Trump May Avoid Legal Repercussions By Skipping A Debate, But Not The Others
Donald Trump won’t participate in the upcoming Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night because he won’t face consequences.
No other Republican front-runner could so ignore his party’s second on-stage debate with such disdain and instead do his own thing, in this instance deliver a speech about the Detroit autoworkers’ strike as he ramps up a general election campaign months before the first primary ballots are cast.
While getting away with something is the ex-president’s trademark political tactic, his capacity for doing so is being severely tested in the legal system. In a civil lawsuit, a New York court on Tuesday found that the former president and his adult sons were guilty of fraud, underscoring the rising threat that Trump faces from his barrage of legal troubles. The verdict comes before the ex-president’s four criminal trials in other cases, which poses a serious danger to the survival of the Trump Organization.
While Trump cannot influence his legal outcome, he still has power over his political future. As he pursues a second White House term that would put greater strain on the constitutional system of government than the first, he has shattered the laws of politics. Trump has frequently reimagined the Republican Party, how it chooses its presidents, and the expectations of presidential behavior. He has minimized the political repercussions of several indictments stemming from his attacks on democracy and other alleged infractions by painting them as evidence of a militarized judicial and governmental apparatus. His political character has the potential to intimidate GOP opponents and foster a cult of personality that renders him immune to attacks from his own party. Millions of his fans now believe he is a victim of voting fraud after years of his mocking the legitimacy of US elections.
Trump’s decision to skip the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is dedicated to the previous president whose spirit haunted his party for years before being driven out by Trump’s populist nationalism, carries very little risk. Since the first GOP debate, which took place in Wisconsin last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign has become worse, while Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, has gained some attention and ground. But now that a crucial month of campaigning has passed, there is no indication that any contender will pose a serious threat to Trump and his commanding lead in the primary polls.
It would be a great shock if one of his competitors used the debate, which is really a battle for second place, to level the type of scathing criticism of Trump that would damage his reputation among GOP voters. Only contenders who hardly register in most polls, like the former governors of New Jersey and Arkansas who didn’t satisfy the RNC’s requirements to participate in this debate, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, have strongly criticized Trump. Candidates like DeSantis and Haley have attacked Trump on topics like abortion or tepidly on his electability, but they haven’t taken the risk of going after the former president’s escalating radicalism directly. Former vice president Mike Pence, who Trump’s supporters wanted to hang on January 6, 2021, has been increasingly critical, earning him a sinking campaign in return.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday, timed to the publication of her new book, Cassidy Hutchinson, an assistant to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who has displayed more bravery in exposing Trump’s wrongdoing on January 6 than most of the rest of the GOP, praised his influence on his party. In her condemnation of anyone who would not vehemently denounce Trump’s behavior, she highlighted Republicans who will be on the debate stage on Wednesday night. Hutchinson said to Tapper, “Donald Trump has such a hold on these individuals, and sometimes, I can’t put my finger on why.
Why do these individuals find it so simple to support him and to declare that what he is doing is acceptable? In that instant, they are admitting that they are fine with launching a war against our Constitution, Hutchinson continued. These are not Republican or American values, but these are the kinds of people we will be considering in 2024.
Trump’s continued behavior will only become worse
As Trump has re-entered the political spotlight in recent days, his cloak of political impunity has been on full display.
- Any other former president who advocated the death of outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, as Trump did on social media this weekend, would be viewed as a national outcast. Despite Trump’s daily barrage of fury, the most recent manifestation of his bile has mostly gone unreported.
- Most candidates would have been eliminated by Trump’s recent promise to use the Justice Department to pursue his political rivals if he were to retake the White House. However, it scarcely elicited a whisper among Trump’s GOP opponents. When the former president threatened to use his office’s authority to look into MSNBC for treason, there was silence instead.
- Trump hardly ever goes a day without claiming falsely to have won the 2020 election. Before him, it was unimaginable that a president would want to end the succession of peaceful transfers of power. But now there’s a chance he may take the general election after that.
A rare protest against Trump’s impunity
The former president’s ability to escape the repercussions of his deeds is currently up against its biggest obstacle. For example, a judge in New York determined on Tuesday that Donald Trump and his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., had submitted fake financial statements for around ten years. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a federal court is deliberating whether to grant special counsel Jack Smith’s request for the former president to be subject to a partial gag order after the prosecution accused him of attempting to taint the jury pool and intimidate witnesses.
These courtroom dramas are a prelude to the four trials that the former president, who denies all wrongdoing, is enduring on 91 criminal charges. These charges relate to his alleged attempt to rig the 2020 election, his alleged handling of classified documents he hoarded at Mar-a-Lago, and his payment of hush money to an adult film actress prior to the 2016 election. Most politicians have been forced from office by the mere hint of criminal charges, however Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is fending off several requests for his resignation ahead of his Wednesday court appearance on bribery accusations.
But even the prospect that Donald Trump, who has already been impeached twice, may be found guilty of a crime before the election in November 2024 doesn’t harm his standing among Republican supporters. In fact, the exact reverse is true.
Why then does Trump continue to get away with it?
Trump is invincible in part because the Republican Party seldom ever holds him accountable for his actions. Top officials are affected by Trump’s enormous popularity among his storied base of supporters, and they frequently must decide between supporting Trump and preserving their jobs. GOP leaders who defy him, such current Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, are either forced from Congress or conclude it is no longer worthwhile to seek public service.
Trump’s followers who humor and mimic him are drawn to his strongman leadership style. Republican zealots like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida are current examples. GOP officials are hesitant to oppose the ex-president due to his political clout among the party’s grassroots. In the wake of Trump’s mob’s attack on the Capitol on January 6, for example, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy claimed that the former president was to blame for the disturbance. But McCarthy came to Florida to mend fences with Trump, who helped him win the speakership in January but is now torturing him by encouraging House conservatives to shut down the government, days after his patron departed the White House in disgrace.
Numerous politicians and bureaucrats have joined Trump’s inner circle as a result of his personal charisma, despite the fact that many of them have paid a price by being indicted for their roles in his election interfering schemes and having their reputations ruined. Meadows and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani come to mind.
The former president has also been successful in claiming that if he gave up, a shadowy administration would target his supporters. “If they can do this to me, then they can do it to YOU!” In a social media tweet on Tuesday, Trump criticized the verdict rendered against him in the New York fraud case. This justification has proven to be so persuasive that the former president’s fundraising and polling frequently appeared to speak after his several arrests.
The people who first viewed Trump as an embodiment of their animosity at the political, financial, media, and legal systems that they believed neglected or despised them have given him an unassailable political base. Smartly acting like an upstart within his own government, Trump frequently attacked the institutions that his supporters disapproved of. As a result, his supporters accepted all of his following bizarre actions and saw him as a victim of systematic political persecution.