The former president vows to remain in the race, pledging to campaign from prison if necessary.
Former President Donald Trump
has boldly declared his unyielding commitment to the 2024 presidential campaign, asserting that he would not withdraw even if convicted of a felony and, if necessary, would campaign from behind bars.
“I’ll never leave,” Trump resolutely stated during an interview with Politico, conducted aboard his plane while traveling between campaign events. This uncompromising stance comes in the aftermath of a 37-count federal indictment leveled against Trump by the US Department of Justice. When questioned about the possibility of pardoning himself, Trump dismissed the notion, asserting, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Legal Limitations and Trump’s Tenacity
Current US law does not prohibit an individual from running for president while under indictment, nor does a conviction serve as a disqualifier. The former president's defiance remains intact as he continued to employ inflammatory language to describe his legal predicament and opponents. “These are thugs and degenerates who are after me,” he proclaimed.
The charges, related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents and obstruction of the DOJ’s investigation, are historic, making Trump the first former US president to face federal charges.
Rallying the Base
Despite these legal challenges, Trump is employing the indictment to rally his supporters. He portrays the charges as yet another attempt by political rivals to persecute him. During a speech at the Georgia Republican Party’s convention, Trump declared, “The ridiculous and baseless indictment by the Biden administration’s weaponized Department of Justice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country.”
An ABC/Ipsos study reveals that approximately 48% of Americans support the indictment over Trump's handling of classified documents. However, the partisan divide is striking: 86% of self-identified Democrats back the indictment, while 67% of self-identified Republicans oppose it.
Trump, who leads the Republican field, still maintains significant influence over the party, with most rivals refraining from utilizing the indictment to attack him.
Republicans' Mixed Reactions
Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida and considered Trump’s most formidable rival, criticized the “weaponization of federal law enforcement” but did not refrain from a subtle jab at Trump by pointing out that mishandling classified documents during his tenure as a navy lawyer would have led to swift court-martial.
Former Vice President Mike Pence called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to publicly justify the charges, and Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador, echoed sentiments of political prosecution.
Conversely, Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey and presidential hopeful, referred to the indictment as “devastating” and “evidence-filled,” questioning if this is the conduct the country wants from a presidential candidate.
Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas Governor, urged Trump to withdraw from the race, arguing that his continued candidacy “does a disservice to the office of the presidency and to the country.”
Trump is scheduled for arraignment at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday at 3 pm. The Secret Service is formulating plans for transporting Trump to the courthouse in what is anticipated to be a media spectacle.
The former president is no stranger to legal battles and has previously faced two impeachments while in office. Additionally, he is entangled in separate criminal charges in Manhattan over hush-money payments and could potentially face more charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Despite the legal tumult, Trump seems undeterred, although he acknowledges the gravity of his situation. “Nobody wants to be indicted,” he told Politico. “I don’t care that my poll
numbers went up by a lot. I don’t want to be indicted. I’ve never been indicted. I went through my whole life, now I get indicted every two months. It’s been political.”.
Trump's steadfast determination and fervor have characterized his political career, and the outcome of these legal proceedings may well determine the future of American politics.