Former president Donald Trump has the uncanny ability to turn what would have been career suicide into popularity gems his followers eat up. Case in point: His current fraud case in New York.
While the suit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against him and his adult sons, threaten to dissolve a significant chunk of the Trump empire’s real estate assets in the New York, the former commander-in-chief has used his current circumstances to feed into his narrative of being an underdog, a discriminated and embattled “hero” that is suffering from the “weaponized” laws of a powerful cadre of liberal elites – a narrative that continues to embolden, energize, and rile up his followers.
Despite the fact that many of his rivals in the race to secure the GOP presidential nomination are slowly gaining traction, the former chief executive is still the strong favorite to win the primary, and his poll numbers are still leagues away from his competitors.
Data from poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight puts Trump’s approval and support rating among Republican voters at an average of 55.4%, a far cry from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s second place numbers, which stands at 13.7%. Former South Carolina Governor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley – whose recent rise in popularity has made her a recent target of Trump’s trolling – is third with a mere 7.8% support. And that’s on top of the fact that Trump has not participated – and will likely not – in any Republican primary debate to date.
Fanfare and media frenzy
Despite the fact that Trump was under no obligation to make a court appearance at the beginning of his fraud trial in New York, the former president made himself present, both physically and on social media, with the frenzy surrounding him akin – or even surpassing – levels that would have been normally seen at a campaign rally. Reporters jostled for seats in the courtroom – with some even trying to secure prime space overnight – with several news outlets broadcasting even the most mundane events live, and media helicopters followed his motorcade from Trump Tower to the courthouse, which is located in Lower Manhattan.
“JUST ARRIVED AT THE COURTHOUSE TO FIGHT A CORRUPT & RACIST ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND A ROGUE, OUT OF CONTROL, TRUMP HATING JUDGE, WHO REFUSES TO FOLLOW THE APPELLATE COURT DECISION WHICH KNOKS OUT 80% OF THIS SHAM CASE. THIS IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME. ELECTION INTERFERENCE!” one of Trump’s posts read.
“They indicted President Trump for using his God’s given RIGHT under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution to challenge the fraudulent election results. We The People can see clearly that it is an Election Interference. President Trump never gives up on us, We The People will never give up on Trump! NEVER FORGET and NEVER SURRENDER!” wrote one user in response.
“Judge Engoron has been given false and grossly misleading information about my Net Worth by a lying and incompetent Attorney General, such as Mar-a-Lago being worth $18,000,000 when in fact the number would be much closer to 1.5 Billion Dollars, like other properties, including two that were recently sold for numbers many times those that were listed in the Financial Statements. The N.Y.S. Attorney General, therefore, committed FRAUD for Political and Election Interference reasons. This case should therefore be dismissed!” Trump posted only several hours later.
As opposed to Trump’s argument that his cases would severely compromise his ability to campaign – an argument his lawyers have put forward in a failed attempt to have his indictment trials pushed as far forward as 2026 – his court appearances and cases are apparently benefitting his campaign instead of putting a damper on it.
“Every lawyer would say, ‘Don’t talk.’ Every candidate would obey the lawyer. Trump just throws out the playbook,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary who also pointed out that Trump erases the distinction between campaigning and courtroom appearances.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.
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