The master showman might relish the scene: hours consumed by aerial shots of motorcades and an airplane, circus-like protests and counter-protests across multiple cities, a long wait outside a courtroom for a not-guilty plea and, finally, a prime-time rally back home.
But the lasting images of a historic day might be fleeting glimpses of a most unusual defendant at the courthouse in Manhattan. Former President Donald Trump was stone-faced and silent, eyes narrowed in the view of omnipresent cameras -- on screens everywhere but in no way in control of the moment.
So it is for Trump and the Republican Party he has long since taken dominance over. Trump is, once again, at the center of wild action consuming virtually all of the national political oxygen.
What's less familiar is how little Trump is able to define the terms of this moment. And with this scene in the Trump show likely to last a while, the party he has shaped to his liking is no better situated to manage an unfamiliar landscape with wildly unpredictable consequences.