Former President Donald Trump has already highly capitalized off his recent indictment in Georgia.
- On Thursday, Trump turned himself in at the Fulton County Jail to be booked on felony charges. He was fingerprinted, his mug shot was taken, and he was released within 20 minutes of arriving.
- Shortly after, Trump posted on his Twitter account for the first time in two and a half years with his mugshot, saying, “Election Interference: Never Surrender!”
- On Saturday, a spokesperson said the Trump campaign raised $4.18 million in one day, becoming the highest-grossing day of the campaign.
- Politico reported Sunday that the Trump campaign’s newly launched mugshot merchandise had already grossed $7 million in sales in three days.
- Coffee mugs, T-shirts, koozies, shot glasses, and bumper stickers with the mugshot saying “Never Surrender” are among the thousands of official and unofficial postings that have appeared online since Thursday—being purchased by fans and critics alike.
Why It’s News
Trump’s ongoing indictments could become a problem next year at the height of the 2024 presidential election in May. He has been arrested four times since March and faces multiple criminal trials and civil lawsuits throughout 2024. These arrests have deeply galvanized his base of supporters, leading them to believe that he is being falsely persecuted and skyrocketing his approval as the GOP frontrunner in the primaries.
This weekend’s high merchandise sales show that a sizable portion of Republican voters are willing to follow Trump wherever he takes them, as demonstrated last week during the debates. The Fox News debate in Milwaukee averaged 12.8 million viewers, while Trump’s softball interview with Tucker Carlson on X.com received 261.5 million impressions—meaning people who watched the video for at least two seconds. This may not broadly reflect who viewed the entire interview, but Trump still bragged publicly about receiving more than 200 million viewers.
“What has taken place here is a travesty of justice. We did nothing wrong at all, and we have every single right to challenge an election we think is dishonest,” Trump told reporters last week.
It remains to be seen how the indictments will affect the primary season or the election itself. Newly released Associated Press-NORC polls suggest that 89% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats consider President Joe Biden too old for a second term in office, viewing Trump as far more energetic for his age. A recent New York Times poll found that both candidates are tied at 43% approval in an even matchup, with Trump’s fanbase internally showing more enthusiasm for its candidate.
However, Biden reportedly will not spend his campaign time focused on Trump’s indictments. Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond told ABC News on Sunday, “The president has said from the beginning that he wanted an independent Justice Department, and we have to do just that. So, we’re not going to comment. We’re not going to focus on Donald Trump’s legal problems.”
Doing so may be a prudent move for the Biden administration’s reelection chances. While centrists are at risk of being scared off by Trump’s indictments, his improving poll numbers have shown that Trump actively benefits from being able to claim his being wrongly martyred. It remains unlikely that Biden will fully avoid addressing the topic through the presidential debates.