Updated Aug 2, 2023, 12:07pm EDT

Global media reacts to Trump’s third indictment

Leah Millis/REUTERS
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The News

News of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s third indictment led front pages around the world on Wednesday.

The historic allegations that Trump attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election captured the attention of reporters and columnists beyond the U.S.’s borders. Here’s what they had to say about the charges, and what they mean.

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The View From The Financial Times

American democracy itself will hinge on this trial, said FT columnist Gideon Rachman. This indictment will be the most important, he wrote, because the center of the argument is that Trump is a threat to political freedom.

Meanwhile, Republicans must grapple with the reality that their frontrunner in the 2024 presidential election is facing a myriad of legal proceedings and trials in the coming months.

“If Trump does win the Republican nomination, his party’s dilemma will only become more acute. They will have to support a candidate who likens the federal government to the Nazi regime,” Rachman said. “This is a message that will go down well in Moscow — but could be difficult to stomach for a party of super-patriots that likes to sing, ‘I’m proud to be an American.’”

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The View From El Pais

Journalist Iker Seisdedos with Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote that there are precedents set in the U.S. even for Trump, whose “presidency broke all the molds.” There is a century-old precedent to address the question of whether Trump can become president in 2024 if he is convicted or even thrown in jail, Seisdedos wrote.

The U.S. constitution does not prevent someone who has been indicted or convicted of federal crimes from running or serving a term in office. Which is why, Seisdedos wrote, that if Trump becomes president next November, the only options left for “Americans who think that a president cannot serve in the midst of so much judicial trouble or from prison” is another impeachment or the 25th Amendment.

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The View From Der Spiegel

Trump was never one to care about democracy, Der Spiegel’s Roland Nelles noted in a Wednesday editorial of the German-language newspaper. Of his three indictments, this one is the most important because it gets to the heart of U.S. democracy, he wrote.

“When Trump tried to sabotage the peaceful transfer of power, he didn’t just sin a little against the basic principles of American democracy,” Nelles wrote. “He was about to destroy that democracy.”

Der Spiegel

In a separate report, journalist Marc Pitzke wrote that the loyalty of Trump’s fans is being “severely tested” by this latest indictment. He added: “Jack Smith is not to be trifled with. Previously, he had prosecuted international war criminals ... so someone like Trump shouldn’t scare him much.”

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The View From The Sydney Morning Herald

The coming Republican primary — in which Trump is a frontrunner — will be “surreal,” columnist Bill Wyman wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald. In a typical election, politicians would point out the shortcomings of their opponents. Most of Trump’s challengers, however, have so far stayed mum about the former president’s failings.

The reason? “They aren’t really running against Trump. They merely hope to be standing fairly close to him at the moment he might get taken down. That’s not a normal election,” Wyman said.

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The View From The Guardian

Past efforts by U.S. politicians to hold Trump accountable for the deadly consequences of the 2020 Capitol insurrection and his “broader election subversion campaign” have fallen short of what special counsel Jack Smith has achieved with this indictment, Joan E. Greve noted in The Guardian. “The former president’s third set of criminal charges stands out as the first major legal effort to hold him accountable for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” Greve wrote.

Trump’s legal troubles may only accelerate, as Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis prepares racketeering charges against the ex-president for his alleged attempt to overturn the election results in that state.

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The View From The Global Times

Chinese state-run media outlet The Global Times, citing Chinese Academy of Social Science research fellow Lu Xiang, characterized Trump’s latest legal proceedings as ”just one episode in the US’ political farce as its election-centered democracy has decayed to being ‘a choice between worse and the worst.’”