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Trump Robbed of Legendary Mug Shot

Photo: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

For most people, getting a mug shot taken isn’t something to look forward to. But, of course, Donald Trump is not most people. In the days since his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, it’s become clear that the former president wants his arraignment on Tuesday to be a massive spectacle. And a mug shot is a key element of his plan to add himself to the list of unjustly persecuted icons, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and even Jesus Christ — while making a shit ton of money in the process.

But there’s one problem: New York law-enforcement officials robbed Trump of his money shot.

In the days before the arraignment there was some uncertainty about whether the public would see Trump’s mug shot, as a recently enacted New York law essentially bans the release of most booking photos. Then, shortly before Trump headed to the court house on Tuesday, the New York Times reported that he wouldn’t be photographed; while New York State law says anyone charged with a felony must be fingerprinted, “law enforcement officials have discretion over whether they take a mug shot.”

As Trump was being processed, Times reporter Maggie Haberman confirmed that there’s no mug shot:

Taking a booking photo of Trump wasn’t necessary. The point of a mug shot is to help identify a defendant, but Trump isn’t considered a flight risk and he has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Plus, taking the photo would have been logistically complicated. The Manhattan Criminal Courts Building, where Trump has surrendered this afternoon, does not have the needed equipment; taking the photo would require moving him to another facility and more security headaches.

Several officials were also worried that the image would leak, according to the Times. While Trump might welcome that widely predicted development, it would be illegal and would add a whole new layer of drama to the Trump case.

So in retrospect, maybe Trump’s cronies shouldn’t have gotten MAGA world so hyped about this photo. In recent days, former Trump White House spokesman Hogan Gidley assured Time that “we’ll have a mug shot,” joking, “For the record, it will be the most manly, most masculine, most handsome mug shot of all time.”

And Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara made a similar prediction to Sean Hannity on indictment eve:

Top members of Team Trump were even plotting how to milk the mug shot for fundraising and merchandizing dollars, as Rolling Stone reported:

Senior members of Team Trump have already casually discussed, the sources say, options for putting the ex-president’s mugshot on merchandise, hats, T-shirts, and other garments, and also for blasting out fundraising pitches to donors and Trump supporters that would include the mugshot, possibly in meme’d format. 

One of the sources reveals that Trump was recently briefed that a 2024 fundraising blitz, centered around the mugshot, would almost certainly net the Trump campaign millions of dollars. (Trump has already leaned into the infamy of his legal problems as a fundraising tool, announcing Monday his campaign raised $4 million in the first 24 hours after the indictment.)

While Trump was still in the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building his campaign sent out an email offering contributors a t-shirt featuring a fake photo:

But law-enforcement officials’ depriving Trump of his mug shot is still a hit not just to his ego but to his finances. As they say, better luck next indictment.

This post has been updated throughout.

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Trump Robbed of Legendary Mug Shot