Former U.S. President Donald Trump turned himself in on Thursday to the authorities in Atlanta for the Georgia election interference case, with his iconic mug shot and those of his accused acolytes heating up tittle-tattle that they not only told about the defendants’ cynicism, but an irony of the U.S. political system.
“As soon as it was taken, it became the de facto picture of the year. A historic image that will be seared into the public record and referred to for perpetuity – the first mug shot of an American president, taken by the Fulton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office after Donald J. Trump’s fourth indictment,” noted The New York Times in a report posted on Friday.
“As such, it is also a symbol of either equality under the law or the abuse of it – the ultimate memento of a norm-shattering presidency and this social-media-obsessed, factionalized age,” it added. “In the future the mug shot will seem like the ultimate bookend to a political arc in the United States that began decades ago.”
“It’s dramatically unprecedented,” Sean Wilentz, a professor of American history at Princeton University, was quoted as saying. “Of all the millions, maybe billions of photos taken of Donald Trump, this could stand as the most famous. Or notorious.”
In the photo, Trump is posed against a plain gray backdrop, just like the 11 of his fellow defendants whose mug shots were taken before him, including Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell and Rudolph Giuliani. “He has long favored a scowl over a grin, the better to project strength,” said the newspaper in another article published on Friday.
SMILE MUG SHOTS
“The traditional mug shot is usually a grim affair: poorly lit and sullen. It is a permanent portrait of shame — the legal system’s scarlet letter,” said The New York Times. “It is, almost by definition, unsmiling.”
“But the booking photos emerging from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in Atlanta, where Donald J. Trump and 18 others are being charged with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, include several that are oddly cheerful,” it noted.
Trump’s former lawyer Jenna Ellis smiles broadly, as does David Shafer, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Scott Hall, a Trump operative, fails to repress a smirk. Sidney Powell, accused of peddling debunked conspiracy theories about the election, reveals a twinkle in her eye.
“The statement that all of their facial expressions convey unmistakably? Defiance,” it said. “Modern politics in the age of social media is, as much as anything, a battle to create, control and define visual images. And the mug shot, pioneered in 1840s Belgium as a utilitarian method of identification, is becoming a new front in that fight.”
“But the way his accused co-conspirators have been composing themselves for the camera of the criminal justice system, and for the lens of history, evokes the other supporting roles they are playing, in what seems an extraordinary production of political theater – one in keeping with Mr. Trump’s oft-repeated contention that the prosecution is a farce and a joke,” it added.