Trump’s Indictment Confounds Challengers

Protesters gather in front of Trump Tower in New York City Friday after a grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Happy Monday! Quinnipiac conducted a poll last month asking registered voters: “Do you think the Manhattan District Attorney’s case involving former President Donald Trump is mainly motivated by politics or mainly motivated by the law?” Some 62 percent of registered voters said they think the case is motivated by “mainly politics” and 32 percent think it’s motivated by “mainly law.” The politics/law divide becomes much more interesting when broken down by party affiliation: Republicans (93/5), Democrats (29/66), Independents (70/26).

Up to Speed

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told ABC News on Sunday that he’s running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. “It’s still about retail politics in many of these states, and also, this is one of the most unpredictable political environments that I’ve seen in my lifetime. So my message of experience, of consistent conservatism and hope for our future in solving problems that face Americans, I think that that resonates,” Hutchinson said. He thinks Trump should drop out of the race because of the indictment—a break with several other current and would-be contenders who have defended the former president.
  • Former House Intelligence Chairman and GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan told CBS News he’s “kicking some tires” and strongly considering running for president in 2024. “No candidate, declared or not, will determine my decision to get in the race in spring or fall,” Rogers said.
  • Fueling rumors he will run for governor or U.S. Senate in 2024, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said last week he will make an “important announcement” Tuesday about his political future. That news comes as Republican Gov. Jim Justice strongly considers running for U.S. Senate in 2024, when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is up.
  • Democratic Sen. John Fetterman was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday after spending roughly six weeks of in-patient treatment for clinical depression, his office said in a statement. Following the Senate’s upcoming two week recess, Fetterman will return to the U.S. Capitol on April 17.
  • House Administration Chairman and GOP Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin told a local news outlet last week that he’s not planning to challenge Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2024.

GOP Presidential Contenders Are Giving Cover to Trump

The indictment of Donald Trump has thrown nearly every Republican presidential contender off course—except the former president himself. 

Despite the specter of a criminal trial now hanging over Trump, much has stayed the same for the Republican frontrunner. His 2024 messaging remains the same: Evil domestic forces are targeting me to punish you (or some such). His schedule largely remains the same, except for Tuesday’s scheduled detour to Manhattan for his arraignment. And the candidate continues to rake in campaign cash and lead the race for the Republican nomination. 

But some dynamics have changed. Trump is raising even more money than before. And, his lead in the nascent Republican primary has grown, according to polls conducted since late Thursday, when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, filed a sealed grand jury indictment against the 45th president. All of these developments were highlighted in a Trump campaign memorandum from senior strategists Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles Sunday evening.

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