By Ben Baker and Nicholas Fogleman
While standing for hours across from a Washington D.C. courthouse, onlookers were joined by international spectators who found themselves touring the city on the indictment day. Global opinions of Trump were largely negative, with some bitterly citing similarities between the embattled former president and their own former leaders and lambasting his involvement on Jan. 6.
“I think the Congress [Capitol] riot was totally wrong,” said Chris Pan, an education psychology researcher on business from Japan. “They destroyed government property just because a small group of people want him to be [a] dictator. Because he was the president, he has some responsibility, too,” Pan said.
Other visitors voiced similar frustrations, expressing an antagonism towards the former president.
Allam and Alessandra Machari, Italian tourists, are not fans of Donald Trump, though Allam’s mother is. They couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the action unfold. “He’s guilty.” Allam Machari said of Trump’s involvement.
The Trump indictment brings back memories of Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-Prime Minister of Italy, who was embroiled in political scandals for most of his political career, Alessandra Machari said.
Their views on the outcome of Trump’s legal battle, they said, are influenced by Berlusconi’s ability to avoid significant legal repercussions using his political power and money to avoid jail time. Though they are hopeful the United States will successfully convict Trump.
“It’s a joke for me, I am Italian and for me, it is impossible that the ex-president go in jail, in America it is possible,” Alessandra Machari said.
Not all tourists in the crowd were as critical of Trump’s conduct during the Jan. 6 attack. Basel al-Arawahi – a teacher visiting from Oman – arrived with his cousins, hoping to catch a glimpse of the proceedings Thursday afternoon.
“We are here to see what is going on, but we don’t have any opinion for or against,” al-Arawahi said.
Al-Arawahi said he does not agree with all of Donald Trump’s executive decisions – such as moves to sever relationships with countries in Asia and the Middle East – but stopped short of supporting charges against a former president.
“He is now outside the government,” al-Arawahi said, “He is not the president. He’s now a normal human or normal person.”
While Pan, Allam and Alessandra Machari and al-Arawahi critiqued Trump, each believed it would be difficult to prosecute an ex-president.
Allam Machari, like Alessandra, harkened back to the Berlusconi era, doubting a conviction could come to fruition based on his history.
“In Italy, it’s almost impossible that the president go to jail,” Machari said
Despite reservations regarding a possible Trump conviction, each tourist shared a mutual distaste for the former president’s morality and policy agenda. Pan skewered Trump on his character’s quality and aimed at hawkish policies and rhetoric he believes damaged the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Personally, I think he should think about his manners, as a human being in general,” Pan said. “He messed up some international policies, some international relationships.”
Though not personally fond of Trump, al-Arawahi views him in a less dangerous light. To al-Arawahi, the people of Oman and much of the Middle East see Trump as an almost entertaining figure and are amused by the unfolding of his political career.
Trump faded from the Omani national consciousness in the years since his 2020 election defeat al-Arawahi said. He does not see the former president as a serious actor on the world stage.
“People in Oman don’t think about Donald Trump that much,” al-Arawahi said, “They look at Donald Trump like [a] funny character,” al-Arawahi said.
If convicted, Trump will join the over 500 individuals sentenced for their roles on Jan. 6., according to the Justice Department.