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GRIMES, IOWA - JUNE 01: Former President Donald Trump greets supporters at a Team Trump volunteer leadership training event held at the Grimes Community Complex on June 01, 2023 in Grimes, Iowa. Trump delivered an unscripted speech to the crowd at the event before taking several questions from his supporters.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump greets supporters at a Team Trump volunteer leadership training event held at the Grimes Community Complex on June 1, 2023, in Grimes, Iowa.

Photo:Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Republican Party has devolved into a cult of personality, where every new piece of evidence of their leader’s criminality becomes another reason for his followers to defend him. Donald Trump has now been indicted twice in just over two months, in separate cases involving accusations of unrelated crimes. Both times, Republicans have rallied around him. The group of whiners and weaklings who are running against Trump for next year’s Republican presidential nomination are so intimidated by his hold on the party’s base that they are afraid to publicly tell the truth, which is that Trump is a thug who should be in prison instead of the White House.

How many indictments will it take to wake Republicans from their fever dream?

Trump was indicted in April on New York state charges in connection with campaign finance violations involving hush money payments to a former porn star; his most recent charges, in an indictment released Friday, involve his efforts to keep and hide classified documents after his presidency.

And yet, this is just the beginning of Trump’s legal woes. The most serious criminal investigations of Trump that are now underway have not yet led to charges — but that could soon change. Trump faces the very real possibility that he will be indicted at least two more times this year, in cases related to his efforts to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election. In Georgia, he could be charged later this summer for his efforts to change the outcome of the presidential election in the state, which Joe Biden won. A separate federal investigation is underway into Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his broader efforts to overturn the presidential election.

Criminal charges aren’t Trump’s only legal problems. The state of New York has filed a civil lawsuit against him — along with three of his children and his company, the Trump Organization — alleging that, for decades, they engaged in a wide range of fraudulent business practices.

In addition, Trump has just lost another civil lawsuit in New York brought by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who alleged that Trump raped her in a department store in 1996, and then defamed her when he denied the accusation. In May, a jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages; she has since asked a judge to amend her lawsuit so she can seek further damages after Trump made statements during a CNN broadcast in May that she says defamed her once again.

While he was in office, of course, Trump was also the first president ever to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives, in two separate cases. In December 2019, the House voted in favor of two articles of impeachment, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with his efforts to blackmail Ukrainian officials by withholding U.S. military aid to get them to falsely accuse Biden of corruption. At the time, Trump saw Biden as his most formidable Democratic opponent in the upcoming 2020 election, and he believed that an announcement of a criminal investigation of Biden in Ukraine would damage his rival’s candidacy.

Trump was impeached a second time in January 2021, just as he was leaving office, in a case in which the House charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for urging his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol, which led to the January 6 riot.

None of those legal matters involve the true OG of Trump cases: what has gone down in history as the Mueller investigation. From 2017 until 2019, former FBI Director Robert Mueller led a special counsel inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in order to help Trump win, probing whether Trump or any of his campaign aides or allies collaborated with the Russians. The inquiry found multiple connections between Trump allies and Russian officials and intelligence agents, while also uncovering strong evidence of obstruction of justice by Trump, who was seeking to impede Mueller’s inquiry.

Mueller did not issue criminal charges against Trump, but he made it clear that Trump could have been charged with obstruction if he had not been the sitting president at the time. In his final report, Mueller pointed to a Justice Department guideline against federal indictments of sitting presidents, strongly suggesting that was the only reason he didn’t charge Trump with obstruction. He later told Congress that a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after he left office, but the Biden administration has not revived those charges.

None of the legal cases address Trump’s unrelenting racist demagoguery, his mentally unbalanced embrace of conspiracy theories, or his casual use of lies and disinformation to defend himself and attack his enemies. In 2021, the Washington Post’s fact-checking team concluded that Trump had made 30,573 false or misleading claims over the four years of his presidency.

Will four criminal indictments, a wide-ranging civil fraud case, a civil sexual abuse and defamation verdict, two impeachments, a stalled obstruction of justice case, and 30,573 lies be enough to wake up Republicans?

During the early days of his 2016 presidential campaign, after he began to attract huge crowds of zealous supporters, Trump famously said that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

He is currently testing that theory. So far, the Republican Party is proving him right.

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This content originally appeared on The Intercept and was authored by James Risen.


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