Will New Charges against Trump Sway Voters?*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Both major U.S. presidential candidates risk dropping out of the race.

The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has led to charges against former President Donald Trump, who could become the first president to go to prison. He is expected to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday** on four federal criminal charges. Although many Americans have grown accustomed to Trump’s legal battles and the idea of his potential imprisonment, the new charges might affect independent voters.

Special Counsel Jack Smith announced an indictment charging Trump with four federal offenses: 1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, 2) conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, 3) obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and 4) conspiracy against rights. The prosecutor asserted that Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 election caused an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy, and that the prosecution will present evidence to a jury showing that Trump is guilty.

The indictment lists six co-conspirators involved in events leading to the 2020 attack on Capitol. They are most likely four attorneys and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a long-time Trump ally and a Trump attorney for many years. Among the three criminal investigations Trump is facing, the most recent could have far more serious legal consequences for him than the others dealing with retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

The former president could spend more than a decade behind bars. What is important in the context of the 2024 election, however, is that even if Trump is taken into custody, he will be able to continue his presidential campaign. In addition, as a former head of state, he will still be entitled to Secret Service protection.

Trump and his supporters believe the charges against him are fabricated and politically motivated. On top of that, Republicans, after gaining a majority in the House of Representatives, have initiated an investigation into Joe Biden and his alleged corrupt ties to foreign businesses through his son, Hunter Biden.

When it comes to Trump, many Americans already know about his dubious achievements after the 2020 presidential election, but Biden is a completely different story. Prosecutors will have to present strong evidence to the American public to prove the charges being leveled at Biden. Devon Archer, who served with the younger Biden on the board of the Ukrainian oil company Burisma, appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Monday. He said Hunter Biden called his father about 20 times to resolve certain issues despite the fact that the current president claims he has never discussed work issues with his son. However, Archer admitted that he was not aware of any payments to the Bidens from foreign businesses.

“It looks like Trump is going to face even more charges. However, some charges will surely be more serious than others. We’re not just talking about the legal ramifications of these charges. It’s important to see them from the American public’s perspective. Independent voters will undoubtedly be affected by Trump’s indictment. Besides, more than half of Americans are sure that in one way or another Trump broke the law in 2020,” said Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States at Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Furthermore, Rogulev emphasized that under certain circumstances both main contenders could withdraw their candidacy from the 2024 presidential election.

“Corruption charges are serious enough to incur criminal liability. Moreover, Biden isn’t exactly in good health either, and in case the Democrats decide to promote another candidate, the Republicans could also ask Trump to step aside to make way for his fellow Republicans,” Rogulev explained.

**Editor’s note: Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to charges in the most recent indictment at his arraignment on Thursday, July 3.

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