Donald Trump’s indictment ties Republicans closer to him than ever

Profile view of Donald J Trump, presidential candidate, at the Boca Raton, FL Rally on March 13th, 2016
Donald Trump at a Boca Raton, FL, rally on March 13th, 2016. Photo: Shutterstock

Donald Trump’s indictment yesterday was a long time in the making – like 50 years in the making. Trump’s past is littered with a steady stream of legally questionable activities. They began, appropriately enough given his thinly veiled racist campaign rhetoric, with accusations that he and his father broke the law by refusing to rent to Black people and continued right through his frantic efforts to perpetrate voter fraud so he could stay in office.

That Trump was indicted for hush payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels is fitting. It’s the perfect combination of Trump’s vulgarity with his use of money to deny it.

And now Republicans are in the unenviable position of having to serve as Trump’s defense attorneys.

As much as a certain segment of the GOP keeps wanting to move on from Trump, the party knows it can’t look as if that’s what it’s doing. A full third of the party’s base are hard-core Trump supporters. Indeed, they are more committed to Trump than they are to the party.

So Republicans who want nothing more than for Trump to vanish are forced to portray Trump as a martyr to liberalism run amok. Even his would-be opponents for the presidential nomination are having to offer their support, building up Trump in the process. Mike Pence called the indictment a “political prosecution,” Ron DeSantis promised to fight any extradition request, and Nikki Haley dismissed the charge as political “revenge.”

In short, they did exactly what Trump would most want: they turned the spotlight on him and served as his surrogates.

From Trump’s warped perspective, the indictment is a kind of blessing. He can use it to whip up anger and, more importantly for Trump, whip up donations. Within 20 minutes of his indictment, Trump sent an email fundraising off his indictment.

That’s the benefit in the short run. In the long run, the indictment is just the prologue to a series of legal problems is facing.

Right now, some in the media have already decided that the indictment is somehow beneath Trump, that under any other circumstance most prosecutors wouldn’t have bothered to pursue the case. And it is true that the argument for the case is complicated and open for debate. But it’s not like former presidents should get held to a different standard than anyone else.

But Trump is also facing indictments for much more serious matters, including election tampering in Georgia, taking and refusing to turn over classified documents, and inciting the January 6 insurrection. Sure, paying hush money to a porn star seems like small potatoes by comparison, but the steady drip, drip, drip of legal troubles is likely to become an undifferentiated pool of suspicious behavior in the minds of voters.

Meanwhile, the Republican party is saddled more than ever with Trump. The party’s chosen savior, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), is showing all the luster that another supposed shoo-in did: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Without having even announced his presidential campaign, DeSantis has performed so poorly that donors are already having buyer’s remorse.

Instead of turning away from Trump, Republicans must now rush to his defense. Instead of being sidelined in 2024, Trump shows every sign of being the strong favorite to win the presidential nomination. Instead of trying to forget about the January 6 insurrection, Republicans must now lean into it, because of the legal jeopardy that is associated with Trump.

Trump has managed to singlehandedly lose the past two election cycles for Republicans. In 2020, he not only failed to win re-election but also managed to flip the Senate to Democrats, thanks to his shenanigans in Georgia. Last year, his endorsement of fringe and cringe candidates led to the Democrats actually gaining a seat in the Senate, in a year when they should have lost several.

If Republicans think that three’s a charm, they have another thing coming. Only in the bubble of MAGA World does being indicted win you votes, let alone the possibility of multiple indictments.

For now, all the GOP can do is flak for Trump. The drawbacks of that approach will be pretty obvious come November of next year.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Former president Donald Trump indicted by Manhattan grand jury

Previous article

Joe Biden issues Trans Day of Visibility proclamation

Next article