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Opinion | What if, Knowing What They Know Now, Republicans Don’t Vote for Donald Trump?

by nytime
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And yet these questions will ultimately be resolved not by the courts but by the electorate. Republican primary voters, in particular, are being presented with an opportunity to pause and consider the costs of his leadership thus far, to the health of the nation and of their party, and the further damage he could do if rewarded with another four years in power.

Put aside, for the moment, everything that has happened in the eight years since Mr. Trump first announced his candidacy for president. Consider only what is now on reams of legal paper before the American people: evidence of extraordinarily serious crimes, so overwhelming that many other defendants would have already negotiated a plea bargain rather than go to trial. This is what he faces as he asks, once again, for the votes of millions of Americans.

“I’m being indicted for you,” the former president has been telling his supporters. “They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you.” But time and again, Mr. Trump has put his ego and ambition over the interests of the public and of his own supporters. He has aggressively worked to undermine public faith in the democratic process and to warp the foundations of the electoral system. He repeatedly betrayed his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the nation’s laws. His supporters may be just as angered and disappointed by his loss as he is. But his actions, as detailed in these indictments, show that he is concerned with no one’s interests but his own. Among the accusations against him:

  • He attempted to overturn the 2020 election by using what he knew to be false claims of voter fraud to pressure numerous state and federal officials, including his own vice president and top officials of the Justice Department, to reverse voting results and declare him the winner.

  • He sought to disenfranchise millions of American voters by trying to nullify their legally cast ballots in order to keep himself in office. In doing so, he colluded with dozens of campaign staff members and other associates to pressure state officials to throw out certified vote counts and to organize slates of fake electors to cast ballots for him.

  • In one example of the personal damage he caused, Mr. Trump led a scheme to harass and intimidate a Fulton County election worker, Ruby Freeman, falsely accusing her of committing election crimes. The Georgia indictment — accusing him of the crime of false statements and writings in official matters — says he falsely called her a “professional vote scammer” who stuffed a ballot box with fraudulent votes for Mr. Biden.

  • After having extramarital sex with an adult film actress, he falsified business records to hide $130,000 in hush-money payments to her before the 2016 election.

That list does not include the verdict, by a New York State court in May, that Mr. Trump was civilly liable for sexual assault against E. Jean Carroll. Nor does it include the ongoing asset and tax fraud prosecution of the Trump Organization by the New York attorney general, Letitia James.

Time and again, Mr. Trump has demanded that Republicans choose him over the party, and he has exposed and exploited some genuine rifts in the G.O.P., refashioning the party to suit his own agenda. The party will have to deal with those fault lines and may have to reconfigure itself and its platform. But if Republicans surrender to his demands, they may find themselves led by a candidate whose second term in office would be even more damaging to America and to the party than his first.

A president facing multiple criminal trials, some prosecuted by his own Justice Department, could not hope to be effective in enforcing the nation’s laws — one of the primary duties of a chief executive. (If re-elected, Mr. Trump could order the federal prosecutions to be dropped, though that would hardly enhance his credibility.) A man accused of compromising national security would have little credibility in his negotiations with foreign allies or adversaries. No document could be assumed to remain secret, no communication secure. The nation’s image as a beacon of democracy, already badly tarnished by the Jan. 6 attack, may not survive the election of someone formally accused of systematically dismantling his own country’s democratic process through deceit.

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