Trump leans into indictment for springboard into 2024 election

Progressive group calls for Trump's removal from Florida ballot
Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 09, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The political world remains rocked by the federal indictment of a former president. It's a first in American history and potentially a game changer in the race for the White House, specifically the GOP primary.

Donald Trump first announced his federal indictment Thursday night on Truth Social. Just 17 minutes later, his campaign for president sent out its first fundraising email trying to make bank off it. A steady stream of solicitations has followed featuring videos, even T-shirts commemorating the date.

Political communications expert University of South Florida Professor Josh Scacco said it's a traditional Trump strategy. A playbook he's used after the New York indictment, the Muller investigation and two impeachments.

"The Trump response is actually characteristically Trump," Scacco said. "It's to push back. It's to fundraise. It's to deny and it's to deflect. This is what he's done."

For other Republicans in the race, it’s a mixed bag. Some like Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., have come to the former president's defense. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., called for Trump to bow out.

Former Vice President Mike Pence wants to have it both ways. He said on a conservative talk show earlier Friday "No one is above the law" but later in New Hampshire called for more transparency from the Justice Department.

"The American people have a right to know what's in that indictment, and they have a right to know today, the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States," Pence said. "It's not just a sad day, but it's a troubling day. ... It invites a divisiveness in this country that can only be answered with facts."

Their messages are all over the place for now, but Professor Sean Foreman, a politics expert with Barry University, wonders if it'll stay that way as more info on the indictment is released.

"After people really think about the weight of these charges and the potential punishment to Donald Trump if he's convicted, then I think they're really gonna have to recalibrate their message," Foreman said.

For Democrats, the president and national party leaders have mostly stayed silent, for now. DNC Chair Jamie Harrison dismissed questions about the indictment when asked during a Friday news conference.

"I'm not going to spend any time or comment on these investigations," Harrison said. "I'm going to allow these investigations to play their course."

Progressive groups like Move On are not on the same page. Members in Tallahassee submitted a petition to the Florida Department of State on Friday afternoon with more than 10,000 Floridian signatures. They're calling for state election officials to disqualify Trump from another White House run in Florida and keep him off the ballot in the Sunshine State.

"Trump's action violates the oath of office that he took to protect this nation from enemies both foreign and domestic" Ion Sancho, who served as Leon County's election supervisor from 1989 to 2017, said. "Thus, violating section three of the 14th Amendment."

The request appears unlikely, but in a presidential race that keeps surprising— it seems anything can happen.