Us Election 2024: Despite a puerile display in court in the New York fraud case, Trump outpolls Biden, whose impressive record isn’t translating into support.
One has signed historic climate and infrastructure legislation, steered the economy past a recession and rallied the west against Vladimir Putin. The other spent Monday on trial for fraud ranting and raving against a judge in a puerile display from the witness stand.
Us Election 2024, And if a presidential election were held today, Joe Biden would lose to Donald Trump by a lot, according to the latest swing state polls.
Donald Trump being questioned by Kevin Wallace of the New York attorney general’s office, as seen in a court sketch.
Us Election 2024: Trump fraud trial testimony what we learned so far
Us Election 2024, Maybe it’s the pandemic, or inflation, or tribalism, but it is increasingly hard to deny that something strange and perverse is happening in American politics.
Since Biden took office the US economy has added a record 14m jobs while his list of legislative accomplishments has earned some comparisons with those of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Yet in a recent Gallup poll the 80-year-old’s overall approval rating was just 37%.
Us Election 2024, Trump, meanwhile, is facing 91 criminal indictments in Atlanta, Miami, New York and Washington DC, some of which relate to an attempted to overthrow the US government. Yet the 77-year-old is running away with a Republican primary election from which Mike Pence, the vice-president who opposed the coup, made an ignominious early exit.
On Monday Trump was in court for a New York civil business fraud case in which he has already been fined $15,000 for twice violating a limited gag order that prevents him from criticising court staff.
Us Election 2024, The case threatens to tear down the Trump Organisation, revealing that the emperor has no clothes. Voters do not seem to care. People in swing state voters say they trust Trump over Biden on the economy by a 22-point margin, 59% to 37%, according to this weekend’s poll from the New York Times and Siena College.
The same poll showed Trump beating Biden in five of the six most important battleground states exactly a year before the presidential election, although if Trump were to be convicted of criminal charges against him, some of his support would erode by about 6%.
Us Election 2024, Conventional wisdom used to hold that Trump’s myriad legal woes would help in the Republican primary and hurt him in the presidential election. Now even that no longer seems certain as Trump appears politically bulletproof and Democrats sweat over the disconnect between Biden’s record and his flagging numbers.
It seems no event or behavior in court hurts those dynamics. In the sober trappings of a Manhattan courtroom, Trump’s belligerent, boorish conduct was thrown into sharper relief than at his knockabout political rallies. Trump repeatedly clashed with Judge Arthur Engoron, prompting him to warn that he might remove the ex-president from the witness stand if he did not answer questions directly.
Us Election 2024, As if pleading with parents to discipline an unruly child, the judge entreated Trump’s lawyers: “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”
Engoron added: “This is not a political rally. This is a courtroom.”
Us Election 2024, It was a telling observation, given the way in which Trump has consciously and deliberately conflated his court appearances with his 2024 election campaign, frequently addressing reporters in the hallway. The mountain of legal troubles that would end most candidacies have turned into a USP of his White House run.
There is no better symbol of this than the mugshot taken in August when Trump surrendered and was booked at the Fulton county jail in Atlanta. For any other politician, it would be career-ending; for any other citizen, a badge of shame. For Trump, however, it has become a valuable to asset to slap on campaign merchandise, make money and rally the base.
Again, on Monday, Trump knew well that his courtroom antics would grab media attention. He told reporters: “So while Israel is being attacked, while Ukraine is being attacked, while inflation is eating our country alive, I’m down here.
Get all the latest updates from court as Trump faces several criminal cases, starting later this year.
“These are all political opponent attack ads by the Biden administration, their poll numbers are terrible. The New York Times came back with a poll that I’m leading all over the place, but it’s a very unfair situation.”
Us Election 2024, He whined petulantly: “I’m sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me. This is a very unfair trial, very, very unfair and I hope the public is watching.”
He rambled, hurled insults, boasted about his properties and his wealth and questioned the motivations of the Democratic New York attorney general, Letitia James, who brought the case and is seeking $250m in fines. He said: “This is a political witch-hunt and I think she should be ashamed of herself.”
Us Election 2024, As a distraction technique, it worked. Neal Katyal, a lawyer who has argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “Everyone is talking about his temper tantrums, instead of talking about his commissions of fraud and that he is a cheat. He’s already lost the merits of the case, so this is his best play.”
It was a show of impunity from a man who demonstrated on 6 January 2021 that rules and rituals mean nothing to him. Few of Trump’s critics doubt that he would burn democracy down given half the chance.
Us Election 2024, But Trump also acknowledged that his company did not provide accurate estimates of the value of apartment towers, golf courses and other assets. New York state lawyers said those values were pumped up to win better financing terms, and Engoron has already ruled that they were fraudulent.
Trump emerged from court after five hours of testimony into his happy place: a barrage of camera flashes, live coverage on the cable news network’s CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, a chance to talk about his poll numbers. Anyone traumatised by the 2016 election might be suffering flashbacks.
Us Election 2024, “I think it’s a very sad day for America,” said Trump, channeling grievance, resentment and victimhood as only he can. The polls suggest these are most potent forces in politics right now. Biden has a year to find the antidote.