Former President Donald Trump has been charged with a litany of crimes over the past several months, but his status as defendant-in-chief has now been immortalized by a mug shot.
For those who believe Trump broke the law by arranging hush-money payments to a porn star, stealing classified documents, instigating a riot and trying to steal the 2020 election, the photo serves as a symbol of his criminal behavior. To the people who see Trump as the victim of politically-motivated prosecutions, the image signals that the nation’s legal system has been compromised by partisanship.
Either way, Trump’s mug shot marks a new era for American political scandal.
Of course, Trump joins a long list of American politicians who have found themselves facing prosecution.
From the founding of the republic to the current day, politicians being accused of wrongdoing has been an American tradition. The scope of cases runs across the political spectrum and the charges have ranged from sex scandals to bribery.
Trump’s summer of scandal began in New York, where Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged him with campaign-finance violations, claiming the former president made hush-money payments to a porn star and Playboy bunny to bury their stories of having had affairs with him. He was then hit with federal charges of illegally withholding classified documents at his Florida mansion after leaving office and for illegally working to disrupt the formal counting of the votes in Congress that confirmed his loss in the 2020 election.
But it took until Trump’s fourth indictment on state charges in Georgia, alleging that he and 18 others conspired to illegally overturn the 2020 election in which he narrowly lost the state to Biden, for a mugshot to formally appear.
Here’s a list of some recent, well-known politicians who have been arrested:
Blagojevich served as the Democratic governor of Illinois from 2003 until 2009 when he was arrested, impeached and eventually sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.
The case revolved around a “pay-for-play” scandal in which Blagojevich solicited a bribe in return for appointing someone to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he’d been elected president.
Blagojevich was released in 2020 after Trump commuted his sentence.
The former Democratic vice presidential and presidential candidate was indicted in 2011 on charges that he used campaign money to cover up an extramarital affair and to pay to support a child that was born as a result. Edwards wasn’t convicted but the revelation that he had an affair while his wife was dying of cancer ended his political career.
The onetime Republican House majority leader was indicted in 2005 by a Texas grand jury on campaign-finance and money-laundering charges. He stepped down as House speaker and opted not to seek reelection the following year. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to three years in prison but had the case overturned on appeal.
The U.S. attorney general under President Richard Nixon served 19 months in prison for his role in helping plan and orchestrate the break-in of the Democratic Party’s national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The scandal would lead to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 until 2007 was later sentenced to 15 months in prison for sexually abusing young boys while working as a high school teacher and coach in his home state of Illinois. At the time of his conviction in 2015, Hastert was the highest-ranking U.S. politician to ever be sentenced to prison time.