Trump Indictment Makes Him a ‘Martyr’ but Doesn’t Assure Him of 2024 Win: Strategists

Trump Indictment Makes Him a ‘Martyr’ but Doesn’t Assure Him of 2024 Win: Strategists
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
Mark Tapscott
News Analysis

Former President Donald Trump raised more than $8 million in the four days after it was announced that a grand jury had indicted him at the prompting of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on multiple charges made public on April 4 in a New York City courtroom.

During the same period, according to the Trafalgar Group, Trump stretched his lead among Republicans in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination over his nearest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to 33 from 14 points.

Trump’s fundraising haul and impressive surge in the polls bolstered the apparent conventional political wisdom about the likely political impact of the Bragg indictment, as expressed during a Fox News interview on the court date with Karl Rove, who was chief political strategist and deputy White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush.

“This has helped him clearly in the race for the [2024] Republican presidential nomination, all the polls show so. He’s demonstrated the ability to turn this into a massive fundraising effort. I’ve received 11 emails from the Trump campaign in the last 24 hours,” Rove said.

“It is not helpful for the long term, however. If you look inside the ABC-Ipsos Poll, 16 percent of Republicans thought he should have been indicted. That’s one out of every six Republicans. And how many independents who did not vote for him last time around are going to be excited by this issue, even if it’s resolved in his favor, since it involves hush-money payments to a porn star?”


But interviews by The Epoch Times of political strategists and elected officials in both major political parties following the indictment’s unsealing suggest the conventional wisdom may prove only half right.
Cristina Antelo, a senior Democratic strategist, and Brian Darling, a senior Republican strategist, both told The Epoch Times they see Trump benefitting both short and long term.

“I think this helps his narrative all around. He’s the victim. And now he’ll be the martyr,” Antelo said.

Darling said: “I think this case is a tempest in a teapot. Big deal today, but a story that will quickly become a boring battle of legal briefs. The other Trump cases may impact the election, but not this case.”

Christy Setzer, another Democratic strategist, questioned whether Trump will actually benefit in either the short or long term.

“I’m not even sure it helps him politically in the short-term—at least not among all voters. Sure, it fires up some GOP primary voters on his behalf, but no one that wasn’t already with him. And he loses support from those who weren’t already in his circle: regular people don’t want a 34-time-criminal as president,” Setzer observed.

David Molina, another Democratic strategist, said it’s too early to see how the indictment of Trump will affect the former chief executive’s political prospects. “I think there needs to be more discussion among voters,” Molina told The Epoch Times.

Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) said: “Common sense tells us that Donald Trump has announced for president in 2024 and this indictment would not be happening if he wasn’t running. Donald Trump is a fighter and he is going to come out swinging. He’s a fighter, he'll go the distance. This guy has shown he’s got energy.”

Brecheen, one of the 20 House members who secured a host of conservative reforms in how the lower chamber of Congress functions during January’s heated speaker of the House contest, added that he believes “the American people are tired of seeing this for his family’s sake, this constant bombardment against Trump.”

Turning Point

Whether the indictment ultimately proves beneficial or damaging to Trump’s prospects for winning a second term in the Oval Office in 2024, it’s clear that both sides of the indictment debate view the case as representing a profoundly serious turning point for the country.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote on Twitter shortly after Trump’s arraignment: “Alvin Bragg is attempting to interfere in our democratic process by invoking federal law to bring politicized charges against President Trump, admittedly using federal funds, while at the same time arguing that the peoples’ representatives in Congress lack jurisdiction to investigate this farce. Not so. Bragg’s weaponization of the federal justice process will be held accountable by Congress.”

McCarthy was referring to a joint demand delivered to Bragg from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.). The House panel chairmen want documents related to Bragg’s Trump investigation and are expected to issue a subpoena if the Manhattan district attorney continues to refuse to cooperate.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) denounced Bragg’s action in a series of tweets.

“The American people see this for what it is—political prosecution,“ she wrote. “Soros-backed DA Alvin Bragg is allowing violent criminals to run free in his city while weaponizing the legal system in an attempt to take down a former President. Make no mistake: if the former President’s name were anything but ‘Trump,’ he would not be facing these charges.”

Similarly, for House Republicans such as Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), the Trump indictment is the latest chapter in the weaponization of federal regulatory and law enforcement powers against anti-establishment voices across the political spectrum.

“Overall the indictment of President Trump by the socialist Democrat Party should be a Wake-up Call to all Americans!! The total weaponization of every branch of government is on Full Display!! Time to fight for our Freedom before it’s too late,” Norman told The Epoch Times in a text message.

Similarly, according to Weber: “Bragg campaigned for office on a promise to ‘get Trump,’ and he will do anything in his corrupt power to deliver to the same base that has been after President Trump from day one. It’s pitiful and politically motivated. Americans should wake up and realize that this is another attempt from the radical left to weaponize our justice system—Trump supporter or not. This has no place in America.”

Democrats Respond

Democratic strategist Max Burns, however, sees peril in Trump’s situation, but mostly for the Republican Party, telling The Epoch Times that he “would be deeply worried about a country where a 34-count felony criminal indictment makes someone more likely to become president. Trump’s legal woes are now something every Republican will be expected to answer for, at their own peril.”

As they have since Trump’s indictment first appeared on the national political debate, congressional Democrats continue to insist that the Trump prosecution isn’t weaponization but instead demonstrates that nobody in the United States is above the law.

“Today’s arrest shows that nobody is above the law, even if you recently held the highest office in the land. No matter who you are, the power you hold, or the size of your bank account, it demonstrates that people will be held accountable for their actions. This case must now work its way through our justice system and do so in a fair manner without any interference. The former President, like everybody else in our country, is entitled to due process,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, complimented Bragg’s work, saying: “On its face, this indictment seems methodical and well-reasoned. Mr. Trump will, of course, have every opportunity to defend himself in court, like every other defendant in the New York judicial system.”
And Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) declared in a tweet that “Republicans want you to believe our legal system is targeting Trump. But at every step of this process, we’re reminded that the rich and powerful are treated better than the Black & brown communities who are actually targeted by the criminal legal system.”

Similarly divergent views were heard in the advocacy community.

Mike Davis, founder of Article III Project and Sen. Chuck Grassley’s former chief counsel for nominations, told The Epoch Times that “today’s arraignment confirms Soros-funded Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, after hiring senior Biden Justice Department political appointee Matthew Colangelo, crossed the Rubicon by indicting President Biden’s political enemy based upon a bogus legal theory previously rejected by the Manhattan DA, Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Federal Election Commission, and Bragg himself.”
Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, noted that “our view generally is that Presidents and former Presidents should be capable of being indicted by a grand jury and that no one is above the law.”
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning senior Congressional correspondent for The Epoch Times. He covers Congress, national politics, and policy. Mr. Tapscott previously worked for Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Montgomery Journal, and Daily Caller News Foundation.
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