The New York TimesThe New York Times

A president faces prosecution, and a democracy is tested

By Peter Baker

30 Mar 2023 · 7 min read

Editor's Note

Trump's indictment is a historical first and has far-reaching implications for democracy, the NYT argues. It could either tear at the fabric of the system or bring accountability to the presidency.

WASHINGTON — For the first time in American history, a former president of the United States has been indicted on criminal charges. It is worth pausing to repeat that: An American president has been indicted for a crime for the first time in history.

So many unthinkable firsts have occurred since Donald Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, so many inviolable lines have been crossed, so many unimaginable events have shocked the world, that it is easy to lose sight of just how astonishing this particular moment really is.

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