By Robert Reich
A grand jury officially indicted Donald Trump on four felony counts related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
These are the most serious charges against Trump yet, but the reality is that these charges will only boost Trump in the Republican primary.
Before the indictment from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg charging Trump with falsifying business records in New York came down on April 4, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans stood at 44 percent on average of national polls.
Then came the first Justice Department indictment on June 9, charging Trump with violating the Espionage Act and obstructing justice. Trump’s approval rating rose to 49 percent.
By the time a federal judge clarified that Trump had “raped” writer E. Jean Carroll, on July 18, Trump’s approval had risen to 54 percent in the RealClear Politics national polling average — a 10-point climb during the spring and summer.
So today’s long-expected Justice Department indictment of Trump for trying to overthrow the last election is likely to boost his favorable rating into the polling stratosphere as far as the Republican nomination is concerned.
Each indictment and civil verdict against Trump provides even more ammunition for Trump in his campaign against the so-called “deep state.” Each further entrenches his campaign in a singular narrative centering on him — placing him at the center of a national conspiracy.
This dynamic makes it almost impossible for any of his rivals to criticize him. DeSantis and most of Trump’s opponents have embraced the Trump-stoked view that nearly any effort by a Democratic administration to pursue justice against Trump is de facto illegitimate. Siding with Jack Smith against Trump has become a litmus test that is little different from choosing the wrong side on abortion.
Trump campaign’s current strategy is to attack rivals (mostly Ron DeSantis) for any hint they might be siding with prosecutors over Trump.
But each indictment and civil verdict also provides the rest of America with further confirmation of how dangerous and loathsome Donald Trump really is, and how much the Republican Party has rejected the rule of law.
This dynamic may cause a death spiral for the current Republican Party.
This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack account.