Trump considers how best to use indictment as 2024 rallying cry

Posted by


Former President Donald Trump spent the weekend before his history-making arraignment playing golf, posting on social media, meeting with advisers, and calling and texting allies to tout the political positives of his recent indictment.

He disclosed fundraising numbers and internal poll numbers in these conversations, and vowed to fight the charges, according to more than half a dozen people who spoke with the former president or members of his inner circle this weekend.

Despite the initial shock of the indictment that caught Trump and his advisers “off-guard,” Trump has remained surprisingly calm and focused in the days ahead of his court appearance, according to the sources. Some believed he was compartmentalizing the situation, while others believed he was convinced the case against him was weak and would only help him politically.

“[Trump’s] definitely pissed off and wants to take this on aggressively, but he has been pretty low-key for Trump,” one source familiar with the former president’s recent conversations said.

“As someone who has been present for a rage fit, this [response] has not been that,” another source close to Trump said, but stressed that the former president did not want to be indicted or paraded through court Tuesday. “He is being told by a lot of people that this is a weak case and he can beat it,” the source added, despite the fact that charges have not be revealed and will not be public until the indictment is unsealed.

The former president has seemingly saved his rage for his social media site, escalating his attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and leveling threats. Last week, Trump also went after the judge he’s expected to appear in front of on Tuesday, claiming the judge “hates” him.

In between conversations with allies, the former president played golf at his Trump International Golf Course Friday, before joining his wife Melania Trump and members for dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club, where he appeared quieter than usual, a source familiar with the events said, noting that Trump left the dinner scene earlier than usual that night.

“[Trump] is thinking about how this can help him, sure, but he’s also spent a lot of time thinking about what this means in general, for 2024, and his future,” a source who has spoken to Trump in recent days said.

On Saturday, Trump was back on the golf course, where he stepped out of the club to wave at supporters gathered across the street and had staff bring the group MAGA hats, sources said.

Trump and his closest advisers spent the weekend planning out what his week would look like, and by Sunday night, the exact plan had not been finalized.

“A lot of this is hinging on Secret Service,” a source familiar with the planning said, stressing that Trump and his team would follow the security guidance given to them by the agency in charge of protecting the former president.

After his court appearance, Trump is expected to speak publicly Tuesday night back at Mar-a-Lago. Invitations for Trump’s address were sent to lawmakers, allies and Mar-a-Lago members Sunday night after the speech was announced.

“We look forward to hosting you for this memorable and historic evening,” the invitation says, according to copies reviewed by CNN.

Sources also said that Trump’s political advisers were actively discussing how to best campaign off the indictment, which they have portrayed as a political hoax and witch hunt. His team has spent the last several days presenting the former president with polls showing him with a growing lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, currently considered Trump’s biggest 2024 rival, in a head-to-head match up. Trump and his advisers have also enthusiastically mulled using his mugshot on t-shirts and merchandise to serve as a rallying cry for his supporters and to raise money for the campaign.

But sources familiar with the preparations were uncertain as to whether a mugshot would be taken, because Trump’s appearance is widely known, there are millions of pictures of him available, and authorities were concerned about the improper leaking of a mugshot, which would be a violation of state law.

After days of fundraising off the indictment, including a video plea from the former president in both an email and Truth Social post, the team released a memo from campaign heads Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita saying they had raised more than $5 million in the 48 hours following the indictment.

“Poll after poll show this political persecution by the Manhattan DA has surged overwhelming support for President Trump,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. “Over $5 million in donations and more than 16,000 volunteer signups since the announcement of this witch-hunt hoax are key indicators that Americans from all backgrounds are sick and tired of the weaponization of the justice system against President Trump and his supporters.”

“The people know this is all political –Trump knows that,” an ally said before quickly agreeing with that sentiment. “This can only boost his support.”

But not everyone agreed. “Sure, maybe this will help him in the primary,” one former Trump adviser said, pointing to what they called “Trump fatigue.”

“If these indictments start piling up, there is no way this will help him – in the primary or in the general. People will get tired of it.”