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Past Trump scandals haven’t moved public opinion. An indictment likely wouldn’t, either

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Speculation Grows Over Possible Indictment Of Former President Donald Trump
Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather near an entrance to his Mar-a-Lago home on Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

If it’s MONDAY… China’s Xi meets with Vladimir Putin in Russia… Robert Costello, former adviser to ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen, testifies before New York grand jury examining hush-money case against Trump… Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., says Fed Chair Jerome Powell has “failed”… The “Ted Lasso” cast visits the White House at 3:15 pm ET to discuss mental health… And it’s the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war.

But FIRST… As the political world — including former President Donald Trump — braces for a possible indictment in New York of the Republican, here’s a reminder from our past NBC News polls that previous controversies and legal actions against Trump have barely moved the political needle.

Especially among Republicans.

After Jan. 6

Immediately after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, our NBC News poll (conducted Jan. 10-13) found Trump’s favorability rating at 40% positive, 53% negative among all voters (it was 43% positive, 52% negative before the election). 

Among Republicans, Trump’s favorability rating was 86% positive, 9% negative (it was 91% positive, 7% negative before the election). 

Additionally, 50% of all voters in that Jan. 2021 NBC News said Congress should impeach Trump for his actions on Jan. 6, while 48% said no — almost identical to the 2020 popular vote between Biden and Trump (51%-47%). Among Republican voters, just 8% said Trump should be impeached, versus 90% who said no. 

After the Aug. 2022 Mar-a-Lago search

Our NBC News poll also found little movement in Trump’s numbers after the Aug. 2022 FBI search for classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. 

In the May 2022 NBC News poll — conducted well before the FBI search — Trump’s favorability rating was 36% positive, 51% negative among all respondents (and 72% positive, 13% negative among Republicans). 

In our Aug. 2022 poll — taken right after the search — Trump’s numbers were 36% positive, 54% negative (73% positive, 15% negative among Republicans). 

And in Sept. 2022 — one month later — Trump’s numbers were essentially the same: 34% positive, 54% negative (67% positive, 16% negative among Republicans). 

Bottom line: Public opinion on Trump has barely budged, no matter the controversy he’s facing. 

Then again, that overall public opinion has been mostly negative outside of Republicans.

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is ... 20

That’s how many years it’s been since the American-led invasion of Iraq, which became one of the defining geopolitical sagas of the 21st Century. 

The war started on March 20, 2003.

Twenty years later, over 2,000 American troops are still in Iraq, scattered around the country. They are a reminder of the two decades in which 4,600 U.S. troops died in the war and an additional 200,000 Iraqi civilians perished, according to the New York Times.

Other numbers to know:

$3.2 billion: The amount for which Swiss bank UBS is buying another Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, after its shares fell sharply on Friday.

150 million: The number of active TikTok users in the U.S., the company’s CEO plans to tell Congress in testimony this week.

500 miles: The distance that a short-range ballistic missile launched from North Korea traveled on Sunday, the nation’s neighbors reported. 

9: The number of South Carolina Republican legislators who have stepped down from co-sponsoring a bill that would allow women to be prosecuted for homicide after they undergo an abortion.

$76 million: The amount of money that’s been spent so far this year on political TV ads that don’t expressly support or oppose a candidate, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.

384 points: The amount by which the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell on Friday, sliding down 1.19% over concerns about the U.S. banking sector. 

$200,000: The amount the FBI is offering in ransom for a great-grandmother who was kidnapped while living in Mexico in February.

Eyes on 2024: What the GOP field is saying about a possible Trump indictment

The political world is buzzing about a potential Trump indictment — so it’s worth keeping track of how his current and potential GOP presidential rivals are responding as they try to win supporters in a party that’s been remade in Trump’s image

Former Vice President Mike Pence told ABC News that it would be “a politically charged prosecution” if the Manhattan district attorney’s office goes through with an indictment. 

New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told CNN that potential charges are “building a lot of sympathy for the former president.” Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie echoed a similar line, told ABC that Trump “only profits and does well in chaos and turmoil.”

And businessman Vivek Ramaswamy used the news to defend Trump and argue that the “silence from the rest of the GOP field is deafening.”

It’s that last point that’s worth underlining. As supporters and elected GOP officials rally to Trump’s defense, the non-responses from the likes of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Ambassador Nikki Haley are notable.

And it’s something that Trump’s allies are certainly agitating about — his super PAC sent out an email this Sunday saying that “conservatives are paying attention to who is staying silent right now.” And the New York Times reports key Trump allies are leaning on DeSantis specifically to speak up. 

In other campaign news…

Midwest roots: NBC News’ Henry Gomez dove deep into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ family roots among the former steel mills in Ohio.

More on DeSantis at Guantanamo: The latest story about DeSantis’ time serving at the Guantanamo Bay detention center from the Washington Post reports on how the future governor advised on force-feeding detainees who were on a hunger strike. 

Trump to Texas: The Trump campaign announced on Friday that the former president will hold his first rally of the 2024 campaign on Saturday in Waco, Texas. 

Push to the right: Groups that oppose abortion rights are planning to pressure GOP presidential candidates to back federal restrictions on abortion, per the Washington Post. 

Florida men: NBC News’ Scott Wong and Ali Vitali report on how Trump and DeSantis are looming over the House GOP’s retreat in Orlando this week. 

Haley’s historic bid: The Washington Post reports on how Haley is “seeking to accentuate her differences from White male candidates and offer reassurances that they are not impediments.”

Buckeye State buzz: Ohio could once again play host to a contested GOP Senate primary, with Republican businessman Bernie Moreno, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Rep. Warren Davidson weighing challenges against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, per NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez. Moreno and state Sen. Matt Dolan, who jumped in the race in January, also ran unsuccessfully for Senate last year. 

Top Chicago Democrat chooses a side: Democratic Rep. Chuy García endorsed Brandon Johnson in the city’s mayoral runoff, as the Wall Street Journal reports on how both candidates are trying to win over the city’s Hispanic voters

On the airwaves: Conservative Justice Daniel Kelly’s campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is out with its first campaign ad of the general election, featuring law enforcement officials from around the state pledging their support for Kelly. So far, the campaign has spent $54,000 to air the ad, but it has reserved over $100,000 of additional airtime through Election Day, April 4, per AdImpact.

Targeting vulnerable House Democrats: The American Action Network (AAN), a conservative group, is out with TV ads in 12 House districts across the U.S., urging voters to voice their support for H.R. 1, according to a release. H.R. 1 is a signature GOP bill that would restrict states’ ability to block certain projects, like pipelines, and would cut down the time to approve certain energy and mining projects, among other proposals.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with war crimes in Ukraine.

Wyoming GOP Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday signed a bill prohibiting abortion pills in the state.

Amid a mega-drought, some Utahns worry the state government isn’t doing enough to replenish the Great Salt Lake.