Donald Trump’s legal troubles continue to cast a shadow over his campaign, with a potential indictment looming in a case involving hush-money payments made to an adult film star who said she had an affair with Trump.
The former president’s team is preparing to go on offense if he is indicted, targeting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and painting an indictment as “part of a coordinated offensive by the Democratic Party,” the New York Times reports. Trump’s spokesman Stephen Cheung previewed that strategy, saying in a Thursday night statement, “If the Democrats can do this to President Trump, they can do it to you.”
“Americans will not tolerate Radical Left Democrats turning our justice system into an injustice system to influence a presidential election, which is all they want to do,” Cheung later added.
Trump has said he would stay in the race if he is indicted. It remains to be seen if his current and potential rivals will pressure him to drop out.
“It’s a free country, everybody can make their own decision,” former Vice President Mike Pence, who hasn’t jumped in the race yet, told reporters in New Hampshire Thursday night when asked if Trump should step aside if indicted, per NBC News’ Emily Gold, Megan Lebowitz and Christopher Cicchiello.
Trump, meanwhile, is making a forward-looking pitch to voters, NBC News’ Allan Smith and Jonathan Allen report. He’s laying out a slew of policy proposals called “Agenda47” that “mixes new, recast and recycled planks — some of which simply didn’t get much attention in the last election — to give his campaign a fresher look,” they write.
In other campaign news…
There’s more: The hush-money case isn’t Trump’s only legal headache. News broke on Thursday that a special grand jury in Georgia investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election heard a previously unreported phone call between Trump and then-Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. And the Washington Post reports Friday that prosecutors investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have obtained a report commissioned by Trump’s campaign that undercut his falsehoods about the election.
No longer a hawk: NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez, Phil McCausland and Jonathan Allen explore Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ evolution on defense issues.
Harris takes on DeSantis: Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Ron DeSantis’ recent comments that the war in Ukraine is a “territorial dispute,” telling the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, “If you really understand the issues, you probably would not make statements like that.”
Sunshine divide: Florida’s 20 Republican House members are “clearly wary of choosing sides” between Trump and DeSantis, Politico reports.
Setting a date: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told the Washington Examiner he’d decide whether he’ll join the Republican presidential primary field in the next two months.
Mayer may run: Republican businessman Scott Mayer tells WisPolitics.com that he is considering running for Senate against Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Mayer said he isn’t sure if he’s willing to spend his own money, noting he would likely have to spend between $10 and $20 million on the race.
Santos mulls re-election: New York GOP Rep. George Santos told the Associated Press he is a “maybe” on running for re-election.
Sparks fly in the Windy city: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson in Chicago’s mayoral race on Thursday. The same day, Johnson and his opponent, former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, sparred at a debate where each candidate was allowed to ask the other a question.