Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Trump on trial tests his political wherewithal — and American resolve

By 37ci3 Apr14,2024



Throughout its 248-year history, America has seen dramatic, high-profile courtroom battles that have tested the law and torn apart its social fabric: from the Haymarket Square riot case and the Scopes Monkey Trial to the Hall of Fame NFL’s botched prosecution. OJ Simpson in a gruesome double murder.

But the country has never seen anything quite like the made-for-screen trial that begins Monday in New York: a former president, also the current Republican presidential nominee, faces a jury in a criminal trial. poised to capture the nation and inflame political rhetoric in an already sharply divided country. Donald Trump, a master of public relations, describes himself as a political prisoner. New York State claims he is a habitual criminal who uses his stature to make a mockery of justice.

This otherworldly canvas promises to be filled with the mundane details of a wealthy businessman paying a porn star to keep quiet about an affair he claims to be having. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says Trump broke the law by falsifying business records as part of a scheme to hide payments to Stormy Daniels. Trump maintains that he did not sleep with Daniels and that his former fixer, Michael Cohen, did not break the law when he bought her silence.

There is a view among many of Trump’s allies and critics, as well as many lawyers, that the charges in New York are less public interest than the charges in the federal cases related to his efforts and possession of classified material. A pending Georgia lawsuit based on his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, as well as alter the results of that state in the same election.

Still, two-thirds of registered voters say hush money charges are “somewhat serious” or “very serious.” Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted from April 4 to April 8.

The loudest voices across the political spectrum are raising the bar on competing arguments: that he is unfairly targeted for his political views and that his status as a candidate unfairly shields him from criminal charges.

But at the same time, some in the political arena view the impending circus as a painful episode in American history.

“It’s a sad moment,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., who lives about 20 miles south of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate along the Atlantic coast.

“I don’t think any American should be prepared for the fact that our former president is going to be tried and run for president with over 90 indictments at the same time,” Moskowitz said. “Obviously, he is innocent until proven guilty. He deserves a fair trial. What if he is found guilty and still runs for president?”

Nothing in the constitution prevents a criminal from being elected president. But during the GOP primaries this year, some Republicans worried that a conviction could be devastating to their chances of winning a general election rematch with President Joe Biden.

A January NBC News survey It gave Trump a 5-point national lead over Biden, 47% to 42%. But when respondents were asked what they would do if Trump were convicted of a crime before the Nov. 5 election, their positions changed. In this scenario, Biden led Trump 45% to 43%.

in March, a Politico/ Ipsos the poll found that accusations of silence would do “real damage” to Trump. A third of independents said they would be less likely to vote for Trump after a possible conviction, the news outlet said.

Trump allies say there is an advantage to having Bragg tried by special counsel Jack Smith, who won charges against Trump on classified documents and election meddling charges.

“I love that Alvin Bragg went first,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who has spoken regularly with Trump about the state of his campaign.

“His case is virtually the most frivolous and legal form of torture,” Gaetz said of Bragg. “The fact pattern to be alleged in the Bragg case is one of frivolity, whereas in the Jack Smith case there will be an attempt to be more serious.”

They are also optimistic that the court itself could sway public opinion more in Trump’s favor.

“It’s fitting that President Trump’s trial begins after the death of OJ Simpson,” said Republican media strategist Giancarlo Sopo, who is leading Trump’s 2020 Hispanic campaign. “The media circus around his legal troubles is similar, with one major difference: The more people heard about the Simpson case, the more they thought he was guilty. With Trump, the opposite is true.”

There is no doubt that Trump’s legal troubles have drawn Republicans to his side during the primaries. His comeback from political danger began in earnest when Bragg first charged him last year. But his audience at the time was primarily the hardline GOP voters who dominated the party’s primaries. Democrats also tried to make the New York case less about an alleged affair with a porn star and more about election meddling — setting a precedent by arguing that Trump broke the law to win the 2016 election.

Trump must now hope both to avoid a guilty verdict and to turn his prosecution into an unrivaled voting machine for sympathy votes from the mainstream or beyond, regardless of the jury’s verdict.

His continued efforts to delay all trials show that he fears winning will be more difficult if he has the word “criminal” tattooed on his brand. If he loses the election and doesn’t have the power to stop federal prosecutions, those two cases mean an extension of time for a defeated political candidate to be prosecuted by the Justice Department for his beater.

“What happens after we lose the election and these lawsuits continue?” Moskowitz said. “Not a great moment for the country.”



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