Former President Donald J. Trump is facing a verdict that poses challenges to his political standing. While an indictment in Manhattan galvanized his supporters, a recent jury decision in a sexual abuse and defamation case may carry a political price for him.
The jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll. The ordered payment to his accuser amounts to $5 million, which he has vowed to appeal. However, it remains unclear whether Trump will face any significant political consequences. Despite his fury over the verdict, Trump’s team intends to aggressively attack Carroll’s claims and associate her with Democrats.
This civil trial outcome is undoubtedly unfavorable for Trump, particularly regarding his presidential campaign aspirations as the Republican front-runner. Trump’s long history of crude and misogynistic comments, along with numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault, would have likely sunk any other candidate. Yet, a majority within the Republican Party has largely dismissed these accusations against the celebrity former president as irrelevant to their voting decisions.
However, the significance of comments and allegations differs from a jury verdict. Trump’s first in-person response to the verdict will occur on a national stage during a town hall hosted by CNN in New Hampshire. This televised event will witness Trump facing a live audience comprising approximately 400 Republicans or Republican-leaning independents.
The question remains whether Trump’s supporters will dismiss the verdict as another politically motivated attack orchestrated by the so-called “deep state.” David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama, wonders if this development will be different from previous scandals or if Trump’s supporters will continue to stand by him.
While a few allies of Trump’s primary rival, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, believe this case could prove significant, most Republicans chose to avert their gazes or offer minimal condemnation. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama even voiced unwavering support, stating that a New York jury left Trump with no chance and that people would see through the lines.
The lack of strong condemnation from Trump’s opponents is notable so far, with only former Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas issuing a statement emphasizing the importance of the jury’s verdict. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence believes the American public should ultimately determine Trump’s fitness for the presidency but suggests their focus lies elsewhere.
Throughout his business and political life, Trump has projected an aura of invincibility, discouraging challengers or critics from even attempting to undermine him. However, the mounting legal challenges he faces could potentially become burdensome. Trump’s advisers have conducted extensive polling to gauge how these legal cases resonate with primary voters.
The recent verdict has proven to be less favorable for Trump’s portrayal as the victim of a “deep state” plot by his opponents. A federal jury legitimized E. Jean Carroll’s accusation of sexual abuse against Trump, further undermining his claims of not knowing her. Additionally, his videotaped deposition during the trial, where he addressed his comments from the “Access Hollywood” tape, may be used against him in television ads, particularly targeting independent and suburban voters who have distanced themselves from Trump.
In his deposition, Trump defended his remarks on the tape, suggesting that the ability of stars to grab women by their genitals had been largely true over the past million years. These remarks have the potential to significantly damage his reputation among voters he had already alienated.
As Trump navigates these legal challenges, the implications for his political future remain uncertain. The verdict raises questions about his electability and the impact on his standing within the Republican Party. Only time will tell whether Trump can successfully overcome these obstacles and maintain his political dominance.
By: Victoria August