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Roving Periscope: In the ‘same boat’, Trump, Imran fight irrelevance, fears of arrest

Roving Periscope: In the ‘same boat’, Trump, Imran fight irrelevance, fears of arrest


Virendra Pandit


New Delhi: Call it a quirk of fate, former US President Donald Trump and ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi find themselves in the ‘same boat’ as they battle the fears of arrest in their respective countries where their successors are tightening the noose to prevent them from contesting the next elections.

While Islamabad has slapped around 100 police cases against Khan on various counts and tried to arrest him carefully and without sparking a civil war, Washington is going ahead with plans to arrest Trump, the media reported on Wednesday.

Both leaders use social media extensively to whip up passion against their government and play hide-and-seek both with the law and the media to avoid arrest and revamp their sinking political careers.

Trump scaled up his social media tirade on Wednesday ahead of his possible indictment over hush money paid to a pornographic actress, and the police in New York were put on high alert.

The former President claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday in the case, but the day passed without any signs of an indictment or arrest. Barricades were, however, set up near Trump Tower in New York.

Using bold letters, Trump wrote on his own social networking platform Truth Social: “Reports, and almost everybody, says, even after in-depth legal study and review, that there was NO CRIME, NO AFFAIR, NO BOOKKEEPING ERROR OR MISDEMEANOR, NO “NOTHING,” OTHER THAN NOW PROVEN LIES BY MICHAEL COHEN, A CONVICTED FELON AND PERJURER, AND THE STRONG LIKELIHOOD OF AN EXTORTION PLOT AGAINST ME.”

Some US media speculated that the grand jury hearing the case could vote to indict on Wednesday, but that it may be next week before Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announces any charges and Trump is arraigned before a judge, the reports said.

Bragg, an elected Democrat, has not confirmed any plans publicly and grand juries operate in secret to prevent perjury or witness tampering before trials, making it virtually impossible to follow their proceedings.

Trump, the 76-year-old Republican, would become the first former or sitting US President to be charged with a crime if an indictment is filed — a move that would send shock waves through the 2024 White House race, in which Trump is running to regain office.

The New York Police Department has geared up for Trump’s unprecedented arrest or self-surrender, which would see an ex-leader of the US booked, fingerprinted, and possibly even handcuffed, by erecting barricades outside Bragg’s office and Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, New York.

The way Imran Khan has been gathering crowds to ward off arrest, Trump called over the weekend for mass protests if he is indicted, but there has so far been no indication of any large movement. Leading Trump figures, like his sons, have not openly urged action in the streets as they did after the 2020 election when President Joe Biden defeated his predecessor.

On Monday, a pro-Trump protest fizzled out in Lower Manhattan. Organized by the New York Young Republican Club, it attracted only a couple dozen Trump supporters. Only around 40 supporters rallied outside Trump’s Florida residence in Mar-e-Lago on Tuesday.

Bragg’s inquiry centers on USD 130,000 paid weeks before the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels to stop her from going public about an affair she says she had with Trump years earlier.

The former President’s ex-lawyer-turned-enemy Michael Cohen, who has testified before the grand jury, told Congress in 2019 that he made the payment on Trump’s behalf and was later reimbursed.

If not properly accounted for, the payment to Daniels could result in a misdemeanor charge for falsifying business records. That might be raised to a felony if the false accounting was intended to cover up a second crime, such as a campaign finance violation, which is punishable by up to four years behind bars.

The way Imran has been rejecting all charges for weeks, Trump has also denied having had an affair with Daniels and has blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt.”.

“Our enemies are desperate to stop us because they know that we are the only ones who can stop them,” Trump said in a video posted on his Truth Social platform overnight into Tuesday.



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