Donald Trump’s Very Good Week

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Written By Pinang Driod

Donald Trump has often seemed to succeed in politics in spite of difficulty and disaster. Over the past week, something different has been happening: Everything seems to be going Trump’s way.

Tuesday’s electoral results provided a perfect cap. Trump has now wrapped up the Republican nomination, with Nikki Haley exiting the race this morning. She departed after Trump won 14 of last night’s contests, losing only in Vermont. In every other state, he won by double-digit margins; in Alaska, he captured three-quarters of the vote. In a terrifying turn for the nation, the only thing that stands between him and the White House now is Joe Biden.

Trump’s victory has seemed inevitable for months; Haley never stood a real chance of beating him. Perhaps the largest effect of her campaign was hinting at a submerged weakness for the Trump reelection effort. Haley was able to win sizable minorities in many states, but Trump got some good news on that front this week. Analyzing a new poll from his outlet, the New York Times data guru Nate Cohn argued that Haley’s strength is largely due to support from voters who backed Biden in 2020, including Democrats who chose to vote in open Republican primaries—not a winnowing of Trump’s base.

“They call it Super Tuesday for a reason,” Trump said last night at Mar-A-Lago. “This is a big one. And they tell me, the pundits and otherwise, that there’s never been one like this. There’s never been anything so conclusive. This was an amazing night, an amazing day. It’s been an incredible period of time in our country’s history.”

Super Tuesday’s romp was really just the culmination of a super week for Trump. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, despite his role in instigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Trump is eligible for the ballot in November. Officials in three states—Colorado, Maine, and Illinois—had ruled he was disqualified under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, but the justices said states have no power to remove presidential candidates under that provision. The ruling also closed most avenues under which Trump might be disqualified later, too. That dispenses with one big threat to his candidacy.

And that was his second favor from the high court in days. Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court surprised some legal observers by agreeing to hear arguments over whether Trump, as a former president, ought to be immune from prosecution for his efforts to subvert the 2020 election after he lost. Federal judges at both the trial and appeals level had resoundingly rejected those arguments. Even if Trump’s argument fares just as poorly with the justices, their decision to hear it at all—and not until late April—will delay the start of his trial in connection with the paperwork coup. A criminal conviction is one of the few things that polling suggests might reduce Trump’s support in November, but with each postponement of that trial, the chances that Trump will see a verdict before voters must render theirs gets smaller.

Trump also received encouraging signs in the other federal case against him, in which he’s charged with obstruction and mishandling of sensitive information related to classified documents he hoarded. That case was filed in Florida, and Trump was lucky to draw Aileen Cannon, a green judge he appointed, to oversee it. On Friday, Cannon indicated she was skeptical that prosecutors’ desire to start a trial in July was feasible, thanks to the case’s complicated nature.

Last week also saw Mitch McConnell announce his decision to step down as GOP leader in the Senate, followed by a tepid endorsement of Trump this morning. As I wrote recently, McConnell was the sole high-profile Republican still willing to resist Trump in even a minimal way. The Kentuckian was unwilling to make the effort to end Trump’s political career after January 6, when he could have done so, but his criticism of Trump led to a deep rift between the two men. His departure is an acknowledgment that Trump holds sway over the Senate Republican caucus going forward.

With Super Tuesday in the rearview mirror, the general election between Trump and Biden has practically begun. The former president enters the race in a surprisingly strong position for someone who has twice lost the popular vote, faces 91 felony charges, and tried to steal the last presidential election. The same New York Times poll mentioned earlier showed Trump leading Biden 48–44. The number of voters who believe Trump committed crimes has dropped in the same poll. The New Republic reports that most voters remain unaware of some of Trump’s most unhinged recent statements, of which there are many.

The Biden campaign and other Democrats are eager to try to spotlight these weaknesses as the general election gets going. Trump has other problems looming too, including hundreds of millions of dollars he owes in civil judgments against him. For now, however, Trump is in the catbird seat.

David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

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