Donald Trump’s day in court was dramatic and historic – but what we learned about the criminal charges he faces seems unlikely to change minds.
Just over two weeks ago, the former US president predicted he was soon to be charged by prosecutors in New York City. Speculation abounded, as everyone, including Mr Trump, waited to find out what was in the indictment.
It turned out, however, that the outlines of the case against him had already been widely discussed.
The 34-count indictment targeted the hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. There were no charges of criminal conspiracy. There were no new crimes unearthed by the grand jury that remained hidden until the indictment was concealed. There was no expansive case.
The cards were already on the table when Mr Trump woke up in Manhattan on Tuesday. The case is what we thought it was, even if some of the evidence of what prosecutors allege was a pattern of election influence was new.
This suggests that the battle lines that had been forming over the past few days will only harden as the case proceeds toward trial. Republicans, who had been fairly united in their defence of Mr Trump since he posted on social media that an indictment was looming, will stay unified.
Even Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Mr Trump in his two impeachment trials, released a statement saying that Mr Bragg “stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda”.
“The prosecutor’s overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalising political opponents and damages the public’s faith in our justice system,” he said.
Democrats, at this point, may follow President Joe Biden’s lead and keep silent about the case. They may prefer to avoid entanglement in a prosecution that at the moment could do more to rally the Republican base than damage the former president’s political standing.
Mr Trump appeared stony-faced during his brief on-camera appearances at the courthouse where he pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him. But on his social media website, and in a slew of fundraising emails throughout the day, he seemed willing to press what he may perceive as his advantage.
It follows his repeated attacks on Mr Bragg and the New York City prosecution team – actions that prompted a warning from presiding Judge Juan Merchan against further inflammatory rhetoric.
Mr Trump has also questioned Mr Merchan’s impartiality and called for the case to be moved out of Manhattan to Staten Island, where the jury pool could have more Trump supporters. His lawyers are also expected to file motions to get the charges dismissed before the case reaches trial.