As news of Donald Trump’s federal indictment in the classified documents case sent shockwaves across the United States, the fate of his run for the White House in 2024 has been thrown into question.
The defiant former president said he would not give up and instead tore into the “corrupt” Biden administration and the “armed” Justice Department, and claimed the lawsuit against him was election interference.
He will now split his time between the courtroom and the campaign trail as he tries to seal the GOP nomination while facing seven federal charges, including obstruction and an Espionage Act violation. .
And experts have differing views on whether that will hurt or spur his candidacy to be in the Oval Office for a second time. The criminal cases and investigations against him have so far not slowed him down – and that is unlikely to change in the near future.
A Yahoo News/YouGov poll last month found that six in 10 Americans believe he should be disqualified from office if convicted of a crime.
Yet he will still be able to run for president – and could sit in the White House – if he is ultimately found guilty.
He also maintained a double-digit lead in most polls over his closest rival Ron DeSantis in the Republican primaries.
The strategists spoke to DailyMail.com and offered their thoughts on the impact of the second indictment on Trump’s campaign and voter reaction.
As news of Donald Trump’s federal indictment in the classified documents case sent shockwaves across the US, the fate of his 2024 White House run has been thrown into question
Will his opponents attack him? Are they going to tell Americans that Trump is not the Republican Party’s man? Will he lose more independent voters?
There’s also a chance it could embolden Trump and further bolster support from his loyal MAGA base.
THE CHARGES AGAINST TRUMP AND THE MAXIMUM PRISON TERMS
Trump’s attorneys have confirmed he faces seven federal charges. They have not received the formal indictment, but have received summonses suggesting he will face the charges below and maximum sentences.
- Willful withholding of national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act (maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted)
- Conspiracy to obstruct justice (20 years)
- Retention of a document or file (20 years)
- Hiding Corrupted Document or Folder (20 years)
- Concealment of a document in a federal investigation (20 years)
- Concealment plan (five years)
- False statements and representations (five years)
John Feehery, a former senior Republican who now runs EFB Advocacy, told DailyMail.com: “It will help Trump raise at least five million.” Nothing like making a martyr out of it.
“The idea that he would be indicted for doing much the same thing as Pence and Biden shows how corrupt our justice system has become.”
Republican Rep. Nancy Mace echoed that sentiment Thursday night when she said Biden’s Justice Department secured Trump’s nomination thanks to their unprecedented decision.
Republican strategist Doug Heye told DailyMail.com that the impact of Trump’s second indictment on the race will depend on what his opponents say.
“A second indictment gives them (rivals) a very clear opportunity to say Trump should step aside or there’s just too much drama and Republicans need someone who’s just focused on the defeat of Joe Biden.
‘But will they?
“It will seriously hurt Trump’s chances in the general election with independent voters.
“So Republicans running against Trump have to prove that he’s not the main focus and that he may not be able to win anyway.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who trails less than 1% in 2024 Republican polls, jumped on the news and said Trump should quit.
“With the news that Donald Trump has been indicted for the second time, our country finds itself in a position that weakens our democracy,” Hutchinson said in a press release. “Donald Trump’s actions – from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law – should not define our nation or the Republican Party.
“This is a sad day for our country. While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his his campaign
The defiant former president said he would not give up and instead tore into the “corrupt” Biden administration and the “armed” Justice Department. Documents are seen strewn across the floor of Mar-a-Lago
Max Burns, founder and chief strategist of Third Degree Strategies, told DailyMail.com: “Trump is now adding at least seven felony charges to the 34 he already faces, and several investigations are still ongoing.”
“Trump is now faced with the reality that he will be spending more time in courtrooms than on the campaign trail over the next year. That alone should worry Americans deeply.
Rutgers University presidential historian David Greenberg told DailyMail.com: “If the past is any guide, it seems unlikely to hurt it with Republican primary voters.”
But depending on how the trial unfolds, it’s not hard to imagine swing voters — especially people who aren’t in love with Joe Biden — developing new qualms about voting for Trump in the general election.
“It’s by no means a fatal blow to his candidacy, but Trump and those around him can’t be too happy about this news either.”
The 76-year-old said on Thursday he was told he was charged with espionage – the first time in US history that a former president has faced federal charges.
According to his lawyers, Trump faces four separate counts, each of which could carry a potential prison sentence of 20 years: conspiracy to obstruct justice; withhold a document or file; concealment by corruption of a document or file; and the concealment of a document in a federal investigation.
Melania Trump wore Chanel ballet flats and carried a Chanel handbag, paired with a khaki skirt and black top, when she was spotted leaving Trump Tower in New York City earlier on Thursday
A Mar-a-Lago employee drained the resort’s swimming pool and flooded a room where computer servers containing CCTV logs were kept
One count is punishable by 10 years in prison: willful withholding of national defense information.
And the last two counts have a maximum of five years each: scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations. Trump’s indictment remains sealed, but his decision to make it public means the feds could unseal it as early as Friday, ahead of next Tuesday’s court appearance in Miami.
The news sparked outrage from the Republican Party, with even 2024 rival Ron DeSantis declaring that “the militarization of federal law enforcement poses a deadly threat to a free society.”
DeSantis has not said whether he would forgive his rival if Trump is convicted, despite calls for the governor of Florida to pledge to do so.
Trump himself – who was in Bedminster, New Jersey when news of the accusation broke – condemned the indictment in a clip that the New York Times said was pre-recorded, saying he acted as political persecution, and said, “I am innocent”.