“They are using their power to destroy their number one political enemy. They are trying to destroy him,” said Matt Schlapp, a Trump world confidante and chairman of the American Conservative Union who warned prominent politicians of an era of overly political law enforcement : “And will there be a reverberation from it that will absolutely benefit Trump?”
The latest sign of Trump’s growing legal troubles came this week when reports broke that a special grand jury had met in Manhattan to decide whether to be the former president or the Trump organization’s officers over business and tax practices and their management Should be charged or not international real estate portfolio. Privately, Trump and his loved ones admitted they are nervous that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has reached the climax of his investigation. But publicly, they expect the former president to use his legal plight to get support from his supporter base – and to chat about a run in 2024.
“It’s the same kind of shit playbook – backlash, guilt, attacking investigators, saying, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m a businessman,’ you will hear that a lot,” said a former advisor.
In a statement following the Grand Jury’s news, Trump immediately proclaimed the investigation a “witch hunt,” accusing it of political motivation and attempting to link the grand jury’s news to his plans to resume the rallies and publish a poll shows Republican support for another presidential campaign. Even to non-MAGA Republicans, it seemed predictable, cynical, and probably effective.
“Trump made sacrifice an art form and there is no doubt that he would use an indictment as fuel to support the rally,” said Brendan Buck, former aide to then Speaker of Parliament Paul Ryan. “He has convinced his followers that the only crime he has ever committed is fighting for them on behalf of the elites, and if people believe that, you are basically bulletproof.”
Trump and his allies anticipate the very real possibility that he or his business associates could be charged. And one of the main reasons Trump is scared is because Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, who knew the pros and cons of the company’s ledger books, has emerged, and was reportedly, a central figure for New York prosecutors pressured to turn against his boss.
However, aside from significant new insights, people close to Trump do not expect the investigation to have a negative impact on his immediate political future. Trump has told friends and aides that he has serious plans to run again in 2024, and his team suspect the legal drama may actually help him with Republican voters.
“At this point in the year-long witch hunt, Republican voters are deaf to the ongoing partisan attacks,” said a person close to Trump. “If anything, these legal attacks help solidify the president’s political base.”
Allies of Trump have turned their anger specifically on Letitia James. The New York attorney general campaigned for a promise to investigate Trump, whom she described as an “illegitimate president”. And both Trump and his allies have attacked them, accusing them of abusing their office by pre-setting investigative topics.
“The Attorney General of New York literally stood up for the prosecution of Donald Trump even before she knew anything about me,” Trump said in one of his lengthy statements to the White House. “That’s what this investigation is about – the continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in United States history. Working with Washington, these Democrats want to silence and cancel millions of voters because they don’t want “Trump” to run again. “
People close to Trump say his recent deliberations on running in 2024 began before the grand jury news. While Trump remains a powerful figure in the party, he misses the trappings and power of the White House, they say, especially after a sleepier spring among fellow retirees in Palm Beach, Florida.
“When he came down the escalator, the left followed him from the Russian impeachment joke, now we’re still seeing it in New York City,” former chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News Run, and I think he will run. “
In the run-up to the 2020 elections, Trump used a similar argument to reject the legal and political investigations against him at the time. He condemned the special envoy Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections and his subsequent first impeachment as a witch hunt and overreach of the partisan congress. He called on lawmakers to “investigate” and claimed he was the subject of a “Russia hoax”.
He also talked about the legal benefits he believed came with the appointment of an office; that he was largely vaccinated by law enforcement and prosecution while he was serving. That could very well force him to seek office again, although advisors say that is not his current opinion and legal experts argue that he cannot avoid state investigation by running for federal office. Instead, those who have closely followed Trump’s career believe that he will use his current dilemma to instill sympathy and anger among his legion of supporters.
“One of the things that will undoubtedly frustrate him about the two criminal investigations is that he has very little direct influence. He has retired from New York, is a Florida resident, widely loathed in New York City and has no support by the population, and he has no political or legal leverage to disrupt this investigation as he disrupted Mueller. Said Tim O’Brien, Trump biographer and critic of the former president Case Mueller did is that he went straight to his followers and the public and said this was a witch hunt. “
“He recognizes that his greatest attraction lies with his ardent followers and I think he will go to them as a force to be reckoned with when someone tries to whip him.”
With reporting by Sam Stein