- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Former President Donald Trump could take a page from the former Rep. Tom DeLay playbook if he is arraigned on criminal charges.

Indicted on charges of money laundering, Mr. DeLay in 2005 tossed aside tradition and went on the offensive in the simplest of ways: flashing a bright-eyed smile in his mug shot.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a similar tact in 2014, delivering a well-coiffed and grinning mug shot. In both instances, the charges against these Republican politicians were eventually dropped.

Mr. Trump is toying around with doing the same and welcomes the idea of a perp walk and plans to flash his pearly whites to the cameras, according to reports.

He also is said to want to be arraigned with his hands cuffed behind his back at the New York City courthouse.

Kevin Madden, a former spokesman for Mr. DeLay when he was House majority leader, said his former boss was able to capitalize off of what was “a very politicized effort by the attorney down in Texas, as well as Democrats in Washington.”

“So one of the scalps they wanted was a mug shot of their political opponent and what we sought to do there — and a lot of this was Tom‘s thinking too — was don’t give them what they want,” he told The Washington Times. “It was his idea when he went through the process to smile, and sort of deny what our opponents wanted.”

To top it off, Mr. DeLay‘s lawyer was eager to immediately share the fresh photo with the press, and Mr. Madden recalls telling reporters repeatedly he was going to try to track down the photographer and have him take his family’s Christmas photograph.

“Everyone was like, ‘that is a great photo,’” he said.

The money laundering charge didn’t stick to Mr. DeLay.

The world is waiting to see whether Mr. Trump will be indicted and arrested for falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

A grand jury in Manhattan has been hearing evidence for months and could bring charges as early as this week.

The situation has opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of news reports, and, according to Trump world, it’s fake news.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump was oblivious to the gravity of the situation, and has told associates he welcomes the idea of taking a perp walk under the bright lights of the news media. If given the opportunity, he is reportedly pondering flashing a smile for the cameras in a show of defiance.

Citing sources close to Mr. Trump, The Guardian reported the 76-year-old wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court.

It remains unclear, however, whether Mr. Trump would be subject to perp walk, or whether law enforcement officials would come up with a different plan for ushering him through the booking process.

Mr. Trump’s advisers brushed aside the reports.

“The president is busy winning at the moment, and I’m not sure what he has planned after that,” Jason Miller said in an email to The Washington Times.

Mr. Madden said Mr. DeLay‘s situation is akin to what Mr. Trump could go through in the sense that both political sides are going to try to use it to their advantage. Otherwise, he said, the scenarios are vastly different in large part because of the dominance of social media in today’s culture.

“I think the thing that was novel back then about our approach was that in that news environment, the instinct from a communications standpoint was to minimize [the arrest and mug shot] — make sure the story comes out late, do it on a Friday,” he said. “What was a big departure then was to own it, and take away any advantage [our political opponents] had.”

“It totally fizzled out,” he said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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