Good morning! It’s Monday, April 3, 2023. The 2024 elections are 582 days away.
Buckle up for a historic week in American politics. Donald Trump, the first former U.S. president to be indicted, will be arraigned in New York on Tuesday. Keep scrolling for the all latest news you should know.
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Trump prepares for arraignment, convinced legal woes will help him
For his entire career, Donald Trump has been guided by the creed taught to him by his mentor Roy Cohn, himself thrice-indicted: “All publicity is good publicity.” It appears he does not believe there is an exception for being criminally charged.
Although Trump is reportedly “upset” and “irritated” about the indictment, he also spies a political upside. According to The New York Times, his team has been “working on what it calls ‘maximizing the bump’ from the indictment, preparing for a fund-raising blitz” and using the news to consolidate GOP support behind him. Per Politico, he is excited about the media frenzy that is sure to accompany Tuesday’s arraignment, with one aide calling it “O.J. Simpson on steroids.”
One element he is especially fixated on, The Guardian reports: a mugshot. The former president has even “asked whether his team could print it on T-shirts that could serve as a rallying motif for his supporters – an idea that his advisers have been particularly enthusiastic about.”
There is some evidence to support Trump’s belief that an indictment will boost his presidential campaign: he raised $5 million in the 48 hours after news of the indictment broke, and the first post-indictment poll showed his GOP primary lead expanding.
The poll, by Yahoo News and YouGov, showed Trump leading 57%-31% in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup with Ron DeSantis; the same outlets’ previous poll had Trump much more narrowly besting DeSantis, 47%-39%.
As for the general election, the poll found the indictment made no dent on Trump’s support one way or the other: President Biden leads Trump 45%-43% in the new poll, the exact same levels of support the two men boasted in the previous Yahoo/YouGov survey.
More news and notes about Trump’s legal troubles:
Timeline. Trump will fly to New York City today and spend the night at Trump Tower. He will turn himself in to authorities tomorrow, with an arraignment scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at the New York Supreme Court. Trump will then return to Mar-a-Lago, where he is set to give a speech at 8:15 p.m. tomorrow night.
NYC prepares. Per Axios, “steel barricades have already gone up near both Trump Tower and the courthouse as security officials prepare for possible protests” in response to the indictment.
However, the Times reports, law enforcement officials have “not yet seen indications of a disruptive, organized backlash” akin to the online chatter before January 6th. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is planning to headline a rally in New York tomorrow, although the event announcement makes sure to call it a “peaceful protest.”
Trump’s rhetoric. In keeping with another longtime legal strategy he learned from Cohn — “attack, attack, attack” — Trump has already started lashing out at Juan Merchan, the judge who will oversee his case. The former president declared Friday that Merchan “HATES ME,” noting that the judge also presided over the recent tax fraud case against the Trump Organization, which resulted in a conviction.
Trump’s lawyers, apparently worried that the judge could impose a gag order preventing Trump from speaking about the case, have tried to dial his rhetoric down. Joe Tacopina, the ex-president’s main attorney in the New York case, told ABC News on Sunday that he has “no reason to believe this judge is biased.”
A new opponent. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson entered the 2024 Republican presidential primary on Sunday, becoming the fourth candidate in the field — after Trump, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy.
Hutchinson is the most outspoken Trump critic to launch a campaign: he has said the former president should withdraw from the race after being indicted. He generally receives somewhere between 0 and 1% support in the polls.
Silence, speaking out. Most of the Republican Party’s leadership has rushed to Trump’s defense, and even some Trump-critical lawmakers have raised concerns about the indictment brought by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.
“No one’s above the law,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Sunday on Fox News. “But no one should be targeted by the law.” Later on the same program, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) — who voted to convict Trump in his 2021 impeachment trial — also expressed worry that Trump was being politically targeted.
Meanwhile, two pols who very notably have yet to comment on the indictment: Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell.
Other investigations. Trump may only face one indictment — right now — but he is currently ensnared in at least eight other lawsuits and investigations. One of the most serious of those is the Justice Department probe into his handling of classified documents, led by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
According to the Washington Post, Smith’s team has accumulated evidence of Trump obstructing the investigation, which is a federal crime. Investigators reportedly have evidence that Trump “told others to mislead government officials” conducting the probe and “asked advisers and lawyers to release false statements claiming he had returned all [government] documents” when he had not.
Trump also reportedly “looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home,” after receiving a Justice Department subpoena to return them, “apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession.”
Around the world. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a rare call with his Russian counterpart on Sunday to demand the release of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been imprisoned in Russia.
- Related: “Evan Gershkovich Loved Russia, the Country That Turned on Him” (WSJ)
Three’s a crowd. Democratic and Republican strategists are growing worried about a $70 million effort by the centrist group No Labels to get presidential ballot lines in all 50 states next year and potentially run a third-party candidate.
- Related: Joe Manchin refused to rule out running for president on a No Labels third-party ticket in a CNN interview on Sunday.
Where’s Biden? You may notice there’s a name missing from the rising chatter about the 2024 presidential race: the incumbent president, Joe Biden. Per Axios, Biden — famously slow to launch his presidential bids — is now considering waiting until July to announce his re-election campaign.
President Biden will travel to Fridley, Minnesota as part of his “Investing in America” tour. While there, he will tour an alternative power manufacturer and deliver remarks on his economic agenda.
First Lady Biden will hold events in Denver, Colorado and Bay County, Michigan, to highlight community college workforce training programs, also as part of the “Investing in America” tour.
Vice President Harris has nothing on her public schedule.
The House and Senate are off until April 17.
The Supreme Court will release orders.
Thanks for reading.
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