Local political science professor sees Trump’s indictment as a teaching moment

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 8:24 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Here in the metro, conversations surrounding this afternoon’s unprecedented court hearing are buzzing -- from homes to offices, and even classrooms.

Park University Political Science professor Matt Harris is leaning into Donald Trump’s indictment as a teaching moment. The history books will tell you, we’ve never witnessed something like this with a former president.

Trump is facing a 34-count felony indictment. This afternoon in a Manhattan courtroom, he pleaded not guilty.

Harris’ students have questions about what happens next..

“I told them, ‘I don’t think he will end up going to jail or prison.’ I believe these are class E felonies and, for a first time offense, you don’t typically become incarcerated,” Harris said.

Harris said his students are surprised that this will not prevent Trump from running for reelection.

“Constitutionally, this won’t do much for Trump’s presidential run in 2024. There’s nothing in the constitution about getting arrested or charged or convicted,” Harris said.

While Harris himself knows a day like today is not normal in the political realm, he acknowledges that -- for some of his students -- their most formative years have been under the umbrella many have labeled as “unprecedented times.”

“When Donald Trump came on the political scene eight years ago, a lot of them were probably 11 or 12 years old. So, for them, he is a relatively normal part of American politics,” Harris said.

Years down the road, when history textbooks are published for the years 2020 through 2024, Harris can only imagine all they will contain.

“Some of it’s probably still to be written right? What if Donald Trump wins in 2024? It’s been an interesting era for sure,” Harris said.