Donald Trump Has Two Considerable Problems He Has to Face Now: Ron DeSantis and Countless Legal Challenges:
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with his war chest of $100 million (and counting), has officially entered the 2024 Republican Party Presidential Primary.
Even before the governor made his announcement on Twitter (which crashed multiple times because were so interested in experiencing the novel way that DeSantis made his announcement), the Trump Campaign was mocking and belittling the governor—a man that Trump had twice endorsed and who has since claimed responsibility for DeSantis’ astounding success.
The Trump Campaign is mocking and belittling DeSantis’ slow-and-steady campaign even as Trump’s lawyers plead with the Department of Justice to allow for a meeting between themselves and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Donald Trump In Trouble
You see, not only is the Trump Campaign fearful of a well-funded, popular primary rival, but they are also concerned about the string of indictments that the forty-fifth president is facing.
Specifically, the Trump team worries about the ongoing grand jury investigation in Washington, D.C., about Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.
This is the case that even Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, told the press that Trump should be most worried about. Because it can be proven that Trump did, in fact, mishandle classified documents and that Trump ignored repeated—written—warnings from the National Archives and Records Agency (NARA) that he had to follow a particular declassification process before leaving the White House with hundreds of classified materials.
Should Trump be indicted, the charges will be that he violated the Espionage Act and, later, obstructed justice.
Anyone who remembers the impeachment of former President Richard M. Nixon, should recall the significance of that last charge. That’s the one that tends to get people. That charge is the one that can bring presidencies down.
And that is why the Trump lawyers are panicking.
In fact, Trump’s woes in this case have gotten so bad that there is now vicious infighting between members of the Trump legal team. One of Trump’s lawyers, Tim Parlatore, even quit the team in frustration last week.
He claims that another one of Trump attorneys, a former adviser to Trump from his time in the White House, Boris Epshteyn, interfered with the Trump legal team’s ability to properly defend the forty-fifth president.
The Trump legal team says that Parlatore’s claims are “categorically false.”
Meanwhile, whatever false starts the DeSantis Campaign has experienced, the Florida governor has no investigations—criminal or civil—directed against him (and believe me, the Left would love to gum up DeSantis’ campaign the way they’ve been able to do to Trump’s).
A well-known Trump surrogate, speaking for the Trump Campaign on a popular podcast, argued that Governor DeSantis’ mild dig at Trump for his alleged hush money payments to a pornographic actress, Stormy Daniels, displayed a “lack of honor”; a deep character flaw.
Yet, DeSantis’ point on the Stormy Daniels case and all the other cases arrayed against Trump this year alone, makes an important point.
We can claim that everything Trump is facing is “Fake News”. And, certainly, there are cases against Trump that are clearly politically charged. At the same time, though, Trump made himself susceptible to these investigations with his behavior.
Trump’s behavior is an extension of his character. In fact, many of the same Trump surrogates belittling Ron DeSantis, a devoted husband and father—a veteran, no less—were the ones insisting in 2016 that character doesn’t matter in presidential candidates. They just wanted to win. Trump hasn’t won anything since 2016.
This is a major problem for the Republican Party, which is hitched to Trump’s political wagon to nowhere right now.
Maybe DeSantis ends up flaming out, like former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did in 2016. Perhaps he gets trounced by Trump in the 2024 GOP Primary, as both JEB! Bush and Ted Cruz did in 2016. But that’s no guarantee that Trump will be either able to overcome the string of major investigations into his past behavior or that he can win the General Election.
Make no mistake: Donald Trump is scared right now.
That’s why his lawyers are demanding a face-to-face meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland. The grand jury investigating the Trump classified document scandal is set to issue an indictment on Trump—his second this year. The Trump legal team is desperate to get a grip on the facts of the case, which are kept secret due to the nature of the grand jury, because this case seems to be so much in Trump’s disfavor.
Republican voters need to ask themselves: can Trump win in 2024?
This isn’t like 2016. Trump today is a known commodity in the realm of politics. What’s more, he has a record that sadly includes these legal issues dogging him. It’s not all a vicious conspiracy of the Faceless Men pursuing him (though, certainly Trump’s enemies in the Administrative State are weaponizing the law to weaken Trump).
At least some of these crises Donald Trump faces are of his own making.
If he is the nominee again in 2024, these issues will not bring independent voters—who he needs to win and who categorically disapprove of him—to his side. Actually, polling suggests that swing voters are fine with the fact that Trump is being investigated for his multiple alleged crimes. If anything, these voters want Trump and President Joe Biden equally investigated for their multiple potential crimes, irrespective of their high status in society.
As for a Trump-DeSantis fight for the nomination, consider this: DeSantis won 52 percent of independent voters in his wildly successful reelection campaign (which DeSantis alone is responsible for winning) and enjoys 43 percent approval among likely independent voters going into 2024 compared to the meager 32 percent who support Trump.
What’s more, in a potential Joe Biden-Donald Trump matchup in 2024, Trump loses independents to Biden by about 14 points.
Trump is right to be fearful of his future. A well-funded, popular conservative is chasing him for the GOP nomination while Trump faces a slew of legal woes (at least partly of his own making), any one of which could be his undoing. Voters are watching this play out. Except for the Trump diehards, most voters aren’t liking what they’re seeing on the Trump side of things. That won’t change if he’s the nominee either.
In fact, it’ll probably get worse for Trump.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.