When a possible indictment threatens, Trump’s team plans an attack

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa on March 12, 2023. (Desiree Rios/The New York Times)

While former President Donald Trump is likely to face criminal charges, his campaign is preparing to wage a political war.

With a looming indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Trump’s campaign is laying the groundwork for a broad attack on Bragg, a Democrat. According to two of Trump’s political allies, the campaign will aim to frame all charges as part of a coordinated Democratic Party offensive against Trump, who is seeking to become only the second former president to win a new term after leaving office.

It’s unclear what data points, if any, the Trump team intends to point beyond Bragg’s party registration to argue that the prosecutor is part of a broader political conspiracy against the former president. It’s also uncertain whether Trump will add lawyers to his legal defense team or bring in a communications consultant, who will play a more traditional role in answering a variety of media questions related to a possible indictment.

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Trump’s two allies said his campaign will add staff, specifically to focus on getting their message out and their attacks on prosecutors. In addition, the campaign has compiled a database listing everyone — members of Congress, legal experts, members of the media — who have expressed doubts about the strength of the district attorney’s case, the allies said.

In particular, his campaign team plans to try to link Bragg’s investigation into Trump to President Joe Biden, who is expected to be re-elected. The Justice Department has spent months looking into Trump in separate investigations into his possession of hundreds of classified documents at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, and his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.

These efforts led to the most visible moment when Trump directed his supporters’ anger at government institutions ahead of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

A campaign official underscored the extent to which Trump’s campaign again relies on the outrage of his supporters, claiming that the nation would not “tolerate” law enforcement and viewed it as an attempt to influence the 2024 election.

“President Donald J. Trump is completely innocent, he has done nothing wrong, and even the biggest and most radical left-wing Democrats make that clear,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. He listed a number of other investigations Trump faced and referred to the Manhattan case as “the nuclear button” and called it a “political donation” from Bragg “to Joe Biden.” And the Trump team plans to highlight a donation to a political action committee by philanthropist George Soros, who is frequently attacked from the right, and was meant to help Bragg.

A spokesman for the Manhattan Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Trump’s allies say tying Biden to what’s taking place in Manhattan, New York, will be a key aspect of the campaign’s response. And the extent to which the Trump team plans to make a historic indictment of a former president a key campaign message is likely to set a new political precedent.

“A Trump impeachment is immediately added to his campaign platform and talking points, another first in presidential politics,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist who has observed Trump and presidential campaigns for decades.

During his tenure, Trump was protected by a Justice Department policy from impeaching a sitting president.

Trump has already spent almost two years attacking Bragg, who is black, as a “racist” and as a continued effort to harm him, following two impeachment trials and a two-year Special Counsel investigation into whether he obstructed justice and whether his campaign Conspired with Russians in 2016.

But since Trump launched his third presidential campaign in November, his focus has grown on the attacks on investigators.

Other Trump political allies made it clear that there would be an effort to highlight how his Republican rivals are handling news of an impeachment and whether they support or defend him. Trump’s allies said his advisers believed the issue could get some of his opponents in trouble, particularly his closest potential opponent in public polls: Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Trump has often subjected anyone who investigates or scrutinizes him to slashing attacks. It remains to be seen whether the campaign’s approach will remain more or less the same or will use new tactics such as TV advertising.

When Trump was in office and faced with the investigations of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, some of his attorneys initially tried to play by the playbook set by President Bill Clinton’s aides during his impeachment investigation in the 1990s. In this case, separate, parallel operations were created to allow the government’s work to continue.

But Trump, who often conflates legal and PR issues, dismissed the idea. So there was only a short time a designated spokesman who took care of press questions.

People involved in Trump’s legal case have discussed bringing on a new attorney to complement the existing team of Susan Necheles, a Manhattan criminal defense attorney, and Joe Tacopina, a New York attorney with a thug attitude.

Tacopina has been an aggressive defender of Trump on television. On Tuesday, Tacopina made several allegations on MSNBC attacking the credibility of star witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer. But other comments he made left some of Trump’s allies stunned by what he articulated.

Tacopina bluntly stated that Trump has a political advantage from an impeachment.

“If they bring this case, I think that will catapult him into the White House,” Tacopina said of Trump on MSNBC. “I believe it because this will show how they arm the justice system.”

Tacopina insisted that what Trump was doing — signing reimbursements to Cohen, who had made a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who said she was having an affair with Trump — was at Cohen’s suggestion happened and “no crime was.”

At one point, when the interviewer, Ari Melber, was reading from a piece of paper, Tacopina tried unsuccessfully to grab it across the set. When pressed as to why Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One in 2018 he didn’t know about the payments, Tacopina insisted it wasn’t a lie.

“To me, a lie is something essential under oath in a proceeding,” Tacopina told Melber.

“That’s why it’s not a lie,” Tacopina added. “Because it was a confidential agreement. So if he admitted that, he would be breaking the confidential agreement.”

He continued: “So, is it the truth? Of course it’s not the truth. Should he tell the truth? He would be breaking the agreement if he told the truth. By doing that, by doing that, not only was he respecting his rights, but he was respecting Stormy Daniels’ rights as well.”

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Source : news.yahoo.com

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