In Trump’s closing argument in New Hampshire, he sounds a lot like his lawyers

But in Iowa earlier this month and in New Hampshire in recent days, Trump increasingly has brought his courtroom travails onto the campaign trail, peppering his rallies with legally themed diatribes laced with Trumpian flourishes that even his attorneys won’t echo.

It’s a clear recognition that his fate in the courtroom is inextricable from his fate as a candidate.
Polls suggest
that a sizable segment of voters would be less likely to support him if he were convicted of crimes. At the same time, his fate as a defendant may be tied to his performance in the campaign — and whether he can get elected president before a jury delivers a verdict on his alleged transgressions.

For example, Trump used a Saturday rally in New Hampshire to opine at length on his legal argument that he is immune from charges for attempting to subvert the 2020 election. It was a crude version of the case his lawyers
made to a federal appeals court
earlier this month, when they conceded presidents could be prosecuted under some circumstances — such as after they were impeached and convicted by Congress.

But Trump erased the nuance, instead calling for “full and total immunity” for all presidents. He even contended that World War II might not have ended had Harry Truman feared being prosecuted for dropping atomic bombs on Japan. In court, Trump’s lawyers made similar arguments about prior presidents, saying that without immunity Barack Obama could be prosecuted for a drone strike that killed two American citizens or that George W. Bush could be charged for the distorted intelligence he used to lead the nation to war in Iraq — though notably Trump’s example about Truman was not among them.

“Hiroshima, not exactly a nice act, but it did end the Second World War, probably. Right?” Trump said to a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire. “Nagasaki, he wouldn’t be doing that. He’d say, I don’t want to do that because my opponents will indict me. You have to give a president full and total immunity.”

Yet despite the threat of conviction, Trump’s campaign has an oddly symbiotic relationship with the four criminal cases against him. His team sends out real-time fundraising pitches linked to his appearances in court, and even incremental updates to the proceedings.

“I’m in court right now!” read a Jan. 17 pitch.

“Thrown out of court?” read another, shortly after a federal judge threatened to remove a muttering Trump from his ongoing defamation trial.

His campaign has also sent updates on filings it has submitted in various criminal cases, as well as procedural victories in the litigation brought against him by petitioners seeking to remove him from the 2024 ballot for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The intersection is likely to sharpen further should Trump triumph in New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday and become, effectively, the GOP’s presumptive nominee. That would free up time and money to focus on his crowded legal schedule while preparing for the general election.

Though judges have been loath to consider the political calendar when setting court dates and scheduling Trump’s myriad trials, it will be hard to ignore the likelier it appears that Trump is the certain GOP nominee in 2024.

In recognition of that reality, Trump has begun sprinkling his stump speeches with direct pressure on Republican-appointed judges, who he says have a tendency to “go overboard” to be fair to Democrats.

“Republicans, they want to show that they can’t be bought, that the fact that you put them there and made their lives, took them from someplace where they were doing quite well, but you know what, they want to go out of their way to be politically correct,” Trump told the Manchester rallygoers. “They cannot worry about political correctness anymore.”

That echoed an argument he made at a Jan. 13 town hall in Iowa, when he said Republican judges who “go out of their way to show that they’re not influenced or they’re not biased or that they’re fair” are “really hurting our country.”

That message to potentially friendly judges (and justices) adds to a longtime staple of Trump’s campaign rhetoric: vilifying the prosecutors who secured his four criminal indictments, several Democratic-appointed judges presiding over his criminal and civil cases and Justice Department or FBI leaders. Special counsel Jack Smith, who brought two of the four criminal cases against Trump, secured a gag order against Trump intended to limit his ability to harass line prosecutors and court staff who have sometimes drawn his fury — and the torrent of threats that often follows.

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