The New York TimesThe New York Times

The politics of a Trump indictment

By Ross Douthat

22 Mar 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Would an indictment help Donald Trump or hurt him in his quest to reclaim the Republican nomination and the presidency? It's not quite as simple as you might think, writes NYT columnist Ross Douthat.

If you intend to indict and try a former president of the United States, especially a former president of the United States whose career has benefited from the collapse of public trust in the neutrality of all our institutions, you had better have clear evidence, all-but-obvious guilt and loads of legal precedent behind your case.

The case that New York prosecutors are apparently considering bringing against Donald Trump, over hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels that may have violated campaign finance laws, does not have the look of a slam dunk. The use of the phrase “novel legal theory” in descriptions of what the case might entail is not encouraging.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content