Thursday, August 3, 2023

Trump's Indictment and 2024

I can't see Trump winning the general in 2024. Voters will pick the least worst candidate if there's going to be a rematch of 2020, and while both Biden and Trump are very bad, respondents saw trump was the worst of the worst.

But if Trump is somehow --- only God knows --- reelected to the Oval Office, it will be both a political and legal victory. Team Trump has a plan to dismantle the deep state and streamline power in the hands of the executive. That would be really something to behold. 

We'll see, of course.

Meanwhile, at the New York Times, "Trump’s 2024 Campaign Seeks to Make Voters the Ultimate Jury":

Donald J. Trump has long understood the stakes in the election: The courts may decide his cases, but only voters can decide whether to return him to power.

The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overthrow the 2020 election ensures that a federal jury will determine whether he is held accountable for his elaborate, drawn-out and unprecedented attempt to negate a vote of the American people and cling to power.

But it is tens of millions of voters who may deliver the ultimate verdict.

For months now, as prosecutors pursued criminal charges against him in multiple jurisdictions, Mr. Trump has intertwined his legal defenses with his electoral arguments. He has called on Republicans to rally behind him to send a message to prosecutors. He has made clear that if he recaptures the White House, he will use his powers to ensure his personal freedom by shutting down prosecutions still underway.

In effect, he is both running for president and trying to outrun the law enforcement officials seeking to convict him.

That dynamic has transformed the stakes of this election in ways that may not always be clear. Behind the debates over inflation, “wokeness” and the border, the 2024 election is at its core about the fundamental tenets of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power, the independence of the nation’s justice system, the meaning of political free speech and the principle that no one is above the law.

Now, the voters become the jury.

Mr. Trump has always understood this. When he ran for president the first time, he channeled the economic, racial and social resentments of his voters. But as his legal peril has grown, he has focused on his own grievances and projected them onto his supporters.

“If these illegal persecutions succeed, if they’re allowed to set fire to the law, then it will not stop with me. Their grip will close even tighter around YOU,” Mr. Trump wrote to supporters on Tuesday night. “It’s not just my freedom on the line, but yours as well — and I will NEVER let them take it from you.”

Mr. Trump’s arguments have so far been effective in his pursuit of his party’s nomination. After two previous indictments — over hush-money payments to a porn star and purloined classified documents — Republican voters rallied behind the former president with an outpouring of support and cash.

A New York Times/Siena College poll released this week found that Mr. Trump has a commanding lead over all his Republican rivals combined, leading Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida by a two-to-one margin in a theoretical head-to-head matchup. Mr. Trump, even as America’s best-known criminal defendant, is in a dead heat with Mr. Biden among general election voters, the poll found.

About 17 percent of voters who said they preferred him over Mr. Biden supported Mr. Trump despite believing that he had committed serious federal crimes or that he had threatened democracy after the 2020 election.

The prevailing Republican view is that the charges against Mr. Trump are a political vendetta.

Republicans have spent two years rewriting the narrative of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, reimagining the violent attempt to disrupt the Electoral College vote count as a freedom fight against a Washington “deep state.” The result is that in many quarters of the Republican Party, Mr. Trump is more trusted than the prosecutors, special counsels and judges handling the cases against him.

“Even those who were fence sitting or window shopping, many of them are of the belief that the justice system under President Biden is simply out to get the former president,” said Jimmy Centers, a former aide to former Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, a Republican who later served as Mr. Trump’s ambassador to China. “It has only strengthened his support in Iowa, to the point at which his floor is much more solid than what it was earlier this spring.”

Whether Republicans continue to stand by Mr. Trump, as they have for months, remains to be seen in the wake of Tuesday’s indictment.

“At a certain point, are you really going to hitch your whole party to a guy who is just trying to stay out of jail?” asked former Representative Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican who lost her seat when suburban voters turned against Mr. Trump in 2018. “There may be another strategy that Republicans could come up with. And if they can’t, I think they lose.”

Strategists supporting rivals of Mr. Trump say that over time, the continued charges could hurt his standing with Republican voters, distract Mr. Trump from focusing on presenting his plans for the future and raise questions about his electability in the general election.

“Even though people will rally around him in the moment, it starts to erode favorablity and his market share,” said Kristin Davison, chief operating officer of Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Mr. DeSantis. “More people will start to look forward.”

Or they may not...