From the Big Apple to the Big Pineapple—Some Thoughts As I Await America’s First Presidential Indictment in History

by Emil Guillermo

I’m still in Manhattan as I write this and I’m wondering, if New York is the Big Apple, why isn’t Honolulu the Big Pineapple?

Among other things, I’m performing in a play off-Broadway at Theater For the New City, and it’s totally impacted my perspective on everything.

First of all, I’m not a New York tourist, I’m more like a working resident. I’m “acting” like a New Yorker.

And when it comes to whether or not there will be protests over the possibility of an impending Trump indictment, New Yorkers seem more concerned with when the cold weather is going away, not when Trump is going away, or with any repeat of Jan. 6.

Judging from New Yorker attitudes, if anyone wants to “take back the government” in the name of Donald Trump, I’d like to see them take on the NYPD.

I’m actually still quite immersed in the play I’m in, Ishmael Reed’s “The Conductor.” It deals with how world events impact local grassroots politics. In Reed’s play, a fictional Indian despot’s actions impact Indian Americans who face a wave of xenophobia and are forced to flee to Canada on an “underground railroad.”

Hence, the need for a “conductor.”

Turns out everyone who is feeling some heat may need one to flee the U.S. In the play, it makes for some strange bedfellows.

“The Conductor” runs through March 26, and is doing so well, the theater is bringing it back in August.

Reed wasn’t so prescient to include the possibility of a Trump indictment or four, but my being in New York this week makes me wonder if the twice-impeached former president of the United States would soon need a “conductor.”

To get to Canada? After all he said about Justin Trudeau?

I was thinking out loud with Filipino American Studies Prof. Daniel Phil Gonzales on my Emil Amok’s Takeout on (Episode 489/481).

We go beyond whether Trump will get indicted and go straight to wondering if Trump will get convicted for any of the cases that are brewing from minor to major, they include the New York hush money/Stormy Daniels/falsifying of documents case; The Georgia voter fraud case; the Mar-a-Lago stolen presidential documents case; and the case involving the Jan. 6 insurrection.

If Trump lost any one of them, would he even have the courage of Martha Stewart to don a matching orange jumpsuit? Or does he just flat-out leave the country? Sort of like the way Marcos left the Philippines to hide out in Hawaii.

Gonzales says Trump won’t have the guts to face the music and will leave.  But to where?

I think Trump has his Putin parachute ready under his left arm.

And under his right arm, there’s his North Korean parachute fashioned together with love letters from Kim Jong Un.

Ah, a former president in exile because he dared to want to be president again?

But that’s the narrative the Republicans are drumming up, as if all this legal drama is merely political, and that no laws were broken (that we know of).  Trump still continues to rile up his base to protest, calling the legal proceedings a “Witch Hunt.” (If I were a Wiccan, I would be offended by his continued use of the term).

Republicans can bad mouth the legal process all they want, but it’s another thing to intimidate the New York DA with threats of congressional investigations.

What’s worse is that the law and order Republicans can’t see they have a blind spot when it comes to respecting the rule of law when their own fearful leader is the possible perp in violation of laws.

Trump’s reaction was simply to go half-cocked, not even knowing what the charges are. But most appalling is his go-to—the call for violence.

“Protest, protest, protest,” Trump wrote in his social media posts. The twice impeached former president, who wants to be president again respects the law so much, his best response to an indictment in New York is to throw a dictator’s tantrum and to use a dictator’s tool—violence.

This is a man who doesn’t understand American democracy and doesn’t deserve to be president even once.

I find it astonishing that it’s not just leading Republicans, but those in our communities who are still supporting him.

When it comes to Asian Americans running for president, Nikki Haley is still mum. But there’s Vivek Ramaswamy, the anti-woke Indian American rushing to Trump’s defense.

“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Ramaswamy said on Twitter.

“This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself,” Ramaswamy continued. “I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic.”

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Harvard College, Harvard Law graduate, who grew up in Harlem and knows what it’s like to be stopped by police for no good reason other than one’s race, has said his prosecutors will not be intimidated.

It’s important that this first case go through. America needs to let it sink in. The case involving hush money to a porn star may not be so insignificant if falsified documents were involved, and if the payoff of Daniels to keep quiet had any impact on Trump’s campaign (it probably would have exacerbated that  “Access Hollywood” tape that came out at the same time).

If Bragg’s indictment comes down in the next week or so, Trump will get booked, printed and photographed.  He will be treated like a former president and a common criminal. That’s never happened before in history. Will it make him more popular? No democracy-loving American would vote for an indicted outlaw for president a second time.

It’s almost not important there’s a conviction. Just getting the first indictment out will clear the way for Fulton County DA Fani Willis, another African American with a sense of justice. She’s seeking the death penalty for the shooter of the Asian Americans in the Atlanta Spa Killings. In the Trump matters, the possibility of racketeering charges coming out of the grand jury has been raised.

We need the New York case as a first stress test for the legal battles ahead.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) decried it all, saying he just wants to see equal justice for all.

We all do, especially in the BIPOC community, where equal justice is hard to come by.

Trump himself has said he wants his “perp” walk, the parade before the media as he’s transferred during booking. He believes it will make him appear to be the victim? Oh, so now he’s playing victim games?

I don’t think it’s going to work. Even scalawag Republicans wouldn’t stoop to elect a man so tainted as a perpy, indicted Trump.

But this is why he’s dangerous to democracy. There are the holdouts among the leading Republicans who are willing to lose all their credibility for this man.

Forget the banks, worry about democracy.

And don’t worry about Trump. He’s probably going to sell an NFT of the first presidential mug shot.

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Catch it Live most days @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on

EMIL GUILLERMO is a journalist and commentator. Nationally, he was host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Regionally, he worked in California, Texas and Hawaii, where he was on the editorial board of the Advertiser, and a columnist for the Star-Bulletin.

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