"Russiagate" story turned out to be a hoax but this does not mean that the Russian government does not prefer Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that leading commentator of the RIA Novosti news outlet Petr Akopov, in a column titled "Biden's Last Gamble Is Done," perceives the recent indictment of Donald Trump by a Manhattan grand jury as a desperate measure by the deep state to block Trump's return to the White House. For Akopov, a Trump victory over Joe Biden in a 2024 rematch is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, according to Akopov, the Washington establishment expects that a lengthy high-profile trial will alienate a sufficient number of Republican voters to hand the more malleable Ron DeSantis victory in the Republican primaries. Of course, this ploy can backfire by uniting the Republicans around Trump, but it is the only card that the establishment has left.
Akopov's analysis follows below:
Donald Trump (Source: Ria.ru)
"'What a biography they are creating for our redhead! It's as if he hired someone on purpose.' This is precisely how one could characterize Donald Trump's trial that is beginning in the U.S.
"These words were also spoken [by poet Anna Akhmatova] with reference to a court case, albeit one that took place 59 years ago. I am talking about the sentencing of [poet] Joseph Brodsky, who received five years of exile 'for social parasitism.' The poet, naturally, did not hire anyone [to create a biography for himself], but the verdict aided the emergence of the future Nobel laureate. Trump likewise did not hire the prosecutor or Biden, but his enemies are sculpting his biography with stunning shortsightedness.
"Never before had a U.S. election campaign begun so early, i.e., a year and seven months in advance. But on Tuesday, April 4, when Donald Trump is due to appear before district court in New York [borough of] Manhattan, the fight for the White House will begin. It will end next year, on November 5. There are no rules left in this struggle: the last taboo was removed last Thursday, when a criminal prosecution came into play, as a grand jury brought charges against the former president.
"The exact list of charges will not be made public until Tuesday, but it is rumored to consist of 34 counts, the most famous of which is a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Back then, Trump's lawyer paid her 130,000 USD in return for her silence so she would not publicize the story about her sexual fling with the billionaire a decade earlier.
"Later, when Trump was already president, the payment story surfaced. However, Donald denied both contact with Daniels and payments [to her].
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"However, his lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, and the case hung like a sword of Damocles over Trump's head. A legal casuistry of little importance (the problem being that the payments were not made from the 'correct' funds) has been set in motion. The most important thing is that Trump has become the first former U.S. president to be charged with a criminal offence. The point behind the unfolding events is quite clear: at a maximum [it is designed] to prevent Trump from being nominated for president, while at a minimum (provided it fails) to guarantee his electoral defeat.
"And it is not just that Trump himself has characterized what is happening in this way, calling the accusations a 'witch hunt' and 'Political Persecution and Electoral Interference at the highest level in history.' He said that 'the American people are well aware of what radical left-wing Democrats are doing in this regard': 'And our movement, our united and strong party [...] will defeat Joe Biden and we will kick every last crooked Democrat out of power. And then we will restore America to its former greatness!'
"That is not the crux of the matter, the essential point is that everyone, including Biden supporters, understands that this is an attempt to eliminate a [political] rival. The taboo on criminal prosecution of former presidents was one of the remaining fundamentals of the American political system – and now it is gone. It is not that seriousness of Trump's guilt in this particular episode (by American standards) does not feel like a felony, but that it is now possible to put a former head of state on trial.
"Even in a normal American situation this would be perceived with extreme disapproval by a most significant part of society. However, considering a situation of growing divisiveness, it will cause an intensification of the crisis. Why, then, are they pouring gasoline on a bonfire?
"The simplest answer is also the most accurate one: it's being done not as a result of some clever tactics, but simply because they believe there is no other way of stopping Trump.
"Simply repeating the story of the 2020 election is not going to be successful, as Trump and many Americans believe that victory was stolen from him and therefore perceive the upcoming election as a revanche. The mobilization of Trump supporters and those simply opposed to Biden will be at a maximum level, while it will be very difficult for Biden to rally the masses around him solely under the "Trump shall not pass" banner. Therefore, the only appropriate option for the establishment is to derail Trump's candidacy itself.
"But is a trial suited for this purpose? American law does not prohibit a defendant or even a convicted person from running for president. But the expectation is that a lengthy and high-profile trial will influence Trump's supporters, some of whom might already deny him their support during the primaries.
"Some polls demonstrate that 44% of Republicans think he should not run for president if indicted, but all of them [the polls] were conducted before Trump actually became a person under indictment.
"The paradox is that even if Trump loses the primaries, the Democrats are not assured a victory: Biden is virtually guaranteed to lose to Ron DeSantis (the only Republican candidate theoretically capable of beating Trump).
"So, the Democrats would lose the White House anyway, right? Yes, and that said, DeSantis is not too different from Trump in terms of his domestic political views, he is even more conservative. But his victory won't represent as much of a nightmare for the bipartisan (or rather, non-party) establishment as Trump's return to the Oval Office: the Florida governor is, not unreasonably, expected to be more 'approachable.' The deep state will indeed be able to bring DeSantis to its side, [since] despite all of his tough rhetoric, he has neither the experience nor the combative qualities of Trump.
"That is, he is willing to be a system player, and the establishment does not need anything else. After all, Trump is not just talking about the need to "drain the Washington swamp," he is really committed to doing it. Another thing is that all his attempts to change not only the 'furniture' [at the brothel] but also the 'girls' [i.e., prostitutes – the American establishment ] were successfully blocked by them and the 'deep state,' but the American elite has no intention of enduring some [additional] 'lost years.'
"Will their bet on knocking out Trump pay off? That is highly unlikely, because the only way to stop Trump is to kill him. A criminal trial, let alone a brief arrest (if there is one, though it probably won't come to that) will only boost his ratings. No DeSantis will be able to beat Trump in the primaries, and it will be impossible to 'tweak' the result.
"The establishment's only hope after that would be a split among the Republicans, with Trump being nominated as an independent candidate separate from his own party. This would split the Republican vote, and automatically lead to Biden's re-election. But now it is impossible to even imagine circumstances under which Trump and the Republican Party would decide to follow such a suicidal path.
"Thus, the Democrats have placed a bet on Trump's trial because things are not going well. In order to try to get rid of him, they have to take the risk of boosting his ratings and re-election chances (which are already quite good).
"It is no coincidence that Ilon Musk wrote a month ago that Trump's arrest would lead to his triumphant re-election. If one does not take risks, one does not win, right? Yes, but in the current state of the 'Washington swamp,' reckless risk-taking doesn't just look unwarranted. [The risk-taking] itself becomes a sign of stalemate and agony, a portent of impending upheaval that is virtually unavoidable."
Petr Akopov (Source: Zona.kz)
 Ria.ru, April 1, 2023.