Scowl Play: Trump’s mug shot sparks questions on jail time and future US President run

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday, August 24, 2023, after he surrendered at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Picture courtesy of AP.

The mug shot of a scowling Donald Trump last night was a bewildering sight for both supporters and opponents of the former US President – but what does it mean, can he be jailed, and can he still run for office?

The 77 year old former US President yesterday surrendered at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta on charges of illegally scheming to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. But that’s not all.

Trump is facing criminal charges across four American cities as he strives to regain the White House. His team swiftly seized on the image, using the first mug shot in American history of a former president to represent the perceived persecution Trump is facing. Alternatively, opponents are likely to employ it as a reminder of the risks of electing a president confronting numerous charges.

Released on a US$200,000 bond, Trump returned to the airport for his flight home to New Jersey. He flashed a thumbs-up to supporters. Unrepentant yet subdued after his brief jail visit, once again he uttered the typical “innocent” refrain, deeming the case against him for subverting election results a “travesty of justice.”

“If you challenge an election, you should be able to challenge an election.”

Trump’s surrender to police, the fourth instance this year, has become a familiar routine during election seasons. This familiarity contrasts with the unprecedented spectacle of a former president and current candidate being booked on criminal charges. His visit to Atlanta diverged from his three past surrenders, occurring at night and requiring a visit to a problem-plagued jail instead of a courthouse.

Unlike other cities that didn’t mandate a mug shot, Atlanta required one. The photo portrays Trump in a navy suit and red tie, scowling at the camera, his brows furrowed as he gazes into the lens, AP reported. He provided officials with his physical measurements: 6 feet 3 inches, 215 pounds, blond or strawberry hair. Trump was assigned the inmate number P01135809.

The Fulton County prosecution marks the fourth criminal case against Trump since March, making him the first former US president in history to be indicted. Since then, he’s faced federal charges in Florida and Washington, and this month, he was indicted in Atlanta under a racketeering statute typically linked to gang members and organized crime.

Scowl Play: Trump's mug shot sparks questions on jail time and future US President run | News by Thaiger
The motorcade of former President Donald Trump arrives at the Fulton County Jail, Thursday, August 24, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump consistently denied any wrongdoing, asserting on social media this week that he’s being prosecuted for what he termed a “perfect phone call.” In this call, he asked the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to assist in “finding 11,780 votes” to overturn his state loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Trump will face multiple trials in the coming 18 months.

The first indictment in March accused him of false accounting to conceal a payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The US$130,000 payment aimed to silence her about an alleged affair, a relationship he has always denied. His second indictment in Florida concerned hoarding classified files illegally at Mar-a-Lago and refusing to return them when asked.

The third indictment, unveiled in Washington DC two weeks ago, accused him of trying to retain power by interfering with the 2020 election results. It also charged him with repeatedly asserting the false claim of his election victory, which the prosecutor argued fuelled his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol in January 2021.

While it might seem unlikely that the divisive politician could run for the White House, it is possible.

The US Constitution doesn’t prevent Trump from continuing his election campaign despite facing multiple charges, reported the BBC. However, practical considerations come into play. Trials can last weeks, requiring his presence in court and a significant expenditure on legal representation. This would strain his time, energy, and election funds, precisely when he would prefer to hold rallies and meet voters.

Nevertheless, his support remains strong. He remains the frontrunner to challenge Joe Biden again next year. The question of whether Trump might face prison time lingers. Some charges are severe and could potentially lead to imprisonment, yet most are more likely to result in fines if he’s convicted.

Could Trump run for president while imprisoned? As bizarre as it sounds, yes, he can. Precedent exists. In 1920, Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs garnered a million votes while in prison.

In this seemingly mad world, one might need a touch of insanity to endure it. Hold on to your buckled belts, the ride is about to get bumpy.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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