Donald Trump’s indictment puts the next US presidential election in a historic situation, and raises profound questions about the Republican party’s future.
Trump indictment throws 2024 into uncharted territory
The historic indictment of former president Donald Trump thrust the 2024 US presidential election into uncharted territory, raising the remarkable prospect that the leading contender for the Republican nomination will seek the White House while also facing trial for criminal charges in New York.
In an acknowledgement of the sway the former president holds with the voters who will decide the GOP contest next year, those eyeing a primary challenge to Trump were quick to criticise the indictment. Without naming Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the move “un-American”. Former vice-president Mike Pence, whose life was threatened after Trump incited an insurrection at the US Capitol, told CNN the charges were “outrageous”.
That posture speaks to the short-term incentives for Republicans to avoid anything that might antagonise Trump’s loyal base. But the indictment raises profound questions for the party’s future, particularly as Trump faces the possibility of additional charges soon in Atlanta and Washington. While that might galvanise his supporters, the turmoil could threaten Republicans’ standing in the very swing-state suburbs that have abandoned the party in three successive elections, eroding its grip on the White House, Congress and key governorships.
Trump has spent four decades skirting this type of legal jeopardy and expressed confidence again late on Thursday, blaming the charges on “Thugs and Radical Left Monsters”.