Politics

What Donald Trump’s latest indictment means for him—and for 2024

The unprecedented second indictment of former President Donald Trump could have serious implications for the ongoing 2024 presidential race, CBS News Political Director Fin Gómez said on Thursday. 

Two U.S. officials confirmed the charges stemming from the federal investigation of Trump’s handling of sensitive government documents after leaving the White House to CBS News, as did Trump’s attorney. 

The decision in March of a New York grand jury to indict Trump due to the circumstances surrounding a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 didn’t hurt Trump’s favorability ratings in the polls, Gómez told CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes on Thursday. 

“If you look at the Manhattan DA case, [Trump’s] poll numbers boosted him right after that happened,” Gómez said, adding that this fact was not lost on sources from rival Republican campaigns. 

Thursday’s fresh indictment, however, could have more serious implications for Trump, Gómez said. 

“This is a little more serious, obviously. This is a federal case. It could be potential federal indictments,” Gómez said, noting that rival sources “believe in the long run, as the cycle continues, it could wound [Trump] to the point that it could potentially knock him off that podium, if you will, of being the front runner.” 

A couple of the 2024 GOP hopefuls responded to news of the indictment Thursday night. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, noting in a statement that this is Tump’s second indictment, said “his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law—should not define our nation or the Republican Party.” He suggested the criminal proceedings would be “a major distraction,” and called on Trump “to respect the office and end his campaign.” 

Vivek Ramaswamy defended the former president, declaring,”I never thought we would see the day when the U.S. President deputizes the DOJ to arrest his lead rival in the middle of an election,” and he said that if he wins the presidency, he’d immediately pardon Trump.

The exact nature of the charges, the first to arise from special counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, was not immediately clear. But three sources familiar with the case said the former president has been charged in a seven-count indictment involving the retention of national defense information, conspiracy and obstruction.

Trump is also facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York state court, and a trial in that case is set to begin on March 25, 2024, in the thick of the presidential campaign. He pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The Republican field for the 2024 elections grew substantially this week, with a number of Republicans joining or hinting about joining the race. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum all launched their campaigns this week. 

Sources close to former Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd told CBS News that Hurd is nearing a decision. Hurd, also a former CIA officer, has been seriously considering a run for a couple of months. 

Another potential candidate is two-term Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has been openly considering a run for a few months. A senior GOP source said that Suarez has been moving in the direction of declaring his candidacy, Gómez said. 

In three posts to his account on Truth Social on Thursday, Trump said attorneys with the Justice Department informed him he was indicted over the “boxes hoax” and he has been called to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday. 

“I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting President in the History of our Country, and is currently leading, by far, all Candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 Presidential Election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” he claimed.

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