprints. There will also a photograph taken, the ‘mugshot’ of the Donald in the frame for a felony, potentially.
Trump is said to welcome the prospect of a New York appearance.
He wants the circus, believing it will cast him as the victim in an act of political aggression before an audience that’s sufficiently sympathetic.
It’s already worked for him. When he announced, prematurely, news of his arrest on his social media platform, his fundraising surged to more than $1.5 million.
Trump being Trump stirs his support base, without doubt. But what he carries in close support he drops in those more distant.
The moderate Republicans and swing voters who turned their back on him in 2020, and at the recent mid-term elections, won’t necessarily be turned round by a candidate who is criminally-adjacent on a number of fronts.
Don’t forget that this particular case is the least serious that he faces, compared with investigations into the January 6th insurrection, the handling of classified documents and alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election result in the state of Georgia.
Trump’s claims of a political witch-hunt have found an echo among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Some of the party’s House committee chairmen have called for the prosecuting district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to explain before Congress what they call “a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”
It is the mood music that plays in parallel to this New York case and, they might hope, the others. If Donald Trump can shake it off – and a number of legal experts believe it will be difficult to prosecute – he will undoubtedly portray that as supporting evidence of an overall effort by a weaponised justice system to target him politically.
It is the politics of justice and everyone, it seems, is having a say. In laying criminal charges, justice has begun to speak for itself.
In the meantime, America lives through history as it happens. Serious media organisations publish articles on the practicalities of a felon running the country, chin-stroking on how a conviction could impact on the operational capacity of the leader of the free world.
He is the unprecedented president, as ever.