By Emre Basaran
ISTANBUL (AA) - Former US President Donald Trump has now become arguably the only favorite in Republican Party’s primaries, polls from renowned business intelligence company Morning Consult showed on Wednesday as controversies continue to haunt him.
According to the company’s report, Trump has a clear edge with 54% as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is seeing support levels hovering around 26% among the Republican electorate.
Even though the intra-party atmosphere can be perceived as a plus for Trump, the grand scheme of things in US political landscape point to some serious trouble the real estate magnate-turned-president might have to face.
The worst controversy to hit Trump’s reputation was, without a doubt, the Jan. 6, 2021 riots that led to the storming of the White House – called by many as an attempt to stage a coup d’état by Trump supporters – which ended in the deaths of five people including a police officer, while in the aftermath four law enforcement officers died by suicide.
Trump’s failure to issue a call to stop the riots and even worse, the fact that he urged the violent protesters to descend on the seat of Congress to block lawmakers from making official the election of his successor Joe Biden was a serious loss of reputation for him as a leader hailed to have come to power through democratic means, and one that derives his legitimacy from the votes cast in favor of him.
The ensuing mayhem and violence were historic after the Jan. 6 riots. Barricades were overrun as rioters clashed violently with police, smashing the Capitol’s windows and invading Congress as lawmakers evacuated and went into lockdown.
The Capitol building, seen by many as a symbol of American democracy, suffered damage not seen since over 200 years ago, during the War of 1812, as invading British forces burned it to the ground.
- Legal challenges
In the two years since, Trump has not put forward any evidence to substantiate his claims of “widespread voter fraud” – allegations he used to try to stoke public anger and draw enraged rioters to the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, attempts to hold those responsible for the violence have continued within the American legal system.
In addition to the probe into his role in the Jan. 6 riots, Trump is already at risk due to numerous other investigations, including those into attempts to meddle in US state Georgia's 2020 election results, his company being found guilty of tax fraud in New York, a hush money probe involving former porn star Stormy Daniels and the probe concerning Department of Justice’s raid into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in which many “improperly handled” and confidential documents were found.
Nevertheless, even after he was “canceled” by Twitter’s previous, liberal-leaning administration which suspended his account, Trump continues to baffle political scientists and manages to stay relevant even in the face of many probes and investigations; even though literally no mainstream channel other than Fox News would give him some airtime and very few newspapers would cover him in a positive light.
Trump will soon make an appearance at a Manhattan court over the $130,000 that he paid to former porn star Stormy Daniels via his then-lawyer Michael Cohen in the final days of his 2016 presidential campaign. According to sources quoted by the Guardian, the former president “wants to be handcuffed” during the trial in hopes to “galvanize” his 2024 bid, as he wants to protest against the “unfair trial.”
Another legal issue Trump is facing nowadays is the State of Georgia’s probe into alleged election interference, by which his right-hand man Rudy Giuliani is also targeted.
Trump reportedly told the state’s top election official that he wants “to find 11,780 votes,” as he lost to Biden by 11,779 votes. He faces charges of “racketeering” and “election code violations” in that probe.
The former president also faces the charges of “unauthorized retention of national security documents,” “obstruction,” “mishandling official documents” in addition to other counts which FBI included in its affidavit for the warrant of the Mar-a-Lago raid which it conducted on Aug. 8, 2022.
With regards to the Jan. 6 riots, Trump faces the charges of “Obstruction of an official proceeding” and most importantly, “resurrection.”
Time will tell if Trump is indeed charged or even convicted with any of those accusations. Already the only president in history of the US to be impeached twice, Trump faces tough prospects and if he is convicted, it will be a first in American political history too.