OK, to absolutely no one’s surprise, Donald Trump has been indicted again. What did you expect? We are living in a time where every action-packed story demands a sequel. Or three. Or nine.

And as in most sequels, you can expect much of the plot in this one to be fairly predictable, except maybe that part in the 49-page indictment that alleges Trump had hidden boxes of classified documents in a Mar-a-Lago shower, among other exotic locales. 

It’s possible, I guess, to imagine an alternative world in which a twice-impeached, twice-indicted former president who has the gall to expect to be elected president again would have been hooted off the political stage by now.

But in our little part of the multiverse, where Trump has created a Republican Party in his own corrupt image, that’s not how the story goes. Not now. Maybe not ever. Certainly not before the end of the Hollywood writers’ strike.

It won’t matter to most Trumpists what is actually in the grand jury’s indictment, including the charge that he held on to documents concerning “United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”

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Or that Trump apparently showed some of the top-secret documents, as CNN had originally reported, to people without any kind of clearance. 

Or that many of the documents were seen lying around the estate — there’s a photo of boxes with documents spilling from them — which had thousands of visitors and guests.

Or that, according to one of his lawyer’s notes, Trump had asked him concerning the documents, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we didn’t have anything here?”

But the more we learn, the more we can be sure the Trump cultists will still believe Trump is a victim. We can be sure Lauren Boebert and friends will continue to tweet about witch hunts. And, mostly, we can be sure the so-called GOP party leaders will cower in fear, as they have for the past many years, in all matters pertaining to the Bully-in-Chief.

In fact, if history is any guide, Trump will lose no support at all after his latest indictment for what he calls the “boxes hoax.” Instead, he’ll actually gain points in the Republican primary polls. 

It’s just more proof that Trump had it right with his Fifth-Avenue-shooting theory. That’s how it turned out following Trump’s indictment in the porn-star, hush-money, uh, hoax. That’s how it turned out after a jury’s determination that he had defamed E. Jean Carroll, who claimed Trump had sexually assaulted her.

For those keeping score at home, the “boxes hoax” has now officially led to 38 counts against Trump and more against a maybe too-loyal aide — the first time a former president has faced a federal indictment, but only because Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before the prosecutors could get to him. 

When Trump is arraigned in Miami on Tuesday — where the judge, at least in the opening stages, will be a controversial Trump appointee — he’ll face charges ranging from conspiracy to obstruct justice to violation of the Espionage Act for holding on to national defense secrets that, despite Trump’s ever-skewed interpretation of the law, do not belong to him.

This is serious stuff. There is every chance Trump could be convicted, meaning — and how would this be for a plot twist? — he could be running for president from prison

And if he were to be nominated for a third time and go on to win the election, Trump could even conceivably be president while in prison. Sadly, I’m not making this up. Instead of watching Fox News and madly tweeting from the White House, he could be watching Fox and posting on Truth Social from the, uh, Big House.

I’ve heard people say that eventually — maybe after the third or fourth indictment — there might be some Trump fatigue and maybe Republicans will turn to, say, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose universe is a place where, in his words, “woke comes to die” and a mouse plays the villain.

But I’m not buying it. Just look at how the Republicans running against Trump are playing it. The most common defense — I’ve heard it from DeSantis, from Nikki Haley, from Tim Scott —  is that Trump is a victim of Joe Biden’s “weaponization of power” by using the Department of Justice, a special prosecutor, the FBI and, for all I know, fish and game wardens, to prosecute a vendetta.

You can understand the, uh, logic. If it’s not a witch hunt,  if it’s not a hoax, if it’s not a vendetta, if it’s not fake news, and if it’s not a weaponization of power, then Trump’s defenders would have to discuss the actual merits of the case, presented by special prosecutor Jack Smith, whom Trump has called “deranged” and a “psycho.”

I’m going to assume that everyone here knows the outlines of the case — that Trump took classified documents with him when he reluctantly left the White House and, depending on the timeline, either lied about having the documents or — in a new version of the mind meld — claimed that he could legally declassify documents simply by thinking about declassifying them. 

Trump is not only wrong about how a president can declassify a document, but the indictment alleges that Trump, in 2021, was showing visitors at his Bedminster golf club what is described as a “plan of attack” against Iran. Trump is heard while saying, “Isn’t this amazing” that he has this paper. This is all on audio, from which we hear Trump admit that the documents he’s waving around are “secret” and that he no longer has the power to declassify them. This audio blows a giant hole in Trump’s defense.

This trial will have just about everything, including a heavy dose of irony. Everyone remembers  Hillary Clinton and her emails and the lock-her-up chants that Trump brought with him to the White House. After he got there, he urged Congress to toughen laws on the mishandling of classified information. It did, and now Trump is facing the possibility of a self-imposed stiffer sentence.

The indictment quotes Trump on just that subject, as if to rub the point in: “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”

If Trump was right, he’s the one who’s now facing the possibility of being locked up. And if that were to happen — and, as of today, several more Trump indictments are looming — it could generate a sequel unlike any we’ve ever seen before.

Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. Sign up for Mike’s newsletter.

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