A Conclusion for Trump That Is Harder to Spin 2023

Trump supporters rallied when Alvin L. Bragg indicted former President Donald J. Trump. That indictment, according to supporters of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, was the moment Mr. Trump pulled ahead in the polls.

After E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit jury ruled Mr. Trump responsible for sexual assault and slander on Tuesday, no one around him is predicting a similar consequence.

The jury ordered Mr. Trump to pay Ms. Carroll $5 million, a finding he plans to fight. He may not suffer a political price. The ruling enraged Mr. Trump, who questioned his defense team’s actions. His staff will aggressively attack Ms. Carroll and tie her to Democrats.

There is no way the civil trial’s outcome was good for his major mission, the Republican presidential campaign he leads.

Mr. Trump’s decades-long history of crass and sexist statements and frequent charges of sexual harassment and assault would have doomed any other contender. However, most Republicans have ignored the claims against a famous former president while voting.

Comments and allegations are not jury verdicts.

On Wednesday night, he will face around 400 Republican or Republican-leaning independent voters in a CNN town hall in New Hampshire.

“Americans heard with their own ears in 2016 Trump brag on tape about sexual assault and still elected him,” said former Obama adviser David Axelrod. Will this be different, or will his followers just reject it as another politically driven ‘deep state’ beat-down of which he claims to be the victim?”

A few backers of Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Trump’s closest Republican primary foe, expected this case to be different from his many past problems.

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Senators John Kennedy of Louisiana and John Thune of South Dakota mostly ignored reporters’ questions. Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville publicly supported him.

“It makes me want to vote for him twice,” Mr. Tuberville told The Huffington Post. “People are going to see through the lines,” he said, adding, “a New York jury, he had no chance.”

Mr. Trump’s opponents were also reluctant to criticize him. One Republican contender, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, published a comment.

“Over my over 25 years in the courtroom, I have seen firsthand how a cavalier and arrogant contempt for the rule of law can backfire,” the statement stated. “The jury verdict should be taken seriously as another example of Donald Trump’s indefensible behavior.”

“I just don’t think the American people are focused,” former Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News.

Mr. Trump has always portrayed himself as invincible, implying that his opponents shouldn’t even try. Encouraged by his polling advantage and Mr. DeSantis’s blunders, he approached the 2024 Republican race similarly. Still, some of his detractors and even friends admit that the legal battles might become too much for him.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have extensively surveyed primary voters regarding the judicial proceedings.

Before discussions, Mr. Trump’s aides were anxious. One said privately that while they were happy Mr. Trump was acquitted of rape, the jury’s judgment was “not good.”

Mr. Trump and his backers may find it tougher to portray him as the victim of a “deep state” scheme by his government opponents and prosecutors. A federal jury of six men and three women ruled that Ms. Carroll, a writer who was pictured with Mr. Trump in New York but whom he denies knowing, was sexually abused.

The trial’s filmed deposition hurt Mr. Trump. People close to him admit the statements were self-inflicted and know Democrats may use them in television commercials targeting independent and suburban voters Mr. Trump long ago alienated.

When Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, asked him in his deposition if he indicated on the “Access Hollywood” tape that stars may grab women by the genitals, he delved into that audio.

“If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” Mr. Trump remarked. “Mostly true. Sadly or happily.”

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