But this indictment is transforming Mr Trump from Ahab back into the great white whale.
With all eyes once more upon him, he is again bearing down on America’s democracy.
Mr Bragg has returned Mr Trump’s litany of grievance to the present tense and him to his favourite role, as the target of obsessed leftists.
“They are not coming after me,” Mr Trump likes to tell his crowds.
“They are coming after you, and I am just standing in their way.”
After the indictment, he delivered a particularly vicious speech at his Florida club.
“The only crime that I have committed”, he said, “is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.”
Mr Trump has denied the charges and any affairs, but he has admitted paying hush money to protect his reputation, without regard for any campaign.
Past sex scandals involving President Bill Clinton and Senator John Edwards suggest voters and juries have a high tolerance for political chicanery to conceal intimate matters.
Maybe Mr Bragg will persuade a jury in the end.
But with Mr Trump not due back in court in this case until December, even Republicans who are determined to stop him are accusing the prosecutor, a Democrat, of playing politics.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said Mr Bragg had set “a dangerous precedent for criminalising political opponents”.
Mr Trump has surged in recent polls, and he claims to have hauled in millions of dollars in donations with his pleas for support against the prosecution in Manhattan.
In the clearest index of broader Republican sentiment, Mr Trump’s opponents for the nomination have felt it necessary to fall in behind him.
(One noble exception is Asa Hutchinson, a former governor of Arkansas, who said Mr Trump should withdraw out of respect for the justice system and the presidency.)
In mid-March Mr DeSantis mocked Mr Trump for “paying hush money to a porn star”.
But he soon joined the chorus, pandering with an empty vow not to “assist in an extradition request”.
The White House apparently regards this as good news.
Joe Biden, who is all but certain to run for re-election, is said to believe Mr Trump is the easiest Republican to beat.
Other, more threatening indictments are probably headed Mr Trump’s way, over his attempts to overturn the election and to make off with classified documents.
The publication Politico reported on April 4th that Mr Biden’s advisers believe the swing voters who deserted Mr Trump in 2020 will not return to him, given all the furore he creates.
What dangerous assumptions.
Mr Trump may have lost the 2020 election by 7m votes, but he was just over 40,000 votes away from tying Mr Biden in the electoral college.
In a general-election campaign, Mr Trump can count on polarisation to rally doubting Republicans behind him, and Mr Biden’s approval ratings remain low by historic standards.
Who knows what may happen with his health or the economy.
The indictment in New York may help Mr Trump demean any other legal action against him.
It could be hoped, once, that the challenge to decency posed by Mr Trump would bring out the best in America.
Instead, Mr Trump has made zealots and quislings out of Republicans while inflaming and dumbing down Democrats and polarising, which is to say corrupting, the news media.
He promises to make America great but he keeps making it worse, and he is far from done.