Millions and millions of pictures have been taken of US Presidents.
But none like this.
Donald Trump’s mugshot instantly became one of the most iconic images of anyone who served as America’s commander-in-chief.
Inmate number P01135809 stares out of the card photo, his face like stone. It is impossible to know how Trump feels. But the image, taken after his motorcade entered the Fulton County Jail, doesn’t radiate his trademark bravado. His eyes fix on you. And the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office seal in an upper corner is a reminder that Trump, for all his previous power, is beholden to a process in which he can’t control his own power. fate of him.
Trump turned himself in in Atlanta in the fourth criminal case opened against him this year. What’s next now?
They reveal the mugshot of Donald Trump 1:06
Stark in its simplicity in a way that must surely rankle a former reality star for whom image is everything, Trump’s mugshot is a metaphor for an election in which the potential Republican nominee and possible next president faces 91 counts. criminals in four separate cases. Trump denies any wrongdoing and is innocent until proven guilty in all cases, including the Georgia allegations related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
But in a way, the mugshot, taken after Trump turned himself in to authorities Thursday, represents the inevitable culmination of a life that has stretched and bended the boundaries around the presidency and often forced the law. More broadly, for a man who built his legend through paparazzi photos in the New York gossip columns and who values Time magazines with his face, the Georgia mugshot, for all its indignity, represents another new frontier of notoriety. But for a nation still embroiled in recriminations and Trump-fuelled fury, the photograph, which immediately went around the world, represents a special kind of tragedy.
For those who revil Trump for his autocratic instincts, demagogy, vulgarity and self-obsession, mugshots can offer feelings of vindication. For the millions of Trump supporters who believe he is a victim of persecution, he will enshrine his status as a living political martyr on which his bid to retake the White House rests. While Trump’s team said he wanted to appear defiant, the former president’s photo is likely to polarize Americans as much as his politics.
Trump boards his plane as he departs from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, August 24. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
The image also raises a question. Why does the world’s most famous man, always under the watchful eye of Secret Service agents and unable to even leave his luxurious homes without an RV, need a mugshot? It’s not like he’s going to suddenly disappear: he’s flying in a personal plane emblazoned with the word “Trump.” He could travel anywhere on Earth and be instantly recognized. The official explanation for the photo appears to be that Trump, despite his former power and fame, should be treated under the law like anyone else. If a man who once had the power to destroy the world with a nuclear arsenal is given a mugshot like every other suspected criminal in Georgia, then justice is truly equal for all.
Trump’s team and law enforcement negotiated the timing of the former president’s handover this Thursday
Trump surrendered in Georgia jail: expert explains the relevance 2:10
But even if the multiple accusations against a former president do indeed serve the national interest, could the humiliation now piling up backfire? In addition, Trump has weaponized every aspect of his legal fight to fuel the cult of victimization and revenge that drives his political appeal. Trump quickly posted the capture photo of him on his Truth Social network and used it to return to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. His campaign is already spreading it far and wide, which will probably help raise the money he’s spending defending him and turn shame on him into a new kind of power, another affront to the justice system. .
For any other politician, a mugshot would be the end. For Trump, it’s a springboard. After all, he was arraigned in an Atlanta jail just 24 hours after most of his rivals for the Republican nomination raised their hands at a presidential debate in Wisconsin to say they would support him if he converted.