The mug shot, taken just minutes after his booking, captured a stern-looking Trump staring intently at the camera with his trademark red tie tightly knotted.
In no time, Trump utilized his social media platform Truth Social, as well as his recently reactivated X account, to post the mug shot. "ELECTION INTERFERENCE! NEVER SURRENDER!" Trump posted on X for the first time after the platform suspended his account for more than two years. (Related: The photo that will win Trump the 2024 presidency.)
Trump also posted the photo on his campaign website along with an appeal for donations. The former president claimed that he had been "arrested despite having committed no crime," a stance consistent with his previous statements about the legal cases against him.
The booking photo gained mixed reactions from his supporters. Others questioned the necessity of releasing a booking photo, while others saw it as an opportunity to further amplify their messages.
Malcolm Davis, 19, a vocal Trump supporter, remarked: "The mug shot isn't necessary and is done to hurt him. But it won't."
Laura Loomer, a former Republican congressional candidate, saw the image as a potential icon. "We want them to take a mug shot. We want to put it on a T-shirt. It will go worldwide. It will be a more popular image than the Mona Lisa," Loomer exclaimed.
The release of the mug shot turned into a badge of honor for Trump and a segment of his fan base rather than a moment of shame and humiliation for facing four separate indictments with 13 felony counts in Georgia.
After the mug shot went public, images of Trump began appearing on different merch, including T-shirts, mugs and koozies, while other supporters digitally superimposed their own faces into the mug shot and shared the modified images on X. These unusual movements found their way into Trump's campaign strategy and were added to his political merch lineup.
William Howell, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, noted the unusual nature of the scandal for political gain. "There's nothing like the scale of what's going on – a politician of Trump's stature who's using the scandal to such political benefit."
Mary Angela Bock, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, highlighted the stark contrast between the impact of mug shots on individuals with power and those without.
"Folks without power, they're criminalized. They don't have much say about it. But folks who have a lot of power get to redefine that picture," said Bock. Elected officials possess the resources and influence to redefine the meaning of such images, effectively diminishing their potential to cause lasting damage.
Howell even suggested that Trump's campaign could benefit from this polarizing incident through fundraising, which the former president has already capitalized on by selling merch featuring a mock Trump mug shot.
As the unconventional use of Trump's mug shot gains traction, it not only symbolizes solidarity but also underscores the unyielding loyalty of his followers. Howell noted: "This isn't just that they're going to stand with him through fires. It's that the fires are only going to strengthen the bonds between them."
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Watch this clip from "Dick Morris Democracy" on Newsmax as the host touches on the targeting of former President Donald Trump.
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