Although Democrats should be pleased with former President Donald Trump’s indictment Tuesday, some lawmakers have expressed alarm that they’re walking into a trap.
“Last time people were rooting for Donald Trump, he ended up president of the United States,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif) told Politico. “We’ve seen this story before.”
Dan Pfeiffer, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama, claimed that Trump is a “tremendously flawed candidate” but noted that it is “impossible to say that he is the weakest because none of these other Republicans have been on the national stage before.” He added that due to the Electoral College’s contours, “any Republican, including Trump, could win the election.”
Rick Wilson, a controversial anti-Trump strategist who helped found the Lincoln Project, said that there are similarities between the 2024 and 2016 elections. Over the past week, with the indictment and arraignment, Trump is once again the center of the media’s attention. Virtually every corporate news outlet—from Fox to NBC News—has Trump as their respective lead stories.
“A lot of Democrats in 2016 were like, ‘Oh yes, Hillary will wipe the floor with Donald Trump.’ And I warned them at the time: Don’t you bite that apple,” Wilson said. “I feel like we’re in a very, very twisted time loop where God is punishing us for our sins.”
After the 2016 win, some Democrats made statements to take a different approach toward Trump. For the 2024 race, strategists told Politico that the former commander-in-chief would likely be the easiest candidate to beat in the general election.
“I’d say in a general election Trump may be the weakest of the major GOP contenders,” Democratic strategist Mark Longabaugh told the news outlet. “And he likely will take on more water over time as several of the other legal cases play out.”
Even a former 2016 Clinton super PAC chief, Anne Caprara, argued that the odds are stacked against Trump for 2024.
“When we dealt with Trump the first time around, he was a different quantity. People knew him as an entertainer and he had this kind of bulletproof image … people saw him as this successful businessman who they’d grown up with or seen on TV for so many years,” she remarked. “And I just think he’s got a much different image now.”
Joe Caiazzo, a former Clinton campaign surrogate, concurred and said that the indictment could sink the former president. “It’s tough to tell where the public will be by the fall of 2024, but getting indicted has never served a candidate well,” he said.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reportedly investigating Trump for alleged payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign. An indictment in the case had not yet been unsealed as Trump returned to New York City to face his arraignment.
After the indictment was voted on by a grand jury, nearly all of the declared and undeclared 2024 Republican presidential candidates decried Bragg’s investigation and described it as a politicized prosecution designed to harm Trump. Even the top Trump rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, stated that he would use his office to block Trump from being extradited to New York if he chose to do so.
If the case against Trump progresses, it would likely take several months before it goes to trial. Some analysts have said Trump could delay the case for month—if not years—by filing motions.
“If he can push this thing back until after the election then he can effectively win the trial that way,” Matthew Galluzzo, a former prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, told NPR. Galluzzo noted that the jury will likely be “incredibly biased” against the former president.
“If I had to pick which side to be on, and I had to win to save my life, I would probably choose to be on the prosecution’s side simply because the jury pool in Manhattan is so incredibly against Donald Trump,” he said.