May 26, 2024

Donald Trump is now under indictment in four different jurisdictions over three different controversies.

He faces 91 felony charges in New York, Atlanta, Miami and Washington, DC.

He’s charged with covering up hush money to a porn star, making off with classified documents after leaving office and committing a variety of frauds on state and federal governments in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Some of these charges are bogus.

The New York case, which amounts to accusing Trump of lying to his own checkbook, is the weakest of the bunch.

Others are excessive and overzealous.

Many, if not all, are driven by partisan politics and animus towards Trump.

Even the strongest case, about the boxes of classified documents, involves charges similar to things that Hillary Clinton got away with.

If we’re judging the prosecutors and the charges, these things all matter.

But when Republican primary voters are deciding whom they should nominate to run for president against Joe Biden, the only proper response to complaints about the fairness of indicting Trump should be:

So what?

Fulton County DA Fani Willis speaking at a press conference after the indictment against Trump and 18 of his allies were announced on August 14, 2023.
REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Nominating Trump again would be a disaster for Republicans.

The criminal charges are one of the biggest reasons why. Even if you think that’s unfair, it’s reality.

Criminal defendants make bad candidates.

As the old saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag. People lose elections for unfair reasons all the time.

If you want to win, you don’t just ignore problems you think are unfair.

Trump still has his strengths as a politician: He’s universally famous, he’s funny, he has devoted fans, he can run on memories of a better economy before 2020, and he’s not afraid to be unfair himself.

But even before the criminal charges, he was deeply hated by half the country and disliked by a lot more than half. He already lost to Biden once, and that was before January 6.

Opinion polls continue to show large majorities of Americans want nothing to do with what happened that day.

He’s also 77 years old, which makes it hard for him to make a case against the 80-year-old Biden’s age.

Now, on top of all that, he’s an accused felon and could be a convicted one by Election Day. He’ll be in and out of courtrooms for months, instead of campaigning.

Trump supporters at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on August 12, 2023.
Trump supporters at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on August 12, 2023.
REUTERS/Scott Morgan

He’s spending, by some accounts, as much as half the money he raises on legal defenses instead of on running campaign ads or getting the vote out.

That will get worse: Trials are really expensive, and Trump has at least five of them coming (if you include the New York attorney general’s civil-fraud suit).

Because Trump’s campaign is spending more than it takes in, he’d need a bailout from the Republican National Committee so his campaign doesn’t go broke.

The 91 felony charge Trump faces will distract from his 2024 presidential campaign if he is the Republican nominee, according to Post columnist Dan McLaughlin.
The 91 felony charge Trump faces will distract from his 2024 presidential campaign if he is the Republican nominee, according to Post columnist Dan McLaughlin.

That’s more donor money wasted, and it will hurt Republicans running for every other office.

The indictments will also keep Trump focused on talking about the 2020 election, which will keep Jan. 6 on everyone’s mind and make it harder to talk about the economy, the border, schools, China or Joe Biden’s woke social policies.

Trump’s legal problems will continue to push the Hunter Biden scandals out of the news and give Joe’s defenders an easy way to say “Trump is worse.”

American voters who aren’t committed Republicans will see all this and turn away from the guy who is always on television defending charges that he’s a criminal.

I know the response: Trump’s defenders will say that if Republicans let these indictments choose their candidate, every future campaign will feature criminal charges aimed at picking the Republican nominee.

That’s not really true — Trump did a lot to make his own messes — but even if it were, it doesn’t change the reality that Trump is damaged goods and a different candidate would have a better chance to win and put a stop to it.

In fact, nominating Trump just to get “retribution” (as he says) for these indictments still means letting the indictments decide the nomination.

And that’s what many Democrats want because they think Trump is easier to beat.

In 2022, Democrats spent more than $53 million boosting Republican candidates who ran on Trump’s claims the 2020 election was stolen.

Most of those candidates won their nominations, as Republican primary voters fell for the trap. Every single one of them lost in November.

Republican voters shouldn’t fall for it again.

Trump’s problems are only going to get worse from here. Republicans don’t need to make those problems their own.