When Former President Donald J. Trump was arraigned yesterday, April 4 — two weeks after Trump alleged the indictment would happen — and pleaded not guilty to 43 counts of falsifying business records, no cameras were allowed to videotape or photograph the proceedings. While news organizations are typically unable to broadcast from inside a courtroom, several media outlets had petitioned a Manhattan state court to make an exception given the historic nature of the case. That request was denied: Media was allowed to record before and after the proceedings, but had to leave once the arraignment began.
Only courtroom artists could capture the room and the former president’s expression for those 48 minutes. Despite limited source material to work with, Twitter users have still gone to town imagining their scenarios of Trump in the courtroom or a holding cell, mocking Trump’s expressions, and comparing his demeanor to figures from Dominar Rygel XVI, the deposed ruler from the early-aughts science fiction series Farscape, to Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the Grinch.
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Some pulled inspiration directly from portrait artist Jane Rosenberg’s fantastic courtroom sketch, placing the former president’s likeness in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” (1893) or adding a bucket of fried chicken from KFC. One user Tweeted that Rosenberg’s sketch channeled the same energy as Siegfried Woldhek’s 2019 pen drawing of Trump, “Stable Genius.” Meanwhile, London-based artist Chris Barker took the 2016 protest cry “Dump Trump” literally, showing America’s first indicted president on a toilet.
Journalist Sean Brown posted a meme placing Trump in an episode of the animated series Scooby Doo, Where Are You!. Here, Fred reveals the bound former president as the ghost haunting the last two presidential campaigns. (The jury is out on whether the president would have been the ghost clown, phantom virus, or the creeper.) A speech bubble plays on what is arguably the cartoon’s most famous quote: “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”
Many people, including Trump himself, have fantasized about what a presidential mugshot might look like and the spectacle it would generate. While the New York Police Department fingerprinted Trump, no booking photograph exists. This did not stop the Trump campaign from creating a fake shot to sell t-shirts and other merchandise — which Twitter user Bill B reimagined with a less dignified tone.
While Trump’s indictment seems like several years in the making to some, it possibly also feels like just desserts to those who have been on the receiving end of Trump’s tirades, including the Exonerated Five and former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Exonerated Five member Yusef Salaam released a press statement on March 30 with only the word “Karma” and made an advertisement mimicking the full-page ad the former president printed in the New York Times that called for the death penalty against them.
Others have imagined scenes with Trump and his allies behind bars. One Twitter user portrayed an image of the former secretary of state visiting Trump while he’s in prison, while another post refers to the adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels.
Feast on more of the best Trump memes of the week below!