Trump tirades foreshadow trouble for his campaign as he returns to old habits
As Donald Trump faces a looming criminal indictment in New York, the former president has returned to old habits of firing off social media tirades with provocative language to rouse his base — an old strategy that may pose struggles for his new campaign team as they attempt to paint him as a serious candidate in 2024.
Trump has unleashed a number of social media posts over the last week attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over an expected indictment of the former president in relation to a hush-money case that emerged during his first presidential campaign in 2016. Trump slammed the district attorney as a “degenerate psychopath,” warning that his arrest would ultimately lead to “death and destruction.”
TRUMP SLAMS ‘PSYCHOPATH’ ALVIN BRAGG AND SAYS ARREST COULD RESULT IN ‘DEATH AND DESTRUCTION’
“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Friday.
Those comments prompted criticism from several Democratic lawmakers, with many accusing Trump of using similar rhetoric that encouraged his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“It’s dangerous. If he keeps it up, he’s going to get someone killed,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said. “We’ve already seen the consequences of incitement from the former president. He is principally responsible for inciting the violent insurrection that happened on Jan. 6, but clearly, he has not learned his lesson.”
Trump’s most recent social media rants are reminiscent of his familiar tactics of rallying his supporters online by painting himself as a political outsider who is a victim of attacks seeking to tarnish his reputation. However, it comes at a time when his new campaign team wants to take a more disciplined approach — one that establishes Trump as a serious candidate that can win support from all corners of the GOP.
“The Trump campaign team knows the former president’s candidacy has to be more than a stream of consciousness and listing of grievances,” Ken Spain, a former adviser to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2004, told Axios. “But no matter how hard they try to build a structure around him, Trump will be Trump.”
Trump’s latest attacks come as the Manhattan grand jury was dismissed earlier this week without holding a vote on whether to indict him, pushing the decision until further notice. The case had received increased attention throughout the week after Trump posted over the weekend that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday, urging his supporters to protest and “take our nation back.”
If pressed with charges, it would mark the first time a former president has been indicted in U.S. history. However, Trump has maintained he would continue his presidential campaign even if he is arrested and placed in prison.
It’s not yet clear what charges Trump may face, but reports of a possible indictment emerged earlier this month after his former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before the Manhattan grand jury.
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Cohen was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to paying two women who accused Trump of sexual affairs to be silent, including Stormy Daniels. As part of the scheme, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 and was later reimbursed by the Trump Organization.
Manhattan prosecutors later opened an investigation into whether Trump falsified business records to list the reimbursement as a legal expense. Such a crime is a misdemeanor in New York but could be increased to a felony if Bragg’s office argues the fraud was intended to conceal a second crime.