Donald Trump appeared angry and shocked when he appeared in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, but he brushed off the moment over the weekend, arguing that the impeachment and other legal issues would cost him the 2024 Republican nomination, people close to him said.
As his status as a criminal defendant subjects him to the structures of the judiciary, the former president is playing increasingly high stakes to inextricably tie his legal strategy to his political game plan as he seeks to recapture the Oval Office next year.
Trump’s payoff is that using his legal troubles as a campaign issue will harden support from his base and Republican elected officials, and that support could reduce or wrongly dismiss cases in Georgia or various other criminal investigations by the U.S. Justice Department.
While this approach may or may not work, Trump’s advisers agree that campaigning on his personal legal issues that appeal to Republican primary voters could backfire in the general election.
But the benefits to Trump of the 2016 allegations of hush money allegedly paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels for campaign purposes are immediately apparent. Wall media coverage.
Most hurt by the indictment, his advisers argue, is his expected rival for the Republican nomination: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been forced to come to Trump’s defense and still falls behind him in several polls, suggesting a trend. rather than an external conclusion.
In a recent Yahoo News poll, Trump defeated DeSantis 57% to 31%. Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador in the Trump administration.
Trump improved his lead in an internal poll by McLaughlin and Associates, which polled 1,000 2024 general election voters and found that Trump would defeat DeSantis 63% to 30%, up from his 52% and DeSantis’ 40% from January. .
Trump’s allies have cited allegations that Republican members of Congress have lined up, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan sending subpoenas to the Manhattan district attorney’s office to obtain classified information about the case against him.
And Trump got a boost in fundraising, his campaign said, raising more than $12 million in donations in the week after the indictment. Roughly a third came from first-time donors, though the actual number won’t be confirmed for several weeks.
It’s unclear whether political pressure — as well as personal attacks on prosecutors that Trump has promised to initiate — is working to deter prosecutors. In Georgia, prosecutors expect to indict Trump and dozens of others in connection with efforts to rig the state’s 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said.
But if Trump can’t actually block the lawsuits, the next best outcome for him is to raise suspicion among voters around the country that the lawsuits are at least politically motivated, his advisers have suggested in conversations with his legal team.
Even beyond major news events like Trump’s indictment or his arrest in the New York hush money case, advisers and allies have spent weeks discussing how combining legal strategy with political strategy could be a winning formula.
At least one Trump ally referred to the former president as a “guilty pleasure” for everyone in the political ecology, describing how Trump-related developments are pitting Democrats against Republicans and raising ratings for cable news. Outlets.
Wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s trial — including helicopter footage of Trump boarding a plane from his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort to New York and speedboats hitting his motorcade as he drove down the FDR Drive in Manhattan — boosted ratings for every major. TV Network.
The evening after the trial, Fox News reached 6.4 million viewers on Tucker Carlson’s show. MSNBC hit 2.8 million viewers and CNN reached 2.2 million viewers for their special coverage, more than their top-rated shows in the first quarter of 2023, which drew 3.3 million, 1.4 million and 0.6 million viewers, respectively.
The Trump team is keeping a close eye on cable news viewers. Last month, when Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he mocked an aide for talking to CNN because of the recent ratings slump, then laughed about how TV networks would rent a speedboat “just for Trump.”