If anybody could pull this off, it has to be Donald Trump.
Facing multiple investigations of a criminal and civil nature, the tough-talking ex-president seems determined to make another presidential run in 2024 despite the odds. And Republican officials seem happy to stick with him, regardless of his future circumstances.
In the Trump era, the GOP faithful believe their leader can rise above a few criminal indictments coming from New York prosecutors, capture the party nomination and win redemption in the election.
Asked by The Hill news site if Trump’s standing as a political force in the 2022 midterm elections and in 2024 would be damaged if he’s indicted, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said: “I would think it would but on the other hand it might fire up some people. You just never know in the era of Trump.”
The leader of Trump’s fan club on Capitol Hill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), offered this assessment: “I don’t think anything coming out of New York is going to affect Trump very much.” Another Republican senator said the GOP voters would only be affected if Trump was campaigning from prison.
GOP voters ‘unlikely to be swayed by almost anything’
Even Trump’s most fervent GOP detractor in the Senate, Mitt Romney of Utah, said: “He seems to have a pretty good hold on the base of our party. I think that’s unlikely to be swayed by almost anything.”
To be clear, no ex-president has faced a criminal indictment. Until Trump, no president had faced two impeachment trials. Under Trump, the Republicans in 2020 lost the White House, the Senate and the House.
What’s more a new poll – before any grand jury drama or court document damage — shows that two-thirds of voters do not want him to run again in three years. Among Republicans, the opposite is true. Two-thirds want Trump to enter the ’24 race.
Make no mistake, those in Trump world know the potential dangers following the announcement that a grand jury in New York has been formed to investigate the former president’s company, the Trump Organization, for criminal activities.
The decision by the New York Attorney General to team up with the U.S. Attorney for southern New York to launch a 6-month special grand jury investigation of possible criminal financial dealings could snag Trump or family members or his business colleagues.
Politico reports that an aide within the Trump orbit said “there’s definitely a cloud of nerves in the air” because the prosecution may secure insider information.
On the other hand, Brendan Buck, a former aide to Republican House speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan, tweeted on Wednesday: “I’m fairly confident a freshly indicted Donald Trump would still win the GOP nomination in ‘24 without much trouble.”
Loyal Democrats joined the conversation, tweeting that an indicted Trump would play the role of “martyr” while his die-hard followers would treat the targeting of the ex-president as a “badge of honor.”
Dems chagrined by the lack of concern among Republicans believe that Trump’s upcoming legal troubles go well beyond the eight years of Trump tax returns and financial documentation obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office thanks to Supreme Court rulings.
More investigations beyond New York grand jury
In addition to the prospect of indictments on tax fraud or possibly bank fraud, a Georgia grand jury is looking at 2020 election interference by Trump as a district attorney investigates possible crimes such as the solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.
These allegations arise from Trump’s infamous post-election phone call when, desperate to flip President Joe Biden’s narrow win in Georgia, he told state election officials “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”
Trump also faces potential legal jeopardy as Washington, D.C., investigators continue to probe allegations that he, with the help of Ivanka, grifted his 2017 inaugural celebration committee by diverting about $1 million to the Trump family business.
The federal criminal investigation for possible misuse of some of the $107 million raised by the non-profit inaugural committee focuses on claims that the Trump International Hotel in Washington welcomed committee members to use their facilities as a home base, then charged them exorbitant fees.
Even after the expenses were adjusted by the hotel staff, the committee was charged a rate of $175,000 per day for use of the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms, with a $700,000 charge for four days of use, according to the investigative journalism team at ProPublica.
And one more worry for Trump and Ivanka. An investigation by the New York Times last September found, among numerous irregularities, that Trump had paid Ivanka $750,000 in “consulting fees” then wrote them off on his taxes, even as his daughter was earning a Trump Organization salary to cover the same real estate work. Over an 8-year period, $26 million of “unexplained” consulting fee write-offs were claimed on Trump tax returns.
Relying on previously undisclosed documents, the Times found that Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and the same amount his first year in office.
In 10 of the previous 15 years, he had paid no income taxes.
To me, that sounds like Trump is facing a mess of trouble once the grand jury members, just average citizens who’ve never cheated the system, hear the true story of Trump world.