First, the politics. Trump has been main in polls of Republican major voters regardless of months of indictments, court docket losses, and investigations that his 2024 rivals have largely joined him in condemning as politically motivated. Up to now, all the pieces seems to be taking part in out the identical.
A CBS/YouGov ballot taken partly after the indictment confirmed Trump with a commanding lead amongst Republican major voters, with 61% of the vote to second-place Ron DeSantis’ 23%. Not solely that, some 76% mentioned they have been extra disturbed by fears that “the indictment was politically motivated” than that Trump’s conduct was a “nationwide safety danger” (12%).
DeSantis, the one candidate in a position to rally any important bloc of conservatives towards Trump for the time being, complained in a speech on Friday of a “completely different normal” during which Hillary Clinton was not indicted, and mentioned he noticed “one faction of society weaponizing the facility of the state towards factions that it would not like.”
Mike Pence, who launched his marketing campaign simply final week promising to carry Trump accountable for betraying the Structure on January sixth, principally pleaded for time. He referred to as on Lawyer Common Merrick Garland to publicly justify the indictment, and “cease hiding behind the particular counsel.”
Nikki Haley condemned “prosecutorial overreach, double requirements, and vendetta politics” whereas additionally promising to “transfer past the infinite drama and distractions.” It was an attention-grabbing two-step: Sure, there could also be an unlimited partisan conspiracy to destroy the previous president, however do we actually must dwell on it?
To the extent there was any ray of sunshine for Trump’s rivals within the CBS/YouGov ballot it was that some Republican voters appeared to agree with Haley: 61% of Republicans mentioned they’d favor Trump not discuss the investigations towards him, even because the overwhelming majority took his aspect towards the costs.
If any Republicans resolve they did wish to go on the assault, they’d have some backup. The early consensus amongst authorized specialists was that the costs have been extra severe for Trump, and the proof extra direct, than nearly anybody anticipated earlier than final week.
“If even half of it’s true, then he’s toast,” Trump’s former lawyer common Invoice Barr mentioned on Fox Information, characterizing ideas that Trump is the sufferer of a witch hunt as “ridiculous.”
It was a powerful distinction from the Manhattan DA case, which lots of the similar authorized commentators — together with Barr — had dismissed as weak or overly partisan. Trump referred to as Barr a “gutless pig” on Fact Social in response.
Trump’s defenders, for now, appeared caught off guard. In some circumstances, their arguments referred to older speaking factors that the indictment had seemingly overtaken.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio informed CNN’s Dana Bash that Trump had declassified the paperwork in query, for instance, then tried to bully his well past Bash’s response that the argument “doesn’t make sense on its face” as a result of prosecutors supplied transcripts and accounts of Trump explicitly telling individuals he had not.
“Caught on tape destroying the authorized argument he has been content material to farm out to his loudest defenders for months: That’s our Trump,” wrote Jeffrey Blehar, considered one of a number of contributors for Nationwide Overview who condemned Trump after the indictment.
Two conservative commentators individually recommended Trump ought to solely have been charged if he had bought or transferred the paperwork to a shady supply or overseas energy, shifting the goalposts to a brand new stadium a number of cities away.
There have been hints of potential authorized responses for Trump. Trump lawyer Alina Habba informed Fox Information that his group would invoke the Presidential Information Act as a part of his protection. She provided no actual particulars on how, however conservative commentators together with the Wall Road Journal’s editorial board fleshed out extra of what that argument may appear to be.
“The Presidential Report Act permits a President entry to paperwork, each labeled and unclassified, as soon as he leaves workplace. It permits for good-faith negotiation with the Nationwide Archives,” the paper wrote. “But the indictment assumes that Mr. Trump had no proper to take any labeled paperwork.”
One among his until-recent attorneys, Tim Parlatore, acknowledged to CNN’s Jake Tapper the costs have been severe, and that there have been “problematic” components of the indictment he was “not conscious of” beforehand, particularly proof Trump tried to deceive his personal attorneys by ordering containers moved earlier than they may search them in response to a subpoena.
However he additionally recommended some potential defenses: Perhaps it was “bluster” and Trump didn’t have the labeled doc referred to within the smoking gun transcript; perhaps a decide would throw out testimony that he argued breached attorney-client privilege; and perhaps Trump’s group might get someplace arguing over a reported allegation of prosecutorial misconduct.
Most public defenses of Trump, nevertheless, rested on the purported unseemliness of a present administration charging a political opponent, and just about all of them invoked comparisons to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden’s labeled doc circumstances. Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. informed ABC Information’ George Stephanopoulos that he was “not justifying his conduct” however thought the costs went too far, particularly the usage of the Espionage Act. “Most Republicans imagine that the regulation now could be a political software,” he mentioned.