I Wish They Made Donald Trump Take a Mug Shot
Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

I Wish They Made Donald Trump Take a Mug Shot

Maybe the next indictment?

Days before Donald Trump turned himself in, we were told that there would be no mug shot taken of the former president.

It seems New York State law only requires anyone charged with a felony to be fingerprinted, but as The New York Times confirmed with local officials, “law enforcement officials have discretion over whether they take a mug shot.”

They opted not to. Their logic is sound: Mug shots are meant to help identify fugitives. We know who that goofy f**k is. And where is he going to go when by law, the Secret Service has to always be with him?

The paper also confirmed that the facility does not have the equipment necessary to take Trump’s mugshot.

Another bummer: There was a recently enacted New York law that effectively banned the release of most booking photos. I would like to believe the photo would've leaked, so I don’t respect the quitter attitude here. Before this bad news came word that Trump wouldn’t be placed in handcuffs either. And wasn’t their reporting that Trump turned down the original turn-in date of last Friday?

I don’t take for granted how it’s a shock that Trump was arrested for anything.

Following Trump’s arraignment, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg said at a press conference: “The participants’ scheme was illegal. The scheme violated New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means.”

Related: Who Is Alvin Bragg, the Prosecutor Who Got Trump Indicted?

This moment has made so many people happy, so I want us to savor how pitiful and miserable Trump looked in that courtroom. It’s a shame we were not allowed to watch him silently rage on TV in real time.

Still, I don’t expect much in the way of real consequence.

After looking through the indictment and then turning to people with much better legal knowledge than me, I understand that while each of the 34 felony counts comes with a potential four-year sentence for each count, even if Trump were convicted on all counts, it is unlikely he would go to prison.

This moment has made so many people happy, so I want us to savor how pitiful and miserable Trump looked in that courtroom. It’s a shame we were not allowed to watch him silently rage on TV in real time.

I’ve already resigned to the idea that be it the case in New York or the potential ones being investigated in the Department of Justice and Georgia, Trump will never see inside of a prison. At most, he might have to be held captive at Mar-a-Lago. He hasn’t left that place much since fleeing the White House, so that won’t measure too much in the way of punishment.

The only possible things I could think of that might hurt him are a permanent ban from seeking federal office and a gag order (more so the latter). So, I really wanted that mug shot. I would have loved the cuffs, too, but I’m not greedy. Just give us the mug shot.

According to Rolling Stone, in “recent days, some of Trump’s close aides and advisers have pushed the ex-president to turn his mug shot into fuel for a fundraising drive, or a potent new symbol on 2024 campaign merchandise” such as “hats, T-shirts, and other garments.”

Let Trump tell it, he’s already making money off the indictment, so whatever. But none of that political campaign fundraising comes with the shame of the mug shot.

Thus far, even if Trump has been brought to heel, he has already managed to direct the media coverage surrounding this. From the motorcade to his private plane to the motorcade to his 58-story castle in Manhattan, and then on down to the courthouse, Trump has managed to be covered as if he were still head of state. He might be mad about having to even be bothered with this, but this curation doesn’t allow space for the kind of shame Trump deserves.

That doesn’t necessarily spoil the moment for me.

At the same time, far too many people—mostly a lot of legal beagles on podcasts, MSNBC, CNN, and everywhere else they’re invited in this historic moment—are tooting the justice system a little too much. Pace yourselves, justice officers.

There are worse offenders right now in the media’s Trump indictment coverage, though.

I try to ignore him and leave him be, but what was Van Jones talking about on CNN when he said: “He looks sad… I don’t like the prison system, so I don’t like this process… doesn’t mean that accountability is not owed, but that is a granddad having a very bad day.”

I know their history: the Next Step Act, the criminal justice reform legislation Van Jones worked on with Jared Kushner. Last I heard, Trump regrets playing a hand in that and returned his usual history of loathing the law unless using it against his enemies and Black people.

Prison abolitionist or not, describing Trump as “a granddad having a bad day” is doing too much for a man that evil. (I will note Van Jones was given $100 million, not me, but that was still some B.S.)

Trump is a powerful, rich white man who understands how things work for powerful rich white men, and has been treated accordingly. He will be fine. He immediately got to fly back to Florida on his private plane. He is going to throw a fit in his favorite place to be: primetime.

It can only ever get so bad for Trump — which is why I still want him to take that mug shot and at least be reduced to what he is.

Maybe the next indictment?

This post originally appeared on Medium and is republished with author's permission. Read more of Michael Arceneaux's work on Medium.

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