- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2023

Former President Donald Trump, addressing the latest indictment against him, said that Republicans risk losing their party if they don’t fight harder against political prosecutions against him.

Mr. Trump said Republicans should not waver against the onslaught of criminal charges against the front-runner for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

“It is a disgraceful thing and Republicans can’t let them get away with it. Republicans have to be tough. The Republicans are great in many ways, but they don’t fight as hard for this stuff and they have to get a lot tougher. And if they don’t, they are not going to have much of a Republican Party,” he said in an interview aired Thursday on Fox Business Network.

Mr. Trump told host Larry Kudlow, who served as the director of the National Economic Council in the Trump White House, that the most recent charges filed against him are an extension of the partisan “witch hunt” he has weathered for years.

“I think they are sick people,” Mr. Trump said of his legal and political foes. “I think they are people that have no idea how the world works, and they have no idea the anger they cause.”

Mr. Trump and 18 others were charged this week by an Atlanta-area grand jury with engaging “in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result” in 2020.

His co-defendants include former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as the former president’s personal lawyer, and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Mr. Trump now faces 91 felony charges brought against him in four separate cases playing out in Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington.

Mr. Trump, 77, denies any wrongdoing. He insists President Biden and other Democrats are trying to knee-cap his presidential run.

“They are all very similar in the sense there is no basis for them,” Mr. Trump said. “They want to suppress your voice. They don’t want you to ever talk about an election. If you talk about an election, they want to put you in jail.”

Mr. Trump said he is being held to a double standard. He questioned why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and other Democrats avoided legal action after questioning their electoral losses.

Mr. Trump’s post-indictment public relations campaign has been picking up speed. 

He announced earlier this week that he will share a “CONCLUSIVE Report” of election fraud in Georgia at a news conference Monday in Bedminster, New Jersey, that will show “all charges should be dropped against me & others.”

The report, according to the New York Times, was assembled by Liz Harrington, a Trump aide who has been amongst the most vocal promoters of Mr. Trump’s stolen election allegations.

The press conference could be called off, according to news reports Thursday, because Mr. Trump’s legal team warned him against reiterating the stolen-election theories that are the basis for some of the criminal charges against him.

Despite the legal challenges, Mr. Trump maintains solid support among a large portion of GOP primary voters who see the charges level against him as politically motivated.

Mr. Trump’s lead in national polls has increased by double-digits since the news first broke in late March that the Manhattan district attorney was going to charge him with trying to cover up hush money payments made in 2016 to two women and a hotel doorman.

He has since been charged with federal crimes related to the mishandling of classified documents and interfering in the 2020 election.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released a new poll this week showing 63% of Republicans say they want Mr. Trump in the presidential race, marking an increase from 55% in April.

The poll, which was conducted before the Georgia indictments, showed Mr, Trump’s favorable rating among Republicans has jumped to 70% from 60% two months ago.

Mr. Trump’s image, however, is in rough shape outside the GOP’s friendly confines.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday found that 54% of Americans think Mr. Trump should be prosecuted on criminal charges, compared to 42% who think he should get a pass. 

Independents agreed he should be prosecuted 57% to 37%. 

The AP survey showed 53% of Americans would “definitely not” support Mr. Trump in a general election, and another 11% would “probably not” back him.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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