Former United States President Donald Trump made a notable appearance alongside his Republican competitors, despite facing mounting legal challenges. Trump took the opportunity to launch an attack on his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, during a conservative event known as the Lincoln Dinner in Iowa.
During his speech at the event, Trump urged attendees not to support DeSantis, whom he referred to as “DeSanctus.” Trump emphasized his record in office, highlighting the appointment of three conservative judges to the Supreme Court and the initiation of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. He asserted that if he weren’t running for office again, he would have no one coming after him.
The event drew attention as it came on the heels of new charges against Trump related to alleged mishandling of classified documents. Additionally, he was potentially facing indictment for his alleged efforts to change the outcome of the 2020 election.
Despite the legal challenges, Trump’s dominance in the Republican field remains strong, with his support among conservatives continuing to grow. At the Lincoln Dinner, DeSantis and ten other Republican attendees refrained from criticizing Trump directly. Instead, they focused their attacks on President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
Notably, former Texas congressman Will Hurd, positioning himself as a moderate candidate in the race, faced boos from the crowd when he accused Trump of “running to stay out of prison.”
Constitutional experts are uncertain about whether a US president can pardon themselves, suggesting that such a matter would likely have to be settled by the Supreme Court.
As Trump faces a total of 40 charges, his legal predicament does not legally prevent him from seeking the presidency or being elected. However, one or more guilty verdicts could impose significant barriers on his ability to campaign or carry out his duties if elected.
Throughout the ordeal, Trump has staunchly denied any wrongdoing, attributing the legal actions to a politically motivated witch hunt led by Biden’s Justice Department. Despite the legal cloud hanging over him, Trump’s lead over DeSantis and the rest of the Republican field remains substantial, with his approval among conservatives showing no signs of diminishing.