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Two Words That Could Mean the End for Donald Trump

That Is Easy: Criminal Charges – Donald Trump currently occupies a unique position. He’s a former president. He’s a presidential candidate. And he’s under investigation for multiple alleged crimes that could result in criminal charges.

If Donald Trump were charged in the near future, he would become the first former president ever charged with a crime. But perhaps more important, if Trump were charged in the near future, the charges could affect the GOP primary, influencing the outcome and helping to determine who the next president of the United States is.

Trump does face the very real possibility of being charged criminally. Most significantly, the Department of Justice is investigating Donald Trump in two distinct instances. First, it is investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents. Second, it is looking at Trump’s alleged involvement in attempting to deny Joe Biden’s win of the 2020 election. Each investigation has the potential to culminate in criminal charges. 

So, how would charges against Donald Trump influence the GOP primary?

Would the GOP Rally Around Trump?

For years, Trump has been claiming that Democrats are conducting a comprehensive, never-ending witch hunt. Trump has been successful in convincing many conservatives of this perspective, in part because there’s some truth to it. Democrats have long been obsessed with the idea of “getting” Trump, and it has become just about the primary objective of Democratic politics and the mainstream media. Remember Russiagate, anyone? It hasn’t been hard for Trump to convince people that such witch-hunting is occurring, because it is actually occurring.  

But at the same time, Trump has potentially committed wrongdoings. Just because attempts to “get” Trump have been happening for years, doesn’t mean that legitimate investigations into actual wrongdoings are not occurring simultaneously.

But that nuance may be lost on some Trump followers, who may be inclined to lump legitimate investigations into the witch-hunt category. If that happens, bringing charges against Trump could help inflame his base, push the GOP mainstream into a defensive posture around Trump, and ultimately engender greater support for Trump. Indeed, charges against Trump could be used as a rallying cry for conservatives who feel marginalized and persecuted.

And the charges would be used to validate the long-time premise that Trump is being witch-hunted. 

Or Would the GOP Jettison Donald Trump?

Alternatively, the GOP and its voters could find criminal charges as the impetus to finally move away from Trump. Criminal charges might be that one last push conservatives need to ditch Trump, whose stock has been falling for years, but who retains a cult-like following on the far-right and a lingering relevance within the party.

Voters have indicated they are ready to move on from Trump. Multiple polls have indicated that conservative-aligned voters do not want Trump to serve as the next GOP presidential nominee. But Trump has clung to a sizeable portion of support, mostly from MAGA-Nation, who view Trump as some sort of deity or savior. And while a majority of Republicans don’t want Trump, no other candidate has emerged to capture the majority either.

So if the GOP fails to strategize, Trump could still win the nomination with a plurality of support. Maybe criminal charges would further degrade Trump’s existing support and inspire the GOP to coordinate around one single candidate, and that person could displace Trump. 

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.