Trump in the Middle


Indictments and debate drama ensure that the primary revolves around him.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when being indicted was bad for a politician’s career. That time is over — at least for Donald Trump.

The outrageous statements and chaos that defined his candidacy and time in office did little to dent his popularity within the Republican Party. Now, his fourth indictment is testing that support again. Can a candidate facing 91 criminal counts, including charges that he sought to subvert democracy by trying to overturn an election, win his party’s nomination for the presidency?

So far, the answer seems to be yes. Not only are Trump’s indictments far from disqualifying for large parts of the Republican base — he holds a decisive polling lead across nearly every ideological wing and demographic group in the party — but they are ensuring that the contest revolves around him.

At the Iowa State Fair last weekend, Republican voters packed every stop Trump made. The crowds were so large that they made it difficult to walk through the fairgrounds during the hour he was there. He effectively stole the spotlight from Ron DeSantis, his chief rival in the race, who was scheduled to visit the fair at the same time.

Two days later, Trump dominated the news again with the spectacle of his fourth indictment. This time, the setting was Georgia, where Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, charged Trump with trying to reverse the state’s 2020 election results. As with his other indictments, Trump’s rivals were asked their view of the charges, further establishing him as the center of the Republican world.

And there’s little sign that the Trump show is ending soon. He plans to hold a news conference on Monday at his club in New Jersey. He has until next Friday to voluntarily surrender to the Georgia authorities, an appearance that will bring another wave of news media coverage.

In between, on Wednesday, at least eight other Republican candidates are meeting in Milwaukee for the first debate of the race. Normally, the face-off would prompt weeks of speculation over tactics, attack lines and debate skills. But this year, the only thing people seem to be talking about is whether Trump will attend.

Many of his advisers are telling him to skip the event, saying he has nothing to gain by being on a stage with opponents that he leads by double digits. Trump has not ruled out making an appearance, but, even if he follows his team’s advice and stays home, the debate is likely to be defined by his absence.

We can’t know how this will end. Trump is the first former president to face criminal charges, never mind the first major party candidate to run with a lengthy rap sheet. Some strategists supporting his rivals argue that the charges are already having an effect, noting that his poll numbers in Iowa and his favorability ratings have dipped. Their assessments could eventually be proved correct. Or, they could be just the latest round of wishful thinking by anti-Trump Republicans.

The country is headed into an extraordinary political season. Voters are likely to be evaluating a major party nominee who is bouncing between the campaign trail and criminal trials. And if Trump wins the 2024 election, there’s the possibility that Americans will watch their president spend part of his term in a courtroom.

Fani WillisKenny Holston/The New York Times
  • Racketeering charges, used against the mafia and gangs, could help Willis tell a sweeping story of the effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

  • Hiring challenges and threats plagued Willis during her two-and-a-half-year investigation.

  • Election deniers are facing consequences after years of spreading lies, Nick Corasaniti writes.

  • Rudy Giuliani went from “America’s mayor” to criminal defendant. Read more about his long slide.

  • Another defendant is a publicist who worked for Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

  • Willis said she hoped to begin a trial in the next six months. See Trump’s complicated legal calendar.

  • The special counsel in the Jan. 6 indictment obtained Trump’s direct messages on Twitter.

  • Trump is taunting the judge in that case. Some lawyers say that if he wasn’t a former president, his criticism would put him in jail.

  • Confused by all these indictments? Here’s an explanation of each case.

A driveway of a burnt home on Maui.Bryan Anselm for The New York Times
  • More deaths from the fires are still being confirmed: The toll is now at least 106. DNA specialists have flown to Maui to help identify the dead.

  • Officials in Hawaii released the first names of the dead last night. Many families have been waiting over a week for news.

  • President Biden said he would travel to Hawaii.

  • The Russian central bank’s sharp interest-rate rise highlights how the country is struggling to both pay for its war and tame inflation.

  • Ukraine’s unseen army: Behind the troops fighting Ukraine’s counteroffensive are technicians who also put themselves in danger.

  • Hundreds of young Taliban soldiers, bored by the routine of keeping peace in Afghanistan, are fleeing to Pakistan to wage war.

  • China’s biggest real estate company, Country Garden, has $200 billion in unpaid bills. If it defaults, experts say, the wider economy could suffer.

  • “The Daily” explains why Niger’s allies still think it’s possible to reverse the country’s coup.

  • Lounge chairs that rent for up to $130 are spreading across Greek beaches, and residents are protesting.

  • More than half of Americans addicted to opioids aren’t getting treatment.

  • Parents and doctors say a medication shortage is leading to learning declines in children with A.D.H.D.

  • Sandy Hook families are asking a bankruptcy judge to ensure that the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones pays the full $1.4 billion that he owes in defamation damages, even if it takes him the rest of his life.

  • When a Wisconsin news outlet claimed a businessman used an anti-gay slur, he sued. A judge dismissed the case, but legal bills could still close the site.

Donnell Drinks, center, was convicted at age 17 of murder.Abdul Kircher for The New York Times
  • People sentenced to life in prison as teenagers are making the case for their release. Read their stories.

  • X, formerly known as Twitter, slowed access to certain websites, including The Times, Substack and Facebook. It reversed some of the changes yesterday.

Europe’s response to migration has normalized mass death, Sally Hayden writes.

Here are columns by Jamelle Bouie on abortion and surveillance and by Thomas Friedman on Israel.

Ageless or airbrushed? Vogue’s latest cover, with ’90s supermodels, started a conversation about beauty standards online.

A regular: Becoming a familiar face at a neighborhood shop made one woman less lonely.

Ultraviolet rays: Can there be a safe suntan?

More fees: Restaurant owners are charging extra for using a credit card.

Lives Lived: Joann Meyer spent nearly 60 years at The Marion County Record in Kansas. On Friday, the police searched its offices and her home. She died a day later — while she was asking how such a thing could have happened, her son said. She was 98.

Semifinal: Australia, a tournament host, is playing England for the remaining spot in the final as we send this.

Criticism: Carli Lloyd defended her inflammatory comments about the U.S. team during its World Cup run.

Breanna Stewart recorded her third 40-point game of the season on Sunday.Ron Hoskins/NBAE, via Getty Images

High scoring: Once rare, 40-point games are surging in the W.N.B.A.

Dominance: The New York Liberty claimed the Commissioner’s Cup with a blowout win over the Las Vegas Aces.

A new star? The Colts named the rookie Anthony Richardson as their starting quarterback yesterday, increasing the pressure on a player already under intense scrutiny.

Alex Collins: The 28-year-old former N.F.L. running back was killed in a motorcycle crash in Florida.

Maddi Koch, a TikTok influencer.Madeline Gray for The New York Times

MovieTok: A new generation of movie reviewers is reaching millions of viewers on TikTok. These reviewers tend to bristle at the title of “critic,” which they see as old-fashioned and snobbish. “A lot of us don’t trust critics,” said Bryan Lucious, who posts reviews under the name @stoney_tha_great. But traditional critics might say the feeling is mutual, as many TikTok movie reviewers eschew the old model of journalistic independence and sign promotional deals with Hollywood studios.

  • The Orlando Museum of Art filed a lawsuit accusing its former director of seeking to profit from a scheme to pass off paintings as Basquiats.

  • Xuxa was Brazil’s biggest TV star. Decades later, the country is reckoning with how a blond white woman became the symbol of such a diverse country.

Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Switch on an electric pressure cooker for a rich dal.

Picnic in style with the best blankets.

Buy glasses at online shops with easy returns.

Make sure you’re eating enough fiber.

Here is today’s Spelling Bee. Yesterday’s pangram was weighty.

And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.

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