The number of indictments, lawsuits, and criminal cases against twice impeached Donald Trump continues to climb. The former president will be arraigned in Miami on June 13, 2023, on 37 counts involving stealing and refusing to turn over classified documents. This arraignment is his second this year. Previously, he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges concerning the Stormy Daniels hush money debacle on April 4. Regardless, 71 felony charges will not be enough to change ardent supporters’ minds, says cognitive neuroscientist Bobby Azarian.
Everyone knows that the former president is likely a criminal — right? Or is it his ability to misdirect followers just enough to keep them hungering for more? After all, he is the king of misdirection and instinctively knows what appeals to the MAGA crowd. Many have appeared in YouTube videos saying Trump is running the government from behind the scenes and other far-fetched conspiracy theories.
How is it possible that these indictments and other legal issues do not hurt Trump’s popularity? Azarian recalls then-candidate Trump’s chilling prophecy that he would not lose voters if he stood in the middle of 5th Avenue and shot someone.
Azarian declared, “The proclamation seems to be truer than not, and that should disturb all of us because that kind of blind loyalty poses a real threat to our democratic values.”
Furthermore, “[It] signals a trend toward authoritarianism.” Azarian suggests this ability to overlook criminal behavior resulting in indictments may be symptomatic of terror management theory, a popular social psychology theory.
Terror Management Theory Explainer
“The theory suggests that existential terror is [why] we adopt cultural world views, such as religions, national identities, or political ideologies.” This terror can be triggered by anything that a person thinks poses a threat to their existence, Azarian explains. To try to reduce their fears, they cling to life-affirming philosophies that give their lives meaning and focus in a messy world.
Additionally, tribalism is at the core of why anyone chooses to support Trump. When a person is fearful or threatened, they rally around others who share their worldviews.
Azarian continues: “We become aggressive toward those who don’t. More alarmingly, perceived threats or existential fear — immigrants, transgender persons, gun-grabbing, government conspiracies, humiliation at the hands of ‘liberal elites’ — can stir up nationalism and sway voting habits toward presidential candidates with authoritarian personalities.”
According to Azarian, in 2016, 152 students at the College of Staten Island participated in a study that was conducted “to see whether existential fear was fueling support for Trump.”
They were split into two groups. One was asked to write about death, and the other pain. Later, the entire group answered questions designed to evaluate their approval of then-candidate Trump and their readiness to vote for him in the presidential election.
“The results show that the people who wrote about death showed increased support for Trump than those in the control group, regardless of their political leanings. These findings support Terror Management Theory’s prediction that thoughts about mortality shift voters to the right politically and cause people to favor patriotic leaders with nationalist, xenophobic messages.”
Trump’s fans overlook his problems because he is the undefeatable victor of their worldview. This is especially true when the world feels as out of control as it does today without relief in sight. “In a time of increasing polarization and division, the desire to feel safe can eclipse any number of legal or moral blunders. Seeing him as an unbeatable guardian of their worldviews and identities allows many of his fans to [pretend not to see] his flaws.”
Finally, the more perceived anti-Trumpers attack him, the more it strengthens their support for him. This is true despite his being “credibly accused of stealing, lying, cheating, and threatening national security.”
Lawsuits and Criminal Indictments Against Trump
Updated June 11, 2023
- United States v Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta (37 Counts in Classified Documents Case)
- Manhatten DA Charged Trump With 34 Counts of Falsifying Business Records (Trump pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.)
- E. Jean Carrol 1.0: Defamation of Federal Tort and Claims Act Litigation (Trump Found Liable for Sexual Assault and Ordered To Pay $500,000)
- E. Jean Carrol 2.0 Battery and Defamation
- Summer Zervos Defamation Suit (Case Closed)
- Mary Trump Fraud Litigation
- Panama Hotel Fraud and Tax Litigation (Case Closed)
- Doe v. The Trump Corporation Class Action
- DC Civil Suit Over Misuse of 2017 Inauguration Funds (Case Settled for $750.000)
- Reps. Karen Bass et al. Incitement Suit for January 6 Capitol Attack
- Eric Swalwell Incitement Suit for January 6 Riots
- Capitol Police Suit for January 6 Riots
- Second Capitol Police Suit for January 6 Riots
- Third Capitol Police Suit Over the January 6 Riots
- Metropolitan Police Suit Over the January 6 Riots
- NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund Voting Rights Case for Post-Election Actions
- New York Attorney General’s Civil and Criminal Investigations
- Scotland Unexplained Wealth Orders
- Trump Tower Assault Suit (Case Settled: Undisclosed Agreement)
- Michael Cohen Retaliatory Imprisonment Suit (Case Dismissed)
- Criminal Investigations Into Trump’s Finances (Case Closed: Guilty Verdict)
- DC AG Incitement Criminal Investigation
- Fulton County, Georgia Criminal Election Influence Investigation
- Westchester, New York Criminal Investigation of Trump Organization Golf Course
Use this link to read more about these lawsuits and criminal indictments.
AZ Central: Dive Into Donald Trump’s Thousands of Lawsuits
Reuters: An Overview of Donald Trump’s Legal Troubles
Biological Diversity: Administration Lawsuit Tracker: 266 Center Suits Filed Against the Trump Administration
Book: Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits (Published 9-24-2019)
Ballotpedia: Multi-State Lawsuits Against the Federal Government During the Trump Administration
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Just Security: Litigation Tracker: Pending Criminal and Civil Cases Against Donald Trump.
The Wall Street Journal: Trump to Appear in Court in Miami Tuesday Amid Flurry of Probes; by Sadie Gurman
Just Security: National Security Implications of Trump’s Indictment: A Damage Assessment; by Tess Bridgeman and Brianna Rosen
CNN: Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records; by Jeremy Herb, Kara Scannell, and Lauren del Valle
Raw Story: A neuroscientist explains why certain Americans will never quit Trump no matter what the ex-president does; by Bobby Azarian
Featured and Top Image by Gage Skidmore Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by Michael Vadon Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image by Colin Lloyd Courtesy of Unsplash
Third Inset Image by John Hain Courtesy of Pixabay – Creative Commons License