Indictment makes Trump ‘stronger,’ his friends say — and foes agree
The prosecution of Donald Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg won’t dim his political chances — and could actually boost his campaign to retake the White House, supporters and bitter foes alike said Saturday.
“Alvin Bragg’s political prosecution is going to make President Trump stronger,” former GOP congressman and New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin told The Post.
Even “independent-minded general election voters” could gain sympathy for the embattled Trump as the case over a years-old hush-money payment drags on through the 2024 presidential primaries and beyond, Zeldin said.
“Many of them are already raising significant concerns about this indictment and expressing how they believe this is a political prosecution,” he said.
The swirling legal drama stems from accusations that Trump illegally hid hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels over an alleged affair — which Trump heatedly denies — and the ensuing outrage over the historic indictment may well play to his political strengths.
“It will re-solidify the base around him, reorienting the center of gravity back towards Trump as not so much a candidate but something bigger than that: a cause,” said Democratic political consultant Jon Reinish.
“Nobody is as adept at playing to the base’s sense of grievance and persecution,” he added.
“Now they really have something to chew on.”
Republicans on Saturday continued to flock to Trump’s side as outrage over the coming arraignment mounted.
The indictment is “a unifier right now,” one Florida GOP operative told the Washington Examiner.
“There’s a pause on the beating up of each other,” as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and others spring to Trump’s defense.
Trump surged to a 30-point lead over DeSantis, his main primary rival, among Republicans in a Fox News poll released Wednesday, when the indictment — filed on Thursday — was still looming.
Even bitter Trump foe Jeb Bush publicly took his former GOP primary rival’s side Saturday.
“This is very political, not a matter of justice,” the former Florida governor tweeted.
In the short term, there’s a rallying effect, there’s a fundraising effect, which Trump is going to fully employ,” GOP strategist David Kochel told Fox News.
Trump’s campaign coffers swelled with $4 million of fresh cash in the 24 hours after news of the indictment broke — 25% of it from first-time donors.
Trump’s attorneys on Saturday publicly mocked the legal basis of Bragg’s argument.
“Both the US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Elections Commission have looked at and rejected” the alleged campaign finance violation at the heart of the case, Trump attorney Tim Parlatore told Fox News.
“Somehow, New York State is going to have to prove to this jury and this judge that the feds got it wrong, and New York knows better than the feds what federal campaign finance violations are,” Parlatore said.
Trump will face at least one felony charge of falsifying business records in an indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury over an alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election, sources told The Post on Friday.
But the alleged falsification — a misdemeanor under state law — only rises to felony status if Bragg can prove it was committed with an “intent to defraud” the federal campaign finance system, a theory that was previously pursued and then dropped by federal law enforcement authorities, Parlatore said.
Meanwhile, The Post has learned it was the Secret Service that nixed the idea of Trump allowing himself to be handcuffed when he turns himself in for arraignment Tuesday — saying it would pose a security risk in case of an emergency.
“If he’s cuffed, it’s dangerous,” said a source familiar with the security preparations.
“So the Secret Service will be in charge of getting him before the judge, and out again quietly.”
Previously, Trump said he wanted to be hauled into court in handcuffs to make Bragg’s prosecution more of a “spectacle,” according to reports.
Now, an insider told The Post, his mindset has changed.
“He doesn’t want a big fuss and photos that make him look weak and out of control of the situation,” the source said.
The former president will meet with his lawyers on Monday in New York City, sources said – and could be in town as early as this weekend, arriving undercover at his home in Trump Tower.
“When Trump comes into town, the car goes into a garage elevator in Trump Tower, through a service entrance, and [he] then takes a private elevator up to his apartment,” the insider said.
The former president’s legal team will likely aim to extend the case for months — perhaps far into next year’s presidential campaign season — with a long string of filings and motions.
First up: a change-of-venue motion, in which Trump’s lawyers will argue their client can’t get a fair trial before a rabidly anti-Trump Manhattan jury.
That could mean a request for a shift to Trump-friendly Staten Island instead, Bloomberg News reported Saturday — sparking a sharp denial from his legal team.
“This report is crazy,” a source told The Post flatly.
But City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI) cheered the idea.
“Just about half of Staten Islanders eligible to vote voted for him,” Borelli pointed out.
“It will be tough to argue that this population isn’t even-keeled when it comes to the jury pool.”
“In Manhattan, I’m willing to imagine you wouldn’t pay for a drink again in your life in any gin mill in Greenwich Village if you were on a jury that convicted Trump,” Borelli added.
The Manhattan streets outside Bragg’s downtown office and Trump Tower in midtown were free of protesters Saturday — but a steady stream of tourists snapped photos of Trump’s high-rise home to capture what they called a historic moment.
“We heard a lot about this case and just wanted to see the building and take a picture of it,” said Wilson Alexander Olson, 38, a teacher visiting from Norway.
“It could be a big moment in history depending on the outcome and I will have something to show for it,” said Olson’s companion Erik Jensen, 42, who said they are not Trump supporters.
“We are from Florida, do we need to say more?” said Lori, a Trump voter who called the case against him “surreal.”
“We find it funny,” she said. “We gotta find humor in where our country is going.
“I’m sending it to friends so we can just laugh.
“You either laugh or cry. “‘