Donald Trump faces second indictment, weeks before visit to Michigan
- New federal indictment charges Trump with illegally keeping government records
- Trump is first former president to face federal criminal charges, is also facing charges in New York
- Unclear whether Trump’s latest legal woes will sway voters’ opinions, pollster says
Former President Donald Trump is now facing another indictment — but unless revelations are “colossal,” criminal charges may not sway voters’ opinions heading into 2024, political observers say.
Late Thursday evening, Trump announced he’s been indicted by the federal government and faces charges related to his keeping classified documents instead of returning them post-presidency.
Trump faces a seven-count indictment including charges of illegal retention of government secrets, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
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According to the indictment, which was unsealed Friday, Trump stored boxes containing classified documents in various locations at his residence in Mar-a-Lago in Florida after leaving office, including “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.”
The documents Trump transported to Mar-a-Lago after his presidency ended contained information from at least seven different federal departments and agencies that if disclosed “could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources,” according to the court filing.
Federal authorities allege Trump “endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal his continued retention of classified documents” after investigators ordered he turn over all documents marked classified last year.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, Trump attorney Jim Trusty said the Republican former president plans to appear in federal court in Miami Tuesday for an arraignment, claiming his client is “factually innocent” and “not afraid of this thing.”
The latest indictment comes as Trump is already contending with criminal charges in New York and pending investigations in other states, as well as a civil suit in which a Manhattan federal jury found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming columnist E. Jean Carroll. Trump is appealing that decision.
He’s also running for president. So far, polling shows Trump has a comfortable lead among other GOP presidential hopefuls, and the former president has a Michigan stop planned this month to accept “man of the decade” honors from the Oakland County Republican Party.
Michigan pollster Richard Czuba, owner of Glengariff Group, noted the indictment likely doesn't change the dynamic of Trump's popularity, which “are already baked into the Republican electorate.”
“If you didn’t like Donald Trump going in, this doesn’t change that,” he said. “If you like Donald Trump, I tend to think this doesn’t change that. Voters have made their decisions about this man, and it’s going to be hard to change anybody’s opinion about him.”
“The man has been impeached twice — it has not changed his numbers,” he added.
What people are saying
Many conservatives came to Trump’s defense late Thursday and into Friday morning. U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, called it “unconscionable” for a current president’s administration to indict the leading candidate opposing him.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, a Michigan native and former state GOP chair, on Friday morning claimed sitting President Joe Biden and his administration “have weaponized the government against their political opponents.”
GOP presidential hopefuls hoping to unseat Trump as the front-runner candidate, wary of alienating the party base, used similar language to criticize law enforcement’s treatment of Trump.
Following his first indictment, Trump had full-throated support from many Michigan Republican leaders, while Democratic officials urged the public to let the judicial process play out.
Reaction was muted in Michigan this time around, with few state supporters or detractors offering commentary.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit — a longtime Trump critic who was once removed from one of his Detroit speeches for protesting — simply stated, “The former twice-impeached president is now twice-indicted.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, joked on Twitter about where agents found documents.
"He stored highly classified documents in his bathroom!? Talk about a sh*tshow," Stabenow wrote.
Trump’s return to Michigan
The latest indictment news comes a few weeks prior to Trump’s planned return to Michigan as keynote speaker for a June 25 Oakland County Republican Party event.
In a social media post this week, Oakland County Republicans said they are “over the moon excited” for Trump’s appearance, which will also include a performance from conservative rock musician and Michigan native Ted Nugent.
Trump has continued to attract huge crowds and lead all polls among potential GOP contenders, despite becoming the first former president to be criminally prosecuted in April. In that case, Trump faces 34 counts related to claims he arranged payouts to conceal extramarital affairs during his first run for president in 2016.
The former president has visited Michigan several times since launching his initial 2016 campaign for president. His last visit was in October to support Tudor Dixon, who ran and lost against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.
He’s not the only Republican presidential contender to visit Michigan this year. In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Michigan and decried what he called the “woke” movement, highlighting his record of conservatism.
It remains to be seen how the GOP primary shakes out, although Czuba noted the number of potential challengers could split up the anti-Trump faction of the Republican Party in Michigan and elsewhere.
The 2024 outcome in Michigan will ultimately rely on the opinions of independent voters, who in 2022 largely defected to Democrats, he continued.
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