Mona Charen, a former speechwriter for the Reagan family, suggested that Alvin Bragg is playing to Donald Trump’s strengths with his recently issued indictment, while also condemning Republican attacks on “the rule of law.”
Trump is facing the first indictment of a former president in U.S. history after a grand jury last week voted in favor of charges stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Bragg’s investigation into his alleged 2016 hush money scheme. Trump is accused of unlawfully concealing a payment that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair she allegedly had with Trump, to prevent the story from getting out ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The former president has denied having an affair with Daniels and maintained his innocence, accusing prosecutors of being politically motivated in their pursuit of the case. Prosecutors believe the payment violated campaign finance laws. Despite his pushback, Trump is scheduled to surrender for arraignment in New York on Tuesday.
A veteran journalist and author, Charen worked in the Reagan administration as a speechwriter for Nancy Reagan and later as a member of former President Ronald Reagan’s Office of Public Liaison and in the Office of Communications. Today, she works as a conservative columnist for numerous outlets and as a political panelist for CNN.
On Tuesday, Charen published an opinion column for The Bulwark, a conservative online news outlet noted for its anti-Trump stances. In it, she argued that while Bragg’s indictment of Trump might have some political risks, it does not undermine the law, as many Republicans have argued.
“We saw one political risk of Bragg’s indictment play out even before anyone had read the charges, Call it the Rally Round the Criminal effect,” Charen said. “It has been evident for some time that Republicans thrill to imagined persecution.
“After the completely justified, arguably essential, search of Mar-a-Lago for stolen top secret documents, the GOP sprang to Trump’s defense in Pavlovian fashion. It wasn’t just that their knees jerked; it was the language they adopted, dipping autonomically into the extremist/incendiary vocabulary they’ve learned at Trump’s knee.”
Another risk, she argued, is that indictment plays to Trump’s strengths by making him the center of national attention, allowing him to play up his “favorite posture—aggrieved victim of the Democrats and the ‘deep state.’” To back up this argument, Charen noted that Trump’s 2024 presidential race polling lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has widened in the wake of the news that the indictment was coming.
Despite the risks, however, Charen also wrote that the rhetoric of Republicans in the wake of the indictment is doing more to impede the rule of law than anything they have accused those across the aisle of doing. Bragg, a Democrat, “followed the rules” in pursuing the case, she observed, arguing that “there is no question that a crime was committed,” because Cohen already went to jail for his part in the hush money scheme.
“By contrast, Republican officials and officeholders who are rallying around Trump are implicitly and sometimes explicitly endorsing his attacks on the justice system,” Charen wrote, adding later that, “Republicans, by contrast, have demonstrated reckless contempt for rules, order, and justice in service to their deranged master.”
As rumors of the impending indictment heated up last month, Trump escalated attacks against Bragg on his social media platform, Truth Social. He decried the district attorney as a “Soros-back animal,” evoking antisemitic conspiracy theories surrounding wealthy Democrat donor George Soros. He also called for his supporters to protest his potential indictment, which critics compared to his rhetoric in the lead-up to the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s communications team via email for comment.