CNN – The already tumultuous 2024 presidential race took an unexpected turn when former President Donald Trump announced that he will be turning himself in to the Fulton County jail in Atlanta this week. This comes after Trump was indicted for the fourth time for alleged election interference in Georgia. A senior law enforcement source informed CNN that Trump is expected to surrender between Thursday and Friday, which coincides with the first Republican debate scheduled for Wednesday.
The timing of Trump’s surrender is significant as it will overshadow the debate and further highlight the entanglement of the political calendar with his legal troubles. Trump’s decision to sit out the debate and his subsequent appearance in jail will once again demonstrate how his legal woes are dominating the Republican race.
While no other candidate facing numerous criminal charges could even consider running for president, Trump has managed to turn his legal issues into a political advantage. His lead in primary polls suggests that his strategy is resonating with Republican voters. However, the question remains whether a candidate who might spend a considerable amount of time on trial rather than on the campaign trail is a viable candidate for the general election.
Trump’s latest indictment in Fulton County accuses him of leading a criminal enterprise involving 18 others to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Many of his co-defendants are also expected to turn themselves in soon, showcasing the scale of the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Trump already faces charges in two federal investigations, one for election theft and another for mishandling classified documents. Additionally, he awaits trial in Manhattan for a case related to a payment made to an adult film actress in 2016. The sheer number of open cases raises concerns about how the upcoming election year will play out, with prosecutors and judges juggling trial dates and Trump’s legal team seeking to postpone any resolution until after the November 2024 elections.
While Trump may attempt to use his executive powers to delay or dismiss his cases, this will not apply to the Georgia and Manhattan lawsuits due to the division of power between the states and the federal government. Consequently, Trump is likely to engage in legal battles to challenge the possibility of a sitting president being subject to state or local convictions.
Trump’s latest indictment in Georgia aligns with his narrative that he is being unfairly persecuted by the Biden administration. This narrative poses a dilemma for the upcoming election, as it raises questions about the potential erosion of trust in political and judicial institutions. The clash between legal requirements and public perception of Trump’s victimhood could significantly impact the outcome of the 2024 elections.
The Republican candidates vying for the nomination are also grappling with the shadow cast by Trump’s legal troubles. Trump’s absence from the debate in Milwaukee, despite his dominant lead in polls, demonstrates the difficulty his rivals face in capitalizing on his liabilities without alienating a significant portion of the GOP base that still supports him.
Republican candidates such as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson have criticized Trump’s actions and emphasized the need to address the events of January 6. However, their low polling numbers indicate that challenging Trump’s narrative is not resonating with primary voters.
Instead of participating in the debate, Trump plans to appear in an interview with Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host known for amplifying Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. This move reflects Trump’s desire to dominate the political discourse and divert attention away from his rivals.
The upcoming events surrounding Trump’s surrender and the first Republican debate illustrate the unique challenges faced by the 2024 presidential race. As Trump continues to navigate his legal battles, the impact on the Republican primary and the broader election remains uncertain.