Cartoonish illustrations of three digital cards featuring Donald Trump in silly and exaggerated situations.
Design by Sara Fang.

Whether it’s felony indictments involving hush money, a civil suit surrounding a ’90s rape accusation or a new case involving his former personal attorney, there seems to be no end to the legal troubles former President Donald Trump is facing. Across the thousands of lawsuits over his decades-long career in the limelight, Trump seems to have perfected a legal strategy that protects him from any significant repercussions and openly encourages him to continue his antics with impunity. The tactics Trump and his team employ have, in most cases, allowed for him to walk away with minimal consequences and reinforced his mindset that he is above the law. All the while, any new Trump legal developments receive widespread media attention, keeping the former president in the spotlight while mounting his 2024 presidential campaign. 

After bursting onto the Republican presidential nomination scene in 2016, Trump’s boisterous, often-controversial and sometimes-criminal behavior was precisely what made him a constant hot-button topic and ensured the viability of his presidential campaign. His strategy regarding his approach to bad publicity — which was to embrace it — was exactly what set him apart from the traditional, much more seasoned politicians he was running against, baffling experts and opponents alike. In the end, Trump’s shocking triumph saw him securing the win in the 2016 presidential election over Democrat stalwart Hillary Clinton. 

One presidency and seven years later, Trump once again finds himself atop polls for the Republican nomination, and by a vastly greater margin than ever before. Simultaneously, declining approval ratings for President Biden (motivated largely by 68% of Americans believing the president is too old for another term) has led to both Trump and party rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seen as more preferable for the presidency in 2024. This, in conjunction with the greatest looming legal difficulties of Trump’s political career, makes Trump’s level of support even more astonishing. A pivotal finding in the same poll was that even though a majority believe Trump should face criminal charges, 18% of those who want him arrested for crimes related to the results of the 2020 election would still back him over Biden. Other polls see Biden beating DeSantis, but Trump again defeating both. Against all odds, Trump undoubtedly remains the center of gravity in American politics. 

Despite all legal challenges, his continued success is an exact condemnation of the system in which he continues to thrive. No president in history has faced so many legal hurdles while simultaneously maintaining significant support among his party. Where there should be widespread condemnation, many of his supporters continue to uphold the same rhetoric which has brought Trump so much success. In return, this “all or nothing” approach has left the Republican establishment with little alternative but to double down. DeSantis, other Republican presidential candidates and prominent GOP leadership like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remain significant opponents to Trump’s dominance of the party. Yet, even in DeSantis’ native Florida, Trump’s continued successes in the polls demonstrate that his reign is far from over. 

Trump’s veritable symphony of legal battles is the only major hurdle to his ascension to the Republican nomination. But these legal battles have not kept him from being the frontrunner thus far. This represents a significant dilemma for journalists. Mainstream media holds intense power in controlling public discourse and opinion, and even for more liberal of sources, Trump represents an irresistible ratings draw. Whether experiencing bad coverage or seldom coming across good coverage, Trump’s constant manipulations of mainstream media have made him an implacable mainstay on the airwaves and have continued to expand his reach. A 70-minute CNN town hall in which moderator Kaitlan Collins frequently attempted to interject with facts and corrections only to be thwarted by Trump and the raucous studio audience was an unexpected success for Trump, drawing the largest primetime viewership in months for the network. Deemed the number one enemy for the right in the realm of left-wing media, CNN’s scramble to expose Trump’s seemingly endless wellspring of scandals only leaves them more exposed to attack and distrust from himself and his supporters. With the 2024 election fast approaching, he has been given no reason by the media to alter his strategy, even as legal troubles close in from all sides. 

Even with the present onslaught of cases, Trump’s financial reserves seem to be far from dried up. At the dollar value, $5 million or $250 million are relatively insignificant numbers for a multibillionaire. However, the cases are absolutely significant. Consequently, Trump’s tried-and-true methods of defamation and deflection surrounding these cases may have finally caught up to him at the legal level; yet, they continue to be remarkable weapons to swoon gullible voters and distract the public from the facts of the case. This is especially apparent among Republican voters. By spreading the narrative that the “deep state” is out to get him and that these suits are politically motivated, Trump reinforces voters’ established distrust in people in power and the media. Strangely, such inquisitive viewpoints seem to bypass Trump, who by all definitions is also an incredibly wealthy and powerful person. 

This reality plays into a pattern in which Trump continues to finance his campaign operations by profiting directly off his most fervent supporters through ubiquitous merchandise. Spawned from an absurdly long legacy of failed Trump-branded products, his most recent endeavor, Trump Cards (a staggering $99 per card), are his attempt at pulling his supporters into a collapsing NFT market. Rapidly selling out both collections sold thus far, he made millions while the cards’ resale value plummeted on OpenSea. The announcement of the second collection in April was his first post on Instagram since his reinstatement on Meta’s platforms, an especially overt indicator of his priorities. 

Regardless of his continued support among his base throughout this chaotic period, Trump’s trademark offensive tactics targeted towards the judicial system and classifying his indictment as a “witch hunt” have hurt him significantly among moderate voters, according to recent polls. Democrats continue to overwhelmingly oppose him. This follows a midterm election which saw about 300 Trump-endorsed candidates experience mixed results in contested elections. While many of these candidates failed or succeeded on their own merits, Trump failed to conjure up the red wave he foresaw to tear across the nation. 

If Trump somehow manages to escape criminal charges and keep his election hopes alive until 2024, the race will undoubtedly be a much different scenario than the 2022 midterms or 2020 presidential election. Even considering his overwhelming support among Republicans and his chances to defeat incumbent Biden in 2024, DeSantis, the judicial system and Biden still have rich opportunities to thwart him. With more than a year before the election, we surely haven’t seen the last of Donald Trump’s antics. No matter what happens in November 2024, it will be the American public which makes the final decision.

Maximilian Schenke is an Opinion Columnist who is passionate about international politics and how they affect us locally, but often writes about national politics as well. He loves receiving criticism or otherwise at