Donald Trump has faced what could have been a straight week in his bid to win the presidency for the second time.
A jury found him guilty of sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll, and less than 24 hours later at his CNN town hall he doubled down on calling it a ‘crazy job’ and dismissing her claims of rape as “hanky panky”.
He has now been charged with 34 counts and has defended his comments he made on the infamous Access Hollywood tape.
Many lawmakers and commentators celebrated his death sentence for his campaign. Then he fanned the fires further by calling Kaitlan Collins a “mean woman” during their prime-time showdown on Wednesday night, seen by more than three million Americans.
The reality, however, for some pundits and strategists, is quite different. Some say his behavior should disqualify him from being the Republican nominee in 2024 – but others think what doesn’t kill the president makes him stronger.
And his dominance in recent polls and the unwavering support of his base show it.
A jury found Trump responsible for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll, and less than 24 hours later at his CNN town hall he doubled down on calling her a ‘crazy job’ and dismissing her claims of rape like “hanky panky”
At the town hall, he also called moderate Kaitlin Collins a ‘mean person’
He has a decisive lead over potential rival Ron DeSantis, some American voters view him more favorably than President Joe Biden (according to a poll last week) and he continues to win the approval of Republicans.
So, will the events that unfolded this week change the minds of the supporters Trump needs most?
“It will certainly make more independent voters turn away from Trump and should give his GOP challengers an opportunity to pursue Trump as a risky candidate,” GOP strategist Doug Heye told DailyMail.com.
“But whether they take this opportunity remains to be seen.”
“At this point, the American people already have a very good idea of Donald Trump’s character, and Carroll’s verdict is unlikely to change the minds of many voters,” Christina Wolbrecht, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who studies politics and gender told DailyMail.com.
On Capitol Hill, one thing insiders thought Ron DeSantis would get on Trump was establishment endorsements. But insiders say DeSantis is distant and doesn’t take the time to forge the relationships he might need down the line — and early endorsers, particularly in Florida, have massively broken up for Trump.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., chairman of the Senate campaign arm and endorser for the former president, ignored the latest responsible verdict.
“It looks like President Trump’s legal team will be appealing this decision,” he told reporters this week.
“Look, I have respect for our juries, for our system of government. But at the same time, it was something that was a civil matter. It’s not a crime or anything,’ Rep. Buddy Carter, a staunch Trump ally, told DailyMail.com.
Representative Derrick Van Orden, a Republican who was on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 supporting Trump but denies stepping onto Capitol grounds, neither condemned nor endorsed the president.
In an interview with DailyMail.com, he highlighted the difference between guilty and responsible, but avoided giving his own thoughts.
“I don’t tolerate people talking badly about people, ask anyone in my office. It’s not something I focus on. I’ll tell you an absolute truth: Former President Trump and President Biden are going to do what they’re going to do and neither of them is going to call me asking for my opinion.
GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, predicted the case might actually help Trump — as did the Manhattan District Attorney who indicted him.
‘I haven’t seen any polling data, but it seems to me that anytime people are chasing it, whether it’s the Manhattan DA or whatever, that actually – that’s interesting, that actually seems increase its popularity and numbers,” he told DailyMail.com.
Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas and a member of the Senate leadership, said he believes Trump is not a winnable candidate regardless of this week’s verdict.
“The thing is, I don’t think he can win the presidency, no matter what you think of him as an individual.”
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., told CNN he was particularly concerned about Trump’s remarks at town hall where he declined to say whether Russian President Vladimir Putin was a war criminal.
“President Trump’s judgment is wrong in this case,” Young said.
Jean Carroll leaves federal court on May 9, 2023 in New York
A civil jury on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, found that former President Donald Trump sexually assaulted the writer in the 1990s
“Of course,” that worries him, Young said. “That’s why I don’t intend to support him.”
When asked why he wouldn’t support Trump, he replied, “Where do I start?”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, RN.D., told reporters: ‘Obviously, I would prefer to have a president who is not held liable for assault and battery. It’s not a disqualifier, but it certainly isn’t a tick in the plus column.
But experts agree that Trump will have to win over independent-minded suburban women if he is to win. Such behavior may not hurt his standing with women who already like him, but it certainly won’t win new female voters.
“Trump has struggled to win over women, and especially suburban women, in 2020. Women who are already Trump supporters may view a verdict as illegitimate, but they are not the people Trump needs to win,” said law professor and conservative writer William Jacobson. .
“Being found civilly responsible for sexual abuse could only hurt Trump’s chances with much-needed independent women in a general election, which would also factor into the primaries since eligibility is an issue.”