Opinion: “The People Call Donald J. Trump”

“The people call Donald J. Trump.” With those simple words, Monday’s episode of the Democratic Party’s drama of choice began. Trump took the witness stand in a Manhattan court amid accusations that his business empire gave falsely inflated asset numbers to lenders.

The trial will have consequences for Trump’s net and business worth but won’t matter much politically, to the dismay of the Democratic party. New York Attorney General Letitia James campaigned on her promise to launch an extensive investigation into Trump and has doggedly pursued him in an increasingly political, not judicial, vendetta. 

While critics of Trump believe the legal system can knock him clear out of the 2024 presidential election, most Republican voters have long ago dismissed the case as yet a further example of the politicization of the justice system. 

The case is only a precursor to two additional federal cases, along with another in Georgia. Despite it all, or because of it, Trump continues to dominate the GOP primary polling — gaining steam in the most recent Siena College/New York Times poll in five of six battleground states. 

Is Trump’s candidacy being floated by his ongoing prosecutions? In a recent Politico article, Win It Back PAC tested four television ads focusing on Trump’s legal issues. “All four ads tested failed to move support away from Trump,” concluded the research memo. Even more interesting, three commercials increased support for Trump. Two ads “backfired across almost all demographic groups.” 

The Win It Back PAC ads were tested among GOP primary voters, but the backfire effect was more substantial with respondents who identified as “NOT Very Conservative.” But to no surprise, the ads never ran. With President Biden counting on a 2020 rematch strategy, airing them would be a serious mistake. It isn’t a stretch to believe many independents would agree the plethora of Trump prosecutions is unfair and politically motivated.

Instead of trying to defeat Trump politically, they have attempted to unleash the criminal justice system against him in every possible way. In April, the former president received a substantial boost when Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney, brought legally dubious criminal charges against him. 

Trump’s opponents thought prosecuting him would knock him down. Instead, it has energized his candidacy and made him a political martyr. The move is not only powering his campaign; it will propel him into the White House against a weak president, increasingly embroiled in chaos in Ukraine, Israel, China relations, the economy, and along our border.