Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Guilty but unashamed, Trump says he will see Biden in November

By 37ci3 May30,2024

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is guilty but not ashamed. The question now is whether he will suffer politically for his crimes.

The first former US president to stand trial was found guilty on Thursday on all 34 issues conspired to help his 2016 campaign by covering up the alleged affair — Trump quickly rallied to raise money and votes from the conviction.

He sent a fundraising message to donors moments after the jury finished his work and vowed in the courthouse that “the real verdict will be by the people on November 5” in a rematch with President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Biden agreed.

“There is only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” the president said. In a statement sent to X along with a link to donate to his campaign. He took no victory laps, uttered no insults, and made no predictions of Trump’s political demise.

Trump also calls himself “political prisoner” in another fundraising appeal shortly after the sentencing, though not in prison.

There is simply no precedent for a convicted candidate carrying the banner of a major party into a general election. Many political pundits say it’s too early to say whether the result will add fuel to Trump’s 2024 campaign or be toxic to gullible voters.

“What nobody knows yet is what independent and swing voters will do,” said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist who has worked on multiple presidential campaigns.

Democrats who spoke to NBC News on Thursday were divided on whether Biden saw a blow from the ruling, with some seeing the real side of Trump’s problems and others more skeptical.

“It’s the result we wanted and it’s another talking point against Trump, but it doesn’t mean much in terms of actual votes,” said one Biden campaign official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide an estimate without fear of retribution.

On the other side of the political divide, Republicans followed Trump’s lead and expressed confidence that the jury’s decision would create a strong backlash in Trump’s favor.

Trump campaign and Republican National Committee political director James Blair held a conference call with GOP state party chairs shortly after the results were announced, according to two people involved in the polling.

“They have a clear message they want us to deliver,” one attendee said of Trump’s political apparatus. “This is an unfair witch hunt. We’re going to appeal and we’re going to win on appeal. We just elected the next president of the United States, guys.”

If anyone has a playbook for this moment, it’s Trump. He has drawn Republican ire over indictments in two federal and two state cases, a political resurgence that helped him win the Republican nomination for a third term this year.

Lacking evidence of any coordination between Biden and the New York prosecutors trying the case — rather than the dozens of jurors who voted unanimously to convict him on all counts — Trump again accused the president of abusing his power to hurt his opponent.

“This was done by the Biden administration to hurt, to hurt a political opponent,” Trump said at the courthouse.

His son, Donald Trump Jr., is reviving Controversial footage from Trump’s presidencyin his post on social media, he said that the United States is now a “s—hole” country.

While Biden was more reserved about the ruling on Thursday, some Democrats He said he should help the president capture voters.

“The jury’s verdict confirms that former President Donald J. Trump is an unprecedented criminal who has occupied the Oval Office and wants to do it again,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas. “Joe Biden should remind all Americans that such a person is completely unfit to be president. He is clearly a threat to democracy.”

A longtime Democratic operative said the trial was “good for Biden” because it would remind voters of the “chaos.” [Trump’s] presidency”.

To the extent that undecided voters are disaffected with Biden, the operative said, “I don’t think that helps make Trump more attractive to that group.”

Republican strategist Brad Todd said Trump risks missing a political opportunity if he leans too far into his personal animosity toward Biden.

“Alvin Bragg and 12 New Yorkers just elected Donald Trump — if he plays his cards right,” Todd said, referring to the Manhattan prosecutor whose office is handling the case. Todd needs to make sure that Trump’s answer is aimed at voters: “It’s not about him, it’s about them.”

It’s already taking the form of a campaign alleging that Trump and his Democrats are using the court system to try to deny the public their choice in an election.

“It’s outrageous,” said Brian Ballard, a Florida lobbyist who has raised money for Trump. “It’s going to help with everything, not just with small-dollar donors. The intensity, both from a fundraising standpoint and from a political energy standpoint, is going to be huge. Everything the Democrats were hoping to get out of this backfired.”

It’s unclear whether Republicans would describe any verdict — conviction, acquittal or jury — as a political defeat for Trump. And he certainly preferred to avoid the criminal label.

News that the jury had reached a verdict spread through the Trump and Biden camps moments before the verdict was returned.

Biden’s camp began sending instructions to dispatch operatives after Trump’s guilty plea, according to a person familiar with the internal discussions.

In Trump’s orbit, there were signs that a conviction would not be seen as the outright victory that some in the party claimed.

“The frequency of this decision is probably not a good sign,” one senior Trump campaign official said before the jury’s decision.

Jonathan Allen reported from Washington, D.C., and Matt Dixon reported from Tallahassee, Fla.

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