This week in politics: Donald Trump indicted; Gun reform unlikely after Nashville shooting


Historically speaking that's what the country faces after a New York grand jury voted this week to indict Donald Trump on unspecified criminal charges.

Never before has the U.S. justice system had to deal with a former president — who is also a current White House candidate — being formally accused of a crime.

In many ways Trump will be treated like any other defendant, experts tell USA TODAY.

He will be given a Miranda warning. He will processed with booking number. He will take a mug shot. He will give his fingerprints. And a lot of paperwork

Stay in the conversation on politics: Sign up for the OnPolitics newsletter

But the clash of America's rule of law and political system, which is bitterly partisan, has never happened to this degree.

Elsewhere, Tennessee witnessed one of the more heinous mass shootings this week that took the lives of six people at a Christian elementary school.

Besides the carnage the only thing clearer is the paralysis in Congress, which doesn't appear to be ready with any significant remedy.

What happened this week in politics?

  • Former President Donald Trump was slapped with unspecified criminal charges tied to an investigation that he paid hush money to two women who claimed to have had sex with him.

  • A shooter killed six people, including three children, at an elementary school in Tennessee that spotlighted Congress's paralysis on gun reform.

  • Most Democrats would prefer if someone other than Joe Biden ran for president in 2024, but they're not sure on who should run instead.

  • A staffer for Sen. Rand Paul was brutally attacked in Washington, D.C. in an incident that is likely to renew the debate about violent crime.

  • Michigan is quickly becoming a shinning star for Democrats who heralded its progressive pivot after last year's midterms.

Indicted: Trump case further splits D.C.

No one really knows how Trump's indictment will play out in the 2024 GOP primary for president, but it has consumed the early stages of the race.

What's obvious is Democratic and Republican officeholders see this through very different lenses.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, of Missouri, pointed the finger at the New York prosecutor behind the investigation.

"Tonight’s indictment of Donald Trump isn’t about the law," Hawley said in a tweet.

"It’s about power. Raw power. It’s the Democrat Party telling the nation they will stop at nothing to control the outcome of the next presidential election. It is an assault on our democracy, pure and simple."

Politics: Grand jury indicts Donald Trump in New York, first time a former president is charged criminally.

More: A Donald Trump mugshot? Fingerprints? What happens next after Trump indictment

Other lawmakers, such as Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, of California, said via Twitter how indicting a former president represents a "horrible precedent" but how it would be worse "to not indict Donald Trump if there is evidence that he committed crimes."

"This is a somber moment for America," Lieu added. "We should let the judicial system do its job without interference."

Nashville shooting changes little

A massacre that left six dead — including three children — at a Christian school in Nashville isn't likely to result in sweeping gun reform.

In fact, most are predicting inaction despite calls from the White House and other liberal-leaning policymakers and activists that more should be done.

Parishioners participate in a community vigil at Belmont United Methodist Church in the aftermath of the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

President Biden has taken several executive actions on firearms, including one to increase the number of background checks conducted during gun sales.

Nation: Covenant School shooting in Nashville: 3 children, 3 adults dead

More: 14 minutes. Visual timeline of Nashville school shooting from break-in to police response

In the aftermath of Nashville he admits that has reached its limit: "The Congress has to act," he said.

Lawmakers, such as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who helped pass a bipartisan gun bill, said the Senate doesn't have enough votes to go any further. Others were more blunt.

"We're not gonna fix it," Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, of Tennessee, told reporters Monday. "Criminals are going to be criminals."

Most Dems don't want Biden to run

Roughly 74% of Democrats hold a favorable view of President Biden when asked by a Monmouth University Poll released this week.

But only one in four want him to run for a second term, the survey found.

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, N.C., Tuesday, March 28, 2023, en route to Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ORG XMIT: NCCK115

The poll showed 44% of Democrats would prefer the president step aside in favor of another candidate.

Politics: Biden hints at 2024 as he rallies Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia

More: As Biden prepares 2024 reelection run, Democrats worry blue-collar voters are slipping away

"Democrats appear to be saying they like the job Biden has done, but maybe it’s time for him to move on when his term is up," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

What's foggier is who those voters want to run instead. Asked who should be the nominee instead, 51% of Monmouth respondents said they don't know.

Rand Paul staffer attacked

A member of Republican Sen. Rand Paul's staff was stabbed in Washington, D.C. which is likely to put crime back into focus on Capitol Hill.

Police arrested 42-year-old Glynn Neal, who is charged with assault with intent to kill the staffer, who suffered a "deep knife wound to the head," according to the senator's office.

A staffer of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was stabbed Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C. This file photo shows Paul in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.

Federal prison records show Neal was released from prison March 24, a day before the attack.

More: Biden pressure prompts D.C. to cancel sentencing reform law as GOP portrays Dems as soft on crime

Paul pounced on that point when speaking briefly to reports this week.

"The attacker was out of jail for 24 hours," the Kentucky senator said. "First day out of prison, tries to kill somebody."

Michigan: The anti-Florida?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took a victory lap of sorts this week when she touted The Great Lakes State's recent repeal of right-to-work at the UAW convention.

“I’m damn proud of the work that we had to do, but we cannot for one second take our foot off the accelerator," she said.

Progressives are rejoicing at what's happening in Michigan, where Democrats hold total control of state government after the 2022 midterms.

Politics: House Democrats introduce bill that would enshrine federal abortion rights

More: Red, white and (increasingly) blue. How Democrats look to take advantage of state 'trifectas'

Earlier this month, for instance, Whitmer signed a landmark pro-LGBTQ measure into law that amends Michigan's civil rights code to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Democrats there have also pursued a major anti-gun violence package while expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income workers and repealing an anti-abortion rule from 1931.

As a result, many liberals are starting to call Michigan the "anti-Florida" given its left-ward tilt as of late.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump criminally charged; Gun reform unlikely post-Nashville