“I am an innocent man, I did nothing wrong,” Donald Trump says in the four-minute video posted on June 8 on his social media platform, Truth Social, after learning that he has been indicted in connection with the classified documents found in his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida. “And we will fight this just as we have been fighting it for seven years.”
So goes the strategy of Donald Trump, the top-ranked candidate in the Republican primary race with 49% support, far higher than his main rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Back in April, when he was first indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office over a different case, his claim to be the victim of what he considers a political witch-hunt, unleashed by the Democrats, allowed Trump to garner massive support. There was a surge of support in terms of voting intention, but also financial support for his campaign after the prosecutor Alvin Bragg announced his indictment for the Stormy Daniels case involving payment to the porn actress to silence an extramarital affair. As Trump argues in the video, he is the victim of political persecution which he intends to fight, giving his plea an emotional twist with which to hook voters.
In his appeal, he moves between playing the victim and capitalizing on the judicial offensive against him. Analysts are still uncertain whether the momentum of his judicial setbacks will be maintained throughout the race for the White House. There are many who believe that Trump’s victim stance and his knee-jerk emotional reaction will tail off as the very crowded Republican primaries progress, though most observers also believe that the more candidates there are, the better for Trump, who will inevitably stand out from the crowd with his unmistakable brand.
On June 8, Trump trotted out the same script, accompanied by the ka-ching of his campaign cash register. He raised more than $4 million in the first 24 hours after the New York grand jury’s decision to charge him with 34 counts in the Stormy Daniels case at the end of March, and $3 million more in the following days. On June 8 Trump directly addressed potential donors.
“We are watching our Republic DIE before our very eyes,” the email states. “The Biden-appointed Special Counsel has INDICTED me in yet another witch hunt regarding documents that I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States. Please make a contribution to peacefully stand with me today and prove that YOU will NEVER surrender our country to the radical Left – for 1,500% impact,” the note concludes, suggesting contributions of between $24 and $250. In April, of the initial $4 million raised, 25% came from new donors.
Trump is an expert at turning charges against him to his advantage. Any other politician in such deep trouble might be tempted to throw in the towel. But the former president thrives on adverse conditions. Not even a conviction for sexual abuse and defamation for which he was sentenced in May with $5 million to pay in damages to his victim, the writer E Jane Carroll, has daunted him.
Trump has emerged unscathed from the Stormy Daniels and Carroll cases, but will the Mar-a-Lago papers bring about the first federal indictment of a sitting president? If sexual scandals have failed to dent his popularity even among the most puritanical Republicans, it seems unlikely that these papers will be any different. He is up against the Department of Justice and Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by President Biden to oversee all the cases opened against him. But his enemies have names and surnames, and all of them are Democrats.
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