Who cares about Donald Trump’s crimes? GOP appeal grows as walls close in

It was reported on Friday that Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will be testifying before a grand jury today. This is widely considered to be leading to a probable indictment of Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money case after the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, invited the former president to testify last week. Apparently, prosecutors routinely give that option to targets they are about to charge with a crime.

You’ll recall that the case pertains to the hush money scheme cooked by Trump and the National Inquirer back in 2016 to pay off women who slept with Donald Trump. The Daniels case ended up being a criminal investigation when it was revealed that Cohen bought her story through a shell company and was later reimbursed by Trump personally. Cohen went to jail for his part in this and his indictment left no doubt that he was doing the bidding of Trump who was nonetheless not charged. It appears that Bragg may have decided to rectify that.

Meanwhile, the case in Georgia seems to be getting close to some kind of conclusion. The New York Attorney General’s civil case against Trump and the Trump Org. is still in play. And the E. Jean Carroll defamation case is chugging right along just as the pair of Special Prosecutor cases pertaining to the classified documents theft and the January 6th insurrection are being energetically investigated.

It’s a lot.

Here we have a former president, and current Republican front-runner for the GOP nomination, as the target or subject of criminal investigations and massive civil litigation. And these cases run the gamut from tawdry payoffs to a porn star and the defamation of a woman who accuses him of rape to massive financial crimes, electoral fraud, espionage and sedition. These cases are going to be rolling out over the course of months as the presidential race is heating up.

Everyone is aware of this and yet, it doesn’t seem to be a deal breaker.

In fact, to the extent that the GOP establishment and some voters are second-guessing a third Trump campaign, it is rarely mentioned that he is a one-man crime spree. Their only concern is that they really want to win and they aren’t sure that he has it in him to go another round. However, if he manages to pull off a primary win you can be sure that they’ll be right on board all the way, indictments or no indictments.

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Trump thinks an indictment will actually help him and it will almost certainly motivate his supporters to fork over more of their hard earned cash. After the Mar-a-Lago search, he was collecting over $1 million a day for several days afterwards. And virtually everyone in the GOP reflexively defended him. Even arch-rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis jumped in with a perfect rendition of Trumpian talking points:

“The raid on [Mar-a-Lago] is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves,”

I’m only surprised he didn’t call it the”woke federal agencies” and the “woke regime.” It’s very unlike DeSantis to resist using the word woke at least twice in every sentence. But it did send the message that even those who are trying to knock Trump off his pedestal are with him when it comes to committing crimes. And Trump has every reason to believe they will continue to do so. When asked at the recent CPAC gathering if he would drop out of the race if he were to be indicted Trump told reporters, “Oh, absolutely, I won’t even think about leaving … probably it’ll enhance my numbers, but it’s a very bad thing for America. It’s very bad for the country.”

The monumental problem Republicans face is that it doesn’t matter if he’s indicted, on trial or even in jail.

There have been a number of times in the past few months as these cases have been heating up when Trump has gone even farther and hinted that if he is legally pursued, there will be violence. After the Mar-a-Lago raid, he made it pretty clear:

“If a thing like that happened, I would have no prohibition against running,” Trump said in an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

When Hewitt asked him how he would respond to accusations that he was inciting violence, he fatuously replied, “That’s not inciting. I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it.” Over the weekend he said it again on his social media platform Truth Social:

The Department of Injustice has fully weaponized Law Enforcement in the United States, except against Joe and Hunter Biden. The American people will not stand for what is happening on our Borders, with our Rigged Elections, or with the Soviet style Weaponization of Law Enforcement!

Remember, he’s not priming some of the crazies in his party like those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th to take matters into their own hands. He’s just stating his opinion. And he’s certainly not sending any messages by recording a song with the “January 6th Choir” — prisoners who are being held without bail because they present a threat to others — which is now the number one song on iTunes.

We’re starting to hear some faint rumblings of something called “Trump fatigue,” which suggests that while people really like him they are just getting worn down by all the drama. That’s probably a real phenomenon. It used to happen with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were always dogged by scandal (although they are rank amateurs compared to Trump.) Sometimes people just want a break.

I would not be surprised if there are a fair number of Republicans who will feel that way if these legal cases actually draw blood. But I suspect that his hardcore following will become even more devoted, just as he suspects. Keep in mind that Trump brought in a lot of new voters who had never participated in politics before. They don’t care about policy. They certainly don’t care about the Republican Party which they have been programmed to believe is just as much the enemy as the Democrats. They’ll follow him wherever he wants to go.

At the moment Trump is refusing to pledge that he will support the eventual nominee in 2024 if he loses the primary. Of course he is. And he has hinted broadly at a possible third-party run should he be rejected by the Republicans, although that’s a very tough undertaking I’m not sure he would be prepared to do.

The monumental problem Republicans face is that it doesn’t matter if he’s indicted, on trial or in jail, there are some voters who will not vote for anyone but him as long as he’s in the mix. And he has said repeatedly that he will not drop out, no matter what. One of his rivals could get 70% of the delegates and he will still have that 30% and they will be with him or no one. They’re in it for Trump. And the party just can’t get around that.


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