From the Right



The GOP is Actually Relieved Trump is On Trial

S.E. Cupp, Tribune Content Agency on

Imagine your party’s presumptive nominee for president is about to stand trial for paying off a porn star he allegedly slept with just months after his wife gave birth to their son.

The allegations alone are seedy enough. Then throw in witnesses like the unfortunately named former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, convicted felon Michael Cohen, and the whole sordid affair is a pretty gross but revealing look at the presidential contender’s inner circle and private life.

This would ordinarily spell doom for the presidential candidate — and his party. Ordinarily, a party might consider nominating someone else rather than endure the embarrassing and unseemly details that will emerge from this undignified affair.

Ordinarily, a party might distance themselves from the candidate so as not to appear to endorse his depraved and perhaps illegal behavior, especially if that candidate were also facing three other criminal trials for deeds just as — if not more so — unbecoming.

But these are not ordinary times. And today’s Republican Party abandoned ordinary years ago in favor of extraordinary, unprecedented, self-destructive, even disastrous.

Donald Trump has simultaneously been the Republicans’ biggest boon, energizing and consolidating the base in ways never before seen, as well as the biggest drag on a party that lost the White House, House and Senate in four short years.

And now he’s on trial for hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, a trial many think he will lose. But believe it or not — and here’s the kicker — Republicans are relieved this trial is finally underway. Yes, I said relieved.

The last few months of the presidential election have put Republicans on the defensive over women’s reproductive rights.

In the fallout from the overturning of Roe v. Wade — a seismic Supreme Court decision that Trump routinely takes credit for, despite it being very unpopular— Republicans are in an uncomfortable, white-hot spotlight.

There were the early and embarrassing losses in red states like Ohio and Kansas, where voters rejected efforts to effectively ban abortions.

Then, heart-wrenching stories out of Indiana, where a 10-year-old rape victim had fled from Ohio for an abortion, and Texas, where a woman whose life was at stake was still denied an abortion.

Then, a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court declaring it illegal to dispose of IVF frozen embryos, which left many infertility patients in limbo.

Then, a ruling in Florida allowing for a six-week abortion ban to take effect.

Next, a ruling in Arizona, upholding an 1864 law that banned virtually all abortions.

And finally this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments to determine whether Idaho’s near-total abortion ban conflicts with federal law protecting women who need emergency care.


The blows have come steadily since the 2022 overturning of Roe, forcing Republicans to defend or disavow the ramifications of that decision on a regular basis.

And they’re facing an alarmed and angry electorate.

A majority of Americans say the Republican efforts to limit abortion access go too far. In several battleground states, abortion is the most potent issue driving suburban women to the polls, and they believe Trump’s policies are too extreme. A majority of voters in Florida, Idaho, Texas, Ohio, and Arizona, want abortion laws expanded, not made more strict.

This kind of math doesn’t bode well for Republicans, including Trump. And they know it.

So the hush money trial — unseemly as it is — is a welcome relief from the battering ram of unpopular abortion measures.

As one Republican lawmaker told me, “Anything to take us off abortion, honestly. We can’t win the messaging on these bans, on no exceptions [for rape, incest, or life of the mother]. We just can’t.”

Put another way, it’s an easier task to blast the Trump trials as political “witch hunts,” than to defend their own policies.

It’s an astonishing dilemma and an unenviable situation for Republicans — having to choose between defending porn star payments by the president or his unpopular policies. And Republicans will have to do both over the course of the next few months.

But it’s not as if they couldn’t see this coming. The guy responsible for putting them here is the guy they continue to back against all odds and logic. Had they refused Trump’s total takeover, they could have had a nominee facing zero criminal indictments. And they could have had a nominee who didn’t push the party into the political wilderness with extremist, regressive, unpopular legislation.

So just when you’re thinking the Trump trials are the worst thing to happen to the GOP’s November chances, remember — compared to their policies, this is actually what they’d prefer to talk about.


(S.E. Cupp is the host of "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered" on CNN.)

©2024 S.E. Cupp. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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