Trump arrest claim draws allies to his side as 2024 bid heats up
Published in Political News
Donald Trump’s claim of an imminent arrest jolted the 2024 Republican primary field, with party leaders rallying to his side while forcing his potential challengers to choose between publicly supporting the former president or backing the moves of a Democratic prosecutor.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans quickly coalesced around Trump, suggesting that his arrest would be overreach and politically motivated. Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc. and Twitter Inc., and off-hours U.S. political prognosticator, mused on his social media platform that if Trump is arrested and placed in handcuffs he “will be reelected in a landslide victory.”
In a post on his Truth Social media platform early Saturday morning, Trump said he expects to be arrested Tuesday as part of the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into hush-money payments to an adult film star. He urged his supporters to protest in echoes of his public statements ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to overturn his electoral loss to President Joe Biden.
Polls show Trump as the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, likely in a rematch with Biden in less than 20 months. His potential arrest injects a note of chaos early in the presidential primary cycle against the particularly tumultuous backdrop of three regional U.S. bank failings as the country continues to find its footing after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigations gaining steam coincided with Trump’s intensifying efforts to retake the White House. Last week, he campaigned in Iowa, an early Republican voting state. On Friday, he posted a message on Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook for the first time since 2021, a megaphone he’s used as a powerful clarion for supporters and a prod for wavering allies. He had been banned from Facebook for the rhetoric he used around the Jan. 6 attack.
In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, Trump widened his lead in the 2024 GOP primary race among 15 Republicans who have declared they are running or are considered potential candidates. Trump led Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 46% to 32%, up from 42%-36% in February.
His grip over the GOP was on display Saturday as his allies like McCarthy piped up, while potential rivals, like his former vice president Mike Pence issued support and others, like DeSantis, were silent.
In an interview airing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Pence said he’s “taken aback at the idea of indicting a former president of the United States” and that it would be “a politically charged prosecution.” He also declined to disavow Trump’s call for protests, saying they should be peaceful but that Americans have a constitutional right to assemble.
Just a week ago, Pence called Trump’s language during the Jan. 6 insurrection “reckless” and predicted that history would hold him accountable. Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, one of the first three candidates to formally challenge Trump, also criticized the investigation.
A Trump-aligned super-PAC issued a statement listing the potential GOP presidential aspirants who came out in support of the former president. That included the lack of response from DeSantis, who Trump has called his strongest potential challenger. There were calls Saturday by conservatives on social media for DeSantis to step in and prevent an arrest in Florida, where Trump lives.
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