Former President Donald Trump will surrender to face criminal charges
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It is not a day to drive into Manhattan. Several New York City streets will close as former President Trump heads downtown. He's going to surrender to authorities, give fingerprints, go into court, face an indictment on criminal charges. He is accused of covering up payments to an adult film star. He will be escorted from Trump Tower to the courthouse by the Secret Service. This has never happened before. Nothing like this has happened before. NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is following the politics of this moment. And when we spoke earlier this morning, we began by talking about how this affects Trump.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, look, I - you know, we've seen this show before with Trump. You know, he's impeached twice. It didn't really change anything. Not much moves the needle, really, when it comes to Trump's base, and he's trying to capitalize here. He's been raising money off of this. His campaign says Trump has raised more than $7 million in the few days after the indictment. He's predictably making a pretty big show of it. You know, he's - he is fighting a media request to have a camera in the courtroom because we know Trump in front of a crowd is much different than Trump at a court proceeding.
But he is scheduled to speak later tonight, as you said. And most lawyers, you know, will tell their clients to stay quiet. Don't say anything that could hurt the case. That's not Trump. This is what he does. And let me read to you from my dog-eared copy of Trump's "Art Of The Deal." And it says, from a bottom-line business perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all.
INSKEEP: (Laughter) Not a maxim he invented. Many people have said that. But he follows it, it would seem. How are Republicans reacting to this bad publicity?
MONTANARO: It's really put them in a box. You know, Trump has really gotten them to line up lockstep behind him. Republicans on Capitol Hill mostly blasted this New York prosecutor. They're echoing Trump's language that this is politically motivated. Now, it's not everyone in the Republican Party. We've seen a thin slice speak out against Trump but very few. You know, we had one new candidate get in the race who denounced Trump, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. He says the criminal investigations against Trump, when taken together, are very serious and that Trump should not be running. Here he is talking to ABC News.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS")
ASA HUTCHINSON: Those are three very serious investigations. You might say one of them doesn't showcase anything. But when you look at all three of them combined, it should give Americans pause.
MONTANARO: You know, but he's pretty few and far between in the Republican Party. You know, these are three entities conducting four investigations - you know, this one in New York, two by the federal government, one in Georgia related to Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But take this for context about how Trump is doing with Republicans. Sarah Longwell is a Republican pollster. She runs these focus groups of Republican voters, and she found, for the first time this past week, that no one in the focus group said that they would vote for DeSantis - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis - over Trump. So Trump really does appear to be strengthening his grip on the base.
INSKEEP: That is a wow, since we've heard so many Trump voters who have said, I love the former president, but we need to move on. We need somebody fresh. Now they're back on Trump.
MONTANARO: Definitely. And, you know, look, the fact is here that he is really been able to take some of these investigations that he's called witch hunts and, you know, use them to be able to strengthen his grip on the Republican base. But, you know, with independents and Democrats, it's a totally different story. We're seeing this very unique sort of American political divergence where you have 8 in 10 Republicans say they like Trump, three-quarters of Republicans say that he should be president again. But 6 in 10 people overall say that he should not be. You know, and on the trail, Trump's Republican rivals - really not using this as an opportunity. It could be one for a skilled and talented politician who can make the argument, but we haven't seen that emerge yet.
INSKEEP: NPR's Domenico Montanaro, thanks so much.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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