Veteran New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman on Thursday explained the often-overlooked tactic Donald Trump is deploying as he navigates his indictments while campaigning for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Haberman told CNN’s “AC360” the former president is using his fans as a “shield” against the 78 criminal charges he is facing in three indictments.
Trump is trying to “reinforce” the idea that it is inevitable that he will be the Republican nominee in 2024, and that no one should even bother trying to challenge him, Haberman explained.
“He is doing what he often does, which is try to make it such an inevitability that nobody should even try, and that is something of a shield against what you’re seeing in the courts,” she said.
Haberman continued: “His appeal is to the public. We have seen him do this as a populist over and over and over again, and his voters become his support and his shield.”
Following his latest indictment over his efforts to undo Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, Trump told his supporters that he is being attacked by the government on their behalf.
“They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom,” he told a New Hampshire rally audience on Tuesday.
The strategy appears to be working. He remains the GOP front-runner, maintaining a nearly 40-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to an average of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight. He has refused to commit to the first GOP primary debate later this month.
Meanwhile, Trump is “very angry” about being accused of felonies, Haberman said, and is attacking the prosecutors pressing charges against him. He recently released an ad titled “The Fraud Squad,” seeking to discredit Smith, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Willis, who is considering charging Trump and his allies for trying to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election result, referenced Trump’s ad in an email to colleagues, urging them to not respond to the “false” information.
“We have no personal feelings against those we investigate or prosecute and we should not express any,” Willis wrote. “This is business, it will never be personal.”
In addition to his indictment in the 2020 election interference case, Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, and a hush money scheme involving porn star Stormy Daniels.