Trump’s vulnerabilities for the 2024 presidential race increase after the latest testimony


Stunning new revelations about former US President Donald Trump’s fight to overturn the 2020 election have exposed growing political vulnerabilities just as he contemplates another presidential bid.

A former White House aide this week described Trump as an unhinged leader who disregarded the safety of elected officials from either party as he clung to power on Jan. 6, 2021. Testimony from the congressional panel that investigates the attack on the Capitol provided a roadmap. that prosecutors could potentially charge Trump with a crime, some legal experts say.

Republican voters, and potential rivals to Trump in the 2024 presidential race, have taken notice.

Here in Iowa, the state expected to host the first presidential nominating contest in about 18 months, several voters signaled Thursday that they were open to another presidential candidate, even if Trump were to run again. At the same time, some conservative media issued scathing rebukes to the former president. Aides to multiple Republican presidential candidates also indicated, publicly and privately, that they felt increasingly encouraged to challenge Trump in 2024 after explosive new testimony.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, drew some 350 conservative activists to a congressional cookout Thursday in Sioux County, where Trump won 82 percent of the vote in 2020. There was ample evidence of Trump fatigue. Interviews with a dozen attendees revealed strong interest in an alternative for 2024, even if Trump is on the ballot.

“You would be hard-pressed to find people in this area who support the idea that people aren’t looking for someone else,” said Dave Van Wyk, a trucking company owner. “Presuming that conservative America is 100 percent behind Donald Trump is simply not the case.”

For some Republican voters, that was the sentiment even before this week’s startling new testimony.

Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson offered previously unknown details Tuesday about the extent of Trump’s anger in his final weeks in office, his knowledge that some supporters had brought weapons into the city on January 6, and his ambivalence when the rioters then besieged the city. Capitol.

Upset by the size of the crowd at his “Stop the Steal” rally (many supporters avoided entering because they were armed and didn’t want to go through metal detectors), Trump said words like: “I don’t care that they have guns. They’re not here to hurt me,” according to Hutchinson. She recalled hearing about a separate incident after the rally in which Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle to go to Capitol Hill and join his supporters.

That detail has caused some pushback. The officer driving the vehicle and another official were reportedly prepared to testify under oath that Trump never lunged at the wheel.

But the renewed concern was evident,

The editorial board of the conservative Washington Examiner said Hutchinson’s testimony “should sound the death knell” for Trump’s political career. “Trump is not fit to be close to power anymore.”

The New York Post, often a friend of Trump, criticized the headline: “Trump Tyrant.” And the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote: “Just when it seems that Donald Trump’s behavior after his defeat in 2020 couldn’t look worse, comes a wild new testimony.”

To be sure, conservatives have shared serious concerns about Trump repeatedly in recent years. And in all cases, the former president has emerged virtually unscathed, sometimes stronger. He has been caught on video bragging about sexual assault; he instigated a violent attack on the Capitol; and has been charged twice.

However, Trump has campaign funds of more than $101 million and remains very popular with many Republican voters. For the avoidance of doubt, Republican candidates from Arizona to Pennsylvania and Georgia have been battling each other this midterm season for support.

“The American people remain hungry for your leadership,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said, citing Trump’s strong endorsement record and fundraising success. “And as yet another witch hunt erupts in the faces of Democrats, President Trump is in a stronger position now than at any time before.”

But even before this week’s revelations, a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48 percent of American adults say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the attack on the January 6 to the Capitol.

Opinions about Trump’s criminal responsibility break down predictably along party lines, with 86 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of Republicans saying Trump should be impeached. Still, the fact that nearly half the country believes he should be impeached is a notable position for the former president, pointing to the difficulties he could face if he runs for the White House again.

Meanwhile, Trump’s fundraising has dropped sharply in the past two months. He reported that he raised just over $19,000 in May and June combined after taking in almost $9 million in March and April.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is seeking the 2024 presidential bid, says he heard concerns about Trump from both donors and voters ahead of this week’s testimony, adding to the “cumulative weight” of policy shortcomings. of the former president.

“People are worried that we might lose the election on 24 and they want to make sure they don’t nominate someone who is seriously flawed,” Christie said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is also considering running for 2024, said he believes Trump is beatable in a Republican primary even if Republican voters aren’t paying close attention to the congressional hearings, as he suspects.

“His approval among Republican primary voters has already dipped a little bit,” Hogan said in an interview. “Trump was the least popular president in the history of the United States until Joe Biden.”

Aides to other GOP presidential candidates said privately this week that Trump may still be the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP’s next presidential nomination, but they believe his standing with GOP voters has been steadily declining. There was a widespread sense, or at least a hope, that Hutchinson’s testimony would hasten that decline among voters and donors in a way that would open opportunities for others.

Marc Short, a senior adviser to former US Vice President Mike Pence, another likely 2024 presidential candidate, was blunt when asked about Trump’s political strength.

“Republican activists believed that Donald Trump was the only candidate who could beat Hillary,” Short said. “Now, the dynamic is reversed. He is the only one who has lost to Joe Biden.”

In fact, Trump’s potential Republican competitors are leaning in.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who is part of the Jan. 6 commission and has not ruled out a 2024 presidential bid, portrayed Trump as a direct threat to American democracy in a speech Wednesday night at the Library. Presidential Ronald Reagan.

“Republicans cannot be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. We have to choose,” he said.

Haley, who has said she would not seek the 2024 Republican nomination if Trump were to run, declined to say Thursday whether the testimony has given her reason to reconsider that plan. Instead, an optimistic note sounded.

“If it looks like there’s a spot for me next year, I’ve never lost a race, I’m not going to start now,” Haley told reporters. “I will put in 1,000 percent and finish it. And if there is no place for me, I will fight for this country until my last breath.”

Farmer Bob de Koning said he remains a Trump devotee. He plans to support him in the initial Iowa caucuses no matter who runs.

But his wife, Kathy de Koning, said: “We can do better.”

“I just don’t know if he’s eligible anymore,” he said.


Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.

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