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Trump supporters unfazed by new indictment: ‘This is all political’

file photo: donald trump holds a campaign rally in erie
Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not short of loyal followers

The indictment of former President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election may be unprecedented in the annals of American history, but it appears to have done little to soften the resolve of Republican voters poised to support his bid for another term in the White House.

Not only do those voters remain ready to back Trump in next year’s presidential election – he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden – but some also have said they plan to donate to his legal defense against what they see as politically motivated prosecutions.

“They want him gone, and I know they’re afraid of him,” said Robin Bartholomew, 66, of Van Buren County, Iowa, the state that will hold the first Republican nominating contest next year. “I think all the indictments are just one thing after another to get rid of him.”

National opinion polls have long shown overwhelming support among Republicans for another Trump term. More than a dozen Republican voters interviewed on Wednesday unanimously said the new charges would not affect their 2024 election choice. These voters seemed to accept Trump’s contention that he is being targeted by Democrats because he is a political threat.

“This is all political,” said Bruce Silver, 68, a salesman from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, another early-voting state. “This indictment is completely idiotic because everyone has freedom of speech, and he didn’t do anything illegal as far as I’m concerned.”

Silver said he donates to Trump on a regular basis and that he “deserves a good defense.”

“The only way I’d vote for anyone other than Trump is if Trump dropped dead before the primaries, and I don’t see that happening,” Silver said.

Trump, 77, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on Tuesday on charges that he conspired to defraud the United States by working with others to try to block congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 victory and deprive voters of their right to a fair election.

Trump was already the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges. He has pleaded not guilty in a New York state case involving hush money paid to porn star and to federal charges that he mishandled classified documents. He may also soon be charged in Georgia as well for his actions to undo his election loss.

The charges have allowed Trump to continue to portray himself as the victim of a political witch hunt and rally voters to his side while dominating news coverage of the Republican race to the point that his rivals can barely get on television.

Brian Demer, 45, a program specialist from Loudoun County, Virginia, called the indictment “just another example of trying to distract citizens from what’s going on, so it won’t affect or impact my vote.”

Demer, however, said he would not donate to Trump knowing the funds could go to his legal expenses.

CIRCLING THE WAGONS

A New York Times/Siena poll released this week before the latest indictment showed Trump as the top presidential choice for 54% of Republican voters, far outpacing his closest competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Fewer than 20% viewed Trump as committing any federal crimes.

The Republican voters who spoke to Reuters appeared unmoved by arguments by Trump’s rivals that he likely would lose a November 2024 rematch with Biden.

“If something bad happens to (Trump) where he’s unable to run for president, of course, you have to look for an alternative for a candidate,” said Steven Wolverton, 57, who works for Coca-Cola and lives in St. Charles, Michigan. “But otherwise, no.”

A June Reuters/Ipsos poll found that nearly 70% of Republicans surveyed believed law enforcement officials were working to delegitimize Trump through “politically motivated investigations.”

Perhaps most critically for his re-election hopes, Trump’s relentless assertion that the 2020 election was fraudulent has continued to resonate with Republican voters.

A March 2021 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 56% of Republicans surveyed believed the election was “rigged.” In a similar poll taken in March of this year, 58% said the election was “stolen” from Trump.

Sharon Young, 27, of Newport News, Virginia, who described herself as an independent, said her focus as a voter remains on the economy, and that she was inclined to support Trump for that reason even though he “doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.”

“When he was president previously, my family lived a lot more comfortably than we do now, and we made less than we do now,” said Young, who manages a homeowners association.

“I don’t honestly personally think that he incited anything,” Young said.

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