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Trump’s criminal charges set him apart from other U.S. presidents

Gemma Christie/YJI

Portland, Oregon, U.S.A – The legacy of a former U.S. president is usually viewed through rose-colored glasses. With former President Barack Obama heralded as a champion for affordable medical care, George W. Bush an advocate for HIV/AIDS treatment in Africa and John F. Kennedy as an important figure in the Space Race, former presidents are viewed in a positive light without much controversy after their tenure. 

Donald Trump has fared far differently. Viewed as a highly controversial figure from the beginning of his political career, his legacy remains tumultuous as political polarization, misinformation and consistent political turmoil have remained since his exit from office. 

In the past week, prosecutors in Georgia indicted Trump on 13 counts of violations of state law, including perjury, conspiracy to commit election fraud and forgery during the 2020 election cycle. 

The indictment in Georgia is the fourth against Trump since federal prosecutors brought charges against him in June for allegedly mishandling classified documents. He is expected to turn himself in on Thursday, Aug. 24. 

The 98-page indictment brought by Georgia’s Fulton County grand jury details the actions the former president took in his efforts to overturn the election. According to the document, Trump and his accomplices harassed election worker Ruby Freeman and unlawfully breached election equipment in an attempt to access voter data. It also said he created false documents to distribute to officials to further the conspiracy that suggested he won the 2020 election.

In an article annotating the Georgia indictment, The New York Times reported that Trump and his lawyer, Sidney Katherine Powell, “[planned] to use the military to seize voting machines around the country and re-run parts of the election.” 

Soon after this idea was suggested, Trump’s accomplices – Powell, Scott Graham Hall and Misty Hampton – committed a felony when they willingly tampered with “electronic ballot markers and tabulating machines” in Coffee County, Georgia on Jan. 7, 2020, according to the indictment. 

How can we support a leader like Trump who is willing to have his accomplices commit felonies to support his autocratic fantasies? 

It is well known by now that Trump’s actions during the 2020 election created serious mistrust in government agencies, damaged our democracy, and helped breed domestic terrorists who would eventually attack the Capitol and plan to murder more than a dozen politicians.

Throughout his time as President, Trump continuously pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to do as a president — controversy, the uplifting of conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric. 

What the indictment reveals is the aspiring autocrat behind the mask of a politician. Using his political status to commit heinous acts and amass cultlike followers who will believe whatever he says, Trump shows his willingness to use force to gain power. 

And that is much more dangerous than anything else. 

Dana Kim is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International. She wrote this commentary.

Gemma Christie is a Junior Reporter and Illustrator with Youth Journalism International. She made the illustration.

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