Analysis: Despite indictments, Trump's grip on Ohio Republicans remains strong
Most Americans did what is required of people with good sense when they learned that Donald Trump had been indicted on criminal charges in Miami.
They waited until they could read or hear exactly what crimes Trump is charged with and why he is charged with them before forming an opinion.
Ohio's junior senator, J.D. Vance, and Rep. Jim Jordan, didn't do that.
Vance took to Twitter only hours after news of Trump's indictment to defend the former president and trash Attorney General Merrick Garland, long before the indictment was unsealed and he could have read exactly what Trump is accused of doing.
"The former president will be indicted for 'mishandling' his own government's classified info," Vance wrote. "Yet everyone agrees the president has the authority to declassify anything. This is a moral and constitutional joke. Merrick Garland has disgraced this country. Biden is attacking his most likely 2024 opponent. He's using the justice system to preemptively steal the 2024 election. This is what's happening, plain and simple."
The former president will be indicted for “mishandling” his own government’s classified info. Yet everyone agrees the president has the authority to declassify anything. This is a moral and constitutional joke. Merrick Garland has disgraced this country.— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) June 9, 2023
If Vance had waited to read the indictment, he would have known Trump is on tape saying he didn't declassify the document and doesn't have the power to do it now.
Vance received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School.
WVXU reached out to Vance for comment but did not hear back.
Then there is Rep. Jim Jordan of Champaign County. He went on CNN with host Dana Bash and spread the monumental untruth about Trump having already declassified the document he is charged with mishandling and withholding from authorities.
Bash was having none of it. She called him out on the lie that the documents in question had already been declassified, using Trump's own words from the indictment. Bash had Jordan in a rhetorical headlock and pinned him to the mat.
Jordan was rendered (almost) speechless.
Why do these Ohio politicians do this?
Jordan is not hard to figure out. His sole function, as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is to carry water for Donald Trump and throw shade on anyone who opposes him.
Vance most likely would not be in the office he is in now without Donald Trump.
Last year, Trump waded into a mean, crowded, ugly GOP primary for the Senate nomination by endorsing Vance in the waning days of the campaign — even though the ex-president sometimes had trouble remembering Vance's name.
The Trump endorsement came with a $15 million infusion of cash from a mutual friend of both Trump and Vance, venture capitalist Peter Thiel. It was enough to drag Vance across the finish line in the primary.
Vance's devotion to Trump is absolute.
Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a professor in the University of Dayton School of Law, said it is unfortunate but predictable that many Republicans in Congress are defending Trump without even examining the charges against him.
"They are putting their political interests ahead of the rule of law," said Hoffmeister, the former Democratic mayor of Wyoming. "The question is, how long are they going to stand by his side?"
Trump, of course, has won Ohio's electoral votes in two elections. And he is a candidate for the presidency in 2024.
But, before the summer is out, Trump could be facing even more indictments and trials that spill over into the 2024 presidential primary season.
There is the March 2024 trial in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money. There is, of course, the special prosecutor's case in Miami.
It appears that within weeks a grand jury in Georgia will indict him on charges that he tried to interfere with the 2020 election results in that state (ironically, "election interference" is now one of the accusations he is throwing at President Biden and Democrats in general), and, perhaps most importantly, Special Prosecutor Jack Smith's case that Trump incited the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Is there any chance Trump could be returned to the White House next year, given what he faces?
Probably not. And that settles the interesting legal question of whether or not he can grant himself a pardon.
"Counting on a pardon seems like a very dicey game," said David Niven, political science professor at the University of Cincinnati.
"I think Trump remains the favorite to win the Republican nomination — with or without various felony and misdemeanor convictions," Niven said. "And I think he's likely to lose the general election again, but he starts with a base of states that requires our attention. Is there even a single state he won in 2020 that Democrats could claim in 2024? Maybe North Carolina, but that is no easy task. All told, there is very little room for Democratic advancement.
"So, it will be a contest of the majority's Trump exhaustion versus the minority's Trump mania; and, as we've seen before, that is no cakewalk," Niven said.
But the exhaustion factor is real. So many voters are telling pollsters they are simply tired of the drama that follows Trump around constantly.
And, as these multiple criminal cases envelope Trump over the next year, it is likely to sink in with voters — even many voters who supported Trump in the past — that this time he has gone too far and this show has gone on too long.
"I truly believe that that there are enough people out there who do believe in the rule of law," said Hoffmeister. "There comes a time when you have to stand up and say believe in the rule of law or you do not.
"That time is coming."