Former President Donald Trump leaves after speaking at a campaign event Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Joe Biden has achieved a record of legislative successes unparalleled since Lyndon Johnson and has restored the confidence of our allies. It is good to have allies. As Churchill famously said: “There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” Trump antagonized almost every country on the face of the globe. And it takes a lot to piss off the Canadians. 

If the octogenarian Biden should falter (everyone is ghoulishly asking, “Suppose he dies or goes ga-ga?”), his replacement, Vice President Kamala Harris, polls lower than he does.  

The fractured GOP, with its seasoned governors and senators, could field a winning candidate in theory. But Republican voters are already rekindling their romances with Donald Trump. Most Americans reject his candidacy, which is why Republicans lost ground in 2018, 2020, and 2022. If he runs with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene…well, Democrats should be so lucky. She has praised Jack Teixeira, the airman IT specialist who leaked classified documents to his online gaming friends—and the world. (He also wanted to kill a “ton of people,” we learned this week.)  

Greene claimed that adoptive parents or parents through marriage aren’t real parents because they are “not biological.” Her ugly claim is legally untrue and politically untenable. As Representative Jamie Raskin put it: “What a grotesque insult to try to diminish their place, meaning, and love because they are not ‘biological.’” 

But the Republicans want Trump, and if you believe the polls, they want him overwhelmingly. Funders are pulling away from his principal rival, Ron DeSantis, who has overreached in his war on “woke” in Florida. After gutting abortion rights and prohibiting an advanced placement high school course on African American studies, DeSantis took on Disney, which is now suing him, alleging he “targeted” the company for political reasons. How do we know? Because DeSantis said so. After Disney criticized his “don’t say gay” education bill, DeSantis foolishly wrote a fundraising letter saying, “If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy.”  

The MAGA cult wants Trump and will not desert him for pale imitations. Perhaps that will change if more indictments are forthcoming, but it seems likely that further legal jeopardy would only strengthen Trump’s hand.  

He is facing one filed indictment, possibly more, as Georgia and Washington, D.C., prosecutors reach their decision points. The Constitution does not bar an indicted (even a convicted) candidate from seeking the presidency, and it does not even bar him from getting elected. Eugene Victor Debs famously ran for the presidency in 1920 from jail and garnered a million votes. This is because when the Founders approved the Constitution, they thought of the president as a George Washington, a man who would never tell a lie, not one incapable of telling the truth.  

Constitutional standards for qualification notwithstanding, how can Trump fight in the courts while he seeks votes? Then, there is the civil action for libel, where a New York jury of six men and three women may soon find that he raped journalist E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room some 17 years ago. Trump insists there was no encounter at all. “Didn’t happen,” he said. “She wasn’t my type.” His intemperate remarks only restarted the statute of limitations. Manhattan juries are not very MAGA-friendly. Before impaneling the jury, the judge asked, “How many of you have attended a Trump rally?” Not a soul answered. Then, he asked, “How many of you believe that Trump won the 2020 election?” Not a soul answered that one either.  

Should the jury find in Carroll’s favor, he will appeal. But even if he loses and must pay millions in damages? It will not dissuade his flock. As Trump said, he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue, and his supporters would still vote for him. 

Is Trump going to run on his record? That did not work in 2020. And we will continue to learn more about what catastrophes we just barely almost avoided while the New Yorker was in the Oval Office—for instance, firing missiles at drug cartels in Mexico in a way that would conceal the fact that the U.S. was responsible. Trump proposed an air strike on Iran and wanted to send 250,000 troops to the southern border to repel migrants. He got talked out of deploying 10,000 active-duty troops to Washington to intimidate the protesters of George Floyd’s murder, saying that the Army should go out and shoot protesters in the legs. 

If Trump is elected, he says he will end the war in Ukraine, probably on Putin’s terms, and refresh our relationship with China. He claims he admires the autocrats Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Trump says he will appoint more Supreme Court justices like Clarence Thomas, and he’s already nominated three new justices, more than any president since Richard Nixon. How many of us, like Thomas, know a billionaire who will buy and remodel a house for our elderly mothers or set up a foundation so our wives can get a six-figure salary? The Court has unanimously declined to adopt a binding judicial ethics code requiring the justices to “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities,” so why not add more Thomases? 

Then, there is General Michael Flynn, the disgraced former national security adviser who has embraced QAnon rhetoric. Trump has hinted that he will put Flynn in the cabinet even though he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, sought to vacate the conviction, and while legal challenges were pending, Trump pardoned him. 

Flynn wanted Trump to declare martial law in early January, an idea too outlandish even for the president who blessed the January 6 insurrection. Perhaps Republicans will come to their senses next year and nominate someone who is not facing multiple prosecutors and can win.  

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James D. Zirin

James D. Zirin, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, is the author of Supremely Partisan-How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the United States Supreme Court.