How the Republican party responds right now is “extremely important,” says Allan Lichtman, American University Distinguished History Professor. Republicans have “somehow suggested that because Donald Trump is a former president, that he is entitled to special privilege...Donald Trump can huff and he can puff, but he's not going to blow the courthouse down,” says Lichtman.
The former president faces charges stemming from an investigation into a hush money payment to cover up affairs. Trump will be charged with 34 felony counts when appearing before the judge inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.
00:00:30 Quote on fairness of the law
00:01:14 Republican party tone on Trump's charges
RACHELLE AKUFFO: Trump is expected to surrender to authorities in Manhattan later today, the first ever charges against a former American President are now expected to weigh on the country and, more specifically, the 2024 presidential race. Here to weigh in is Distinguished Professor at American University's Department of History, Allan Lichtman.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning, Allan. Obviously, unprecedented times that we're in at the moment. Talk about what's going to happen in the next few hours and how important it is in terms of how the Republican Party responds right now.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: It's extremely important. I'm going to read you a quote to put this all in perspective. Quote, "we cannot have one law for the ruler and another for the ruled. If that understanding is lost, the American democratic experiment and the freedom it guarantees is in jeopardy." Pretty strong statement that there should be no special treatment for a President or a former President.
You may think that's some Democrat attacking Republicans today. It is not. It is a quotation from US Representative Henry Hyde back in the 1990s referring to crimes, allegations, against then-President Bill Clinton. And now, Republicans have pivoted 180 degrees and somehow suggested that because Donald Trump is a former President, that he is entitled to special privilege.
And the truth is, Donald Trump can huff, and he can puff, but he's not going to blow the courthouse down. These charges, and I agree with Rick, they may be far more serious than even mainstream commentators have indicated, are going to rise and fall on the strength of the evidence, not on Donald Trump's bluster.