Update (4/4/23): This piece has been updated with more examples.
On April 4, former President Donald Trump reported to New York City to be arraigned after he was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on charges related to alleged campaign finance violations during his 2016 presidential run. Right-wing media responded to the arraignment by attacking the judge, catastrophizing about the case's impact on the country, and touting Trump’s supposed strength.
Last week, Trump became the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges after he was indicted for hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign. According to the indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to these payments.
In response to last Thursday’s indictment, right-wing media decried the prosecution as a rigged “witch hunt” and rushed to depict Trump as a martyr who is a victim of political persecution on par with that of Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ. Others framed the indictment as an attack on Trump supporters and conservatives, predicting that they will fight back.
Some personalities also lobbed attacks at District Attorney Alvin Bragg and made flimsy connections between Bragg and right-wing media boogeyman George Soros, while others sought to downplay the charges. And some right-wing figures also pushed extreme and alarmist rhetoric, agitating for conflict or predicting a “civil war” in response to the indictment.
As Trump was arraigned in New York City on Tuesday, right-wing media attacked the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, because of his daughter’s past work for the Democratic Party; claimed the indictment means the end of democracy; falsely described the indictment as political persecution; boasted of Trump’s supposed strength; and downplayed the charges in the indictment:
Downplaying the charges
- Former OAN host Graham Ledger tweeted that Trump is a “‘criminal’ for data entries, accounting notations, and tax entries. Wow. Guess I’m next.”
- Right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich tweeted:
- Conservative writer Tom Elliot said that the charges are “literally just disagreements over bookkeeping.”
- Former OAN host’s Liz Wheeler tweeted that she’s “actually laughing that these charges from DA Alvin Bragg are actually as stupid as we predicted they’d be,” adding that “Bragg is embarrassing.”
- Right-wing podcaster Stephen L. Miller tweeted:
- President and CEO of ACLJ Action Jordan Sekulow said that the statement of facts is “nothing you haven't read or heard about for 7+ years.”
Attacking Judge Juan Merchan because his daughter has worked for Democrats
- Fox News’ Mark Levin tweeted:
- Real Clear Investigations’ Paul Sperry cast doubt on Merchan because his daughter is supposedly a “Democratic political strategist” who worked for Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) campaign.
- State Freedom Caucus Network’s Greg Price tweeted:
- Breitbart reported on Merchan’s daughter’s work with the Democratic Party and highlighted a tweet from Eric Trump calling it “corruption … on a different level.”
- The Gateway Pundit similarly focused on Merchan’s daughter’s career.
Decrying Trump’s arraignment as signaling the supposed end of America/democracy or as “the real insurrection”
- Former Fox producer Kyle Becker blamed Democrats for Trump’s indictment, saying, “Now that justice is out the window, there can only be a vicious cycle of revenge. Congratulations, radical Democrats. I hope you thought it was worth destroying America just to get one man.”
Framing the indictment as political persecution and predicting revenge
- Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that the arrest is “a fascist prosecution” because it is a “politically inspired prosecution of the opposition that has no real basis.”
- Conservative radio host Glenn Beck tweeted that “NO ONE is above the law! Except for Michael Isikoff, Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, the BLM/Antifa rioters, and pretty much every progressive elite.”
- Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis called the arraignment a “political hit job.”
- Right-wing digital strategist and former Daily Caller staffer Logan Hall tweeted: “No more peacetime republicans. either fight to win or get lost. no middle ground. no unity. no surrender.”
- Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro posted on social media site GETTR: “The partisan weaponization of America's injustice system has now gone NUCLEAR.”
Cheering Trump as a “fighter” and a “baddass” ahead of the 2024 election
- Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier: