Mar 20, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump's war footing

Trump Tower

Supporters rally outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Photo: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Donald Trump and his allies have launched a blistering offensive against Manhattan's district attorney, resurrecting old tactics — and testing new ones — in an attempt to undermine the most acute legal threat of the former president's life.

Why it matters: If Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg does seek an indictment over Trump's alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, his most difficult challenge could come in the court of public opinion. Republicans are preemptively rallying to try to ensure Bragg loses that fight.

Driving the news: Trump — after claiming he would be arrested on Tuesday — has spent the last several days relentlessly attacking Bragg (who is Black) as a racist, radical partisan engaged in a conspiracy to destroy the country.

  • "ALVIN BRAGG SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE CRIME OF 'INTERFERENCE IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION,'" Trump wrote in one of many all-caps Truth Social diatribes yesterday.
  • The Trump campaign is hiring additional staff to push out its response and has not ruled out running TV ads, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, in Congress, three GOP committee chairs sent a letter to Bragg demanding he testify about the possible Trump charges — 48 hours after receiving marching orders from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

  • The unprecedented federal intervention is unlikely to deter the Democratic prosecutor, but it shows the extent to which Republicans are circling the wagons to protect Trump — even as his support within the GOP has declined.
  • House GOP Conference chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — who vaulted to Republican stardom defending Trump during his first impeachment — told the Free Beacon that getting Bragg to testify before Congress is now a "top priority."

Between the lines: Despite the groundswell of support, some Republicans have expressed reservations about Trump's call for mass protests — as the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to haunt the GOP.

  • "I don't think people should protest this, no," McCarthy told reporters yesterday.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) suggested federal "assets" could be in place to turn the protests violent, echoing her claims that Jan. 6 was a false flag to persecute Trump supporters.
  • The far-right New York Young Republican Club organized a protest for Monday evening in Lower Manhattan, while some pro-Trump online forums appeared divided over whether appearing in public could be too dangerous.

The bottom line: Trump has run the "witch hunt" playbook many times — including during the Russia investigation, his first and second impeachments and after the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago. With three other criminal investigations looming in the distance, it won't be retired anytime soon.

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