Trump Back in Court on Eve of Expected New Hampshire Triumph
Donald Trump, the former U.S. president, has returned to court for his sexual assault defamation trial in New York. This comes on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, where he is expected to secure a victory over Nikki Haley, his last remaining challenger for the Republican presidential nomination. Despite facing multiple criminal cases and two impeachment charges, Trump’s far-right brand remains popular within the Republican party.
According to a recent Washington Post/Monmouth poll, Trump currently enjoys 52 percent support in New Hampshire, while Haley trails behind at 34 percent. Haley, the former Governor of South Carolina, is now the sole challenger after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race. However, unless she manages a political miracle, Trump is poised to repeat his victory in the Iowa caucus and secure the nomination to face President Joe Biden in the upcoming November election.
Rather than downplay his legal troubles, Trump has embraced them and turned his court appearances into quasi-campaign events. He portrays each trial as part of a Democratic-establishment conspiracy to prevent his return to the White House for a second term. While this message mainly resonates with hard-core Republican right-wingers, it remains crucial for securing the Republican nomination. Thus, Trump has chosen to attend his defamation trial in New York instead of focusing solely on campaigning in New Hampshire.
In the ongoing defamation trial, E. Jean Carroll, a well-known writer, is seeking more than $10 million in damages from Trump for defaming her. Another New York civil jury has already found Trump liable for sexually assaulting Carroll. In addition to civil cases, Trump also faces serious criminal charges, including allegations of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, Haley has launched sharp attacks on her former boss, citing his stumbling speeches as evidence of declining mental competence. She also points to the chaos that often follows Trump. Haley hopes to appeal to the less-partisan voters in New Hampshire, in contrast to the heavily conservative Republican base in Iowa. However, with DeSantis dropping out and endorsing Trump, it seems increasingly challenging for Haley to derail the scandal-plagued businessman’s campaign.
Over the weekend, Trump labeled Haley a “globalist,” a powerful insult for the isolationist, nationalist far-right movement that he has encouraged throughout his political career. In contrast to Trump’s America-first rhetoric and calls to reconsider historic alliances and NATO membership, Haley adheres to a more traditional, hawkish Republican foreign policy.
If Haley manages to exceed expectations in the New Hampshire primary, she might regain momentum just in time for the South Carolina primary in late February, which is her home state. However, by then, Trump could be well on his way to a coronation, with “Super Tuesday” on March 5, offering a significant number of delegates and potentially launching him three-quarters of the way toward securing the nomination.
Trump’s aides expect him to effectively close out the race by April at the latest, likely before any of his criminal trials begin.