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Keller @ Large: New charges likely won't damage Donald Trump politically

Keller: Indictment might help Trump in Republican Primary
Keller: Indictment might help Trump in Republican Primary 00:42

BOSTON - "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," Donald Trump said in January of 2016 on his way to winning the presidency.

So why would an espionage indictment make any difference?

Actually, Trump's original testimony to the rabid support of his base might have been an exaggeration - it would likely depend on who he shot, and whether or not the victim expired.

But there's scant evidence to suggest that the new charges against Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified documents and obstruction of the investigation into it will damage him politically.

Just check out the most recent polling on the subject, a Yahoo/YouGov survey from late last month.

While the poll shows Trump's approval among independents has cratered (38%), more than eight in ten Republicans still hold a favorable opinion of him. Fifty-five percent of them want Trump to be the nominee again, and he buries Ron DeSantis in a "who would you vote for today" matchup, 57-24%.

And when asked if they consider "taking highly classified documents from the White House and obstructing efforts to retrieve them" a "serious crime," only 42% of Republicans said yes, compared with 82% of Democrats and 62% of independents. Did the documents case - along with Trump's indictment for falsifying business records and liability for sexual abuse and defamation - change Republicans' opinion of him? Forty-three percent of Republicans said no, it doesn't; 22% said it left them feeling more negative; but 27% said it made them feel more positive about Trump.


For conservatives, there was plenty to like about the Trump years, and plenty of people across the ideological spectrum benefitted from economic growth. But when you consider the two impeachments, the bungling of the pandemic, January 6th and the ceaseless tsunami of lies and ethical transgressions, the obvious must be acknowledged:

Unless the investigation of the documents case has turned up evidence of treason, it's unlikely to loosen the bond between Trump and a solid plurality of his party.

It seems nothing will.

Not even shooting a stranger on 5th Avenue.

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