Observations of an expat: Trump declines (hopefully)

Former President of the United States Donald Trump was on Tuesday expected to be arrested for one of his many alleged crimes.

He, of course, claimed that the arrest was another chapter in a long-running political witch hunt and called on his supporters to take to the streets and protest. And they did – all ten of them.

Ten is an exaggeration, but not by much. It was certainly true that there were more police officers and people demonstrating against Trump outside the Manhattan court house then there were those protesting his innocence.

The opinion polls show him leading challenger Ron DeSantis in the race for the Republican nomination. But if bodies on the street are an indication, Donald Trump’s pulling power is on the wane.

The Stormy Daniels case is only one of several legal challenges facing the former occupant of the White House. His business—the Trump Organisation—is accused of fraud. Any day now a Georgia Grand Jury is expected to indict him for solicitation of election fraud. The Justice Department is investigating his role in the January 6 Capitol Hill Riots and he is may still be charged under the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice for unlawful possession of top secret documents after he left the White House.

But the case that could do Donald Trump the most damage does not directly involve the ex-president as either defendant or plaintiff. But it cuts to the very heart of Trump’s political structure – his claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

More than 50 courts have refused to hear allegations by Trump or his supporters of fraud and election irregularities. But despite this, pundits at Fox News – the televisual media champion of Donald Trump – continued to support his election denial claims. More importantly they broadcast claims that two election voting system – Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic – were complicit in preventing their man from returning to the White House.

Dominion Voting is suing Fox News for a staggering $1.6 billion plus punitive damages. Smartmatic is demanding $2.7 billion plus punitive damages. The earnings Fox News are in the region of $4 billion, so if Fox loses it could spell the end for America’s leading conservative media platform. In fact the parent company – Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – would have difficulty swallowing a defeat even with its earnings of $89.6 billion.

The American legal bar for defamation and/or libel is a high one. The plaintiff has to prove damages, malicious intent or knew that they knew a statement was false or that it acted with reckless disregard for the truth. Then, assuming those obstacles are overcome, they have the problem of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press.

But legal eagles reckon that if anyone has a shot of winning, it is Dominion Voting and Smartmatic. They have accumulated a veritable mountain of texts and emails proving that Fox knew that they were peddling an election lie. Rupert Murdoch himself has admitted as much.

In its defense, Fox News says that they were merely repeating the claims of a public figure – Donald Trump – and his associates. Furthermore, that no responsible viewer would have believed the allegations.

Trump may not serve gaol time for what Fox News’s broadcasts. But he will be ruthlessly discredited and conservative America could lose its number one platform. Both would be better than throwing the ex-president behind bars from whence he can claim martyrdom.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopedia of the War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain". He has a weekly podcast, Transatlantic Riff.

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