Though I do not believe the recent New York district attorney and grand jury criminal indictments will sink the ‘unsinkable’ good ship Trump, I definitely believe that the former president is in for some protracted stormy weather.
Admittedly, as regular readers of this space know, I am not a fan of the temperament, judgment, over-reactions, and conspiracy theory-spewing aspects of Trump World and its great orange leader. That said, I can also understand why/how fans of the former president have now contributed in excess of $4 million in less than 24 hours following those indictments, to his latest campaign or legal defense fund. The “Stormy weather” indictments are out-raising the “unconstitutional” raid on Mar-a-Lago.
The former commander-in-chief now also has another vested interest in getting his old job back, there is a reasonably strong argument for precedent, set and reinforced by two impeachments without indictments during his presidency, that a sitting president cannot be indicted, tried, or convicted. But a candidate can.
While many of his supporters believe the witch hunt is ongoing and real; these indictments, on a case among the weaker of many poor choices, wrongdoings, and potentially criminal acts, strike me not only as yesterday’s news but even with the actual indictments by D.A. Alvin Bragg still sealed, this case seems more about chest thumping and bragging rights than about substantive criminal acts, which would stand up on appeal if a conviction were to be obtained.
Related to the Jan. 6 Congressional Commission and the special grand jury sessions here in Georgia, as a layperson, it seems that the case to encourage illegally overturning the results of a lawful election, and/or encouraging acts of treason and the potential overthrow of the American government, seem much stronger and more plausible opportunities for conviction.
Donald J. Trump is the only American president to be twice impeached. He is now the first to face criminal indictment. Neither are lists one wants to lead. But I do think that the ‘Teflon Don’ will likely beat this wrap, and see two impeachments that essentially become footnotes to his Wikipedia entry. This may more embolden than weaken Trump, while also clearly buttressing his recently otherwise flagging fundraising.
Most establishment and rank-and-file Republicans do not view Trump as their strongest candidate for nomination, but they also do not know how to be rid of him. Trump still appears to be a giant in a field of limited name identification, with the possible exception of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. I think the Republicans have several stronger stalking horses, including former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, but weeks of Trump bravado on CNN and the front page of most American daily newspapers fighting back this most recent ‘kangaroo court,’ don’t really much ding his battle armor either.
I will predict now, and this is an opinion column, that Donald Trump will not be the GOP nominee in 2024, but that doesn’t end the potential damage that he can do to the Grand Old Party.
Does the name Ross Perot ring any bells? Perot broke away from his Republican roots, out of a long-standing grudge with then-President George H. W. Bush in his 1992 re-election campaign, facing Democratic standard bearer and nominee, then Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas. While Bush contributed to his own loss in a masterfully poorly run campaign, Perot captured 17 percent of the vote, mostly from GOP voters, and gave the White House to Clinton via a plurality and win of the Electoral College.
We all know that Donald Trump will not go quietly into the night. Short of two hots and a cot in a state or federal prison or penitentiary, he will remain a candidate for president. Trump may have enough baggage to re-sink the Lusitania, but he also has fervent followers and a unique ability to raise millions from small donors, while also expending very little of his own wealth.
Stormy Daniels may not extract as big a pound of flesh as she might like, however, she probably does help Trump not return to residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is for some a cause for delight and celebration, even if it potentially also means the death of the modern GOP in this process as well. This particular case though will not be the stake that takes out the Teflon Don. Perhaps this is only an appetizer of the legal feast on the beast yet to come. Bon appetite.
Bill Crane is political analyst and commentator in metro Atlanta, as well as a columnist for The Champion, DeKalb Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can contact him or comment on a column at firstname.lastname@example.org.