On April 4th, 2023, after years of public speculation of a possible arrest, the New York Grand Jury charged the former president Donald Trump with 34 felony counts related to the alleged hush money he paid adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
“Finding out about former President Trump’s involvement with Stormy Daniels didn’t shock me when the allegations surfaced in 2018 simply because it seemed in line with Trump’s previous behavior,” Jesse Levine (BC’ 25) says. “Seeing him being arrested is most certainly satisfying given his actions, but I didn’t think that this particular deviance would be what led to his indictment.”
Donald Trump has had an unprecedented presence in the American political scene since he entered it. Of the 46 United States presidents, he was the first individual to be elected to the presidency without military or political experience, the first to be impeached twice, the first since 1932 to lose reelection along with the House of Representatives and the Senate, the first to cause a modern insurrection, and now the first to face criminal charges – in and out of office.
The Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump scandal came to light halfway through Trump’s presidency. In January 2018, The Wall Street Journal published an article revealing that Trump’s lawyer at the time of the 2016 election, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.
Haley Scull (BC ‘25) says that “there seems to be a big difference between the level of outrage between the Stormy Daniels scandal coming to light and the news of Trump’s indictment. I remember being shocked originally by the scandal when it first came out.”
Another Barnard student, Luisa Nahr (BC ‘25), expressed her surprise at the arrest: “I feel like this whole ‘Trump getting charged’ thing has been in the talks for so long that I was honestly surprised to see something actually happen.”
Even if Donald Trump is found guilty of any of criminal charges, he is not disqualified from candidacy in the 2024 presidential election. For now, much remains up in the air, tensions remain high – but Trump remains unprecedented, unprecedented, and unpardoned.