At last week’s rally for the former president in Rapid City, South Dakota, Phil Jensen wore a bright red T-shirt with Donald Trump’s mug image and “NEVER SURRENDER!” emblazoned on it. The veteran state politician was so taken with the shirt that he bought half a dozen extra to give as gifts.
Photo taken in an Atlanta jail after Trump was arrested for trying to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state. “He looks defiant,” Jensen remarked.
“And I love it because he has every right to be,” the South Dakota Republican exclaimed. A train ran over him.
Trump’s 91 criminal charges in four distinct cases have further solidified his followers’ faith in him, according to over 40 interviews conducted by AWN in Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas. They echoed Trump’s baseless accusations that he was the victim of a political “witch hunt” and said the charges proved the system was rigged against him and, by extension, them.
Recent polls suggest that a majority of Americans believe that the claims against Trump are genuine and that he should be prosecuted, but Trump still has a firm grasp on the Republican Party and is widely seen as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 2024 presidential primary.
Corey Bonner of Texas remarked, “What they’re doing to him is persecution.” They have been relentless in their pursuit of a former U.S. president and have no plans to stop any time soon. And now is the time for us to take a stand.
Alabama Republican Party member Carolyn McNeese, 81, repeated President Trump’s accusations on the prosecutors who have accused him, calling them “evil.” McNeese is a former teacher.
“They want him out because they’re scared of him,” McNeese said of the people who want him gone.
According to the interviewees, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter is the one who should be charged, and Republicans are held to a different standard by the law. Even if Trump did commit crimes, some people still support him because, as one Texan put it, “We all have sinned; we all have some things that we’ve done.”
South Dakota construction worker Jace Kirschenman, age 18, said, “He’s probably guilty, but it doesn’t matter.”
He swore he would vote for Trump again in 2020 no matter what.
Corey Shawgo, a 34-year-old truck driver from Pennsylvania who went to Trump’s event in Erie, said, “You show me a perfect person in this world, and I’ll show you a blue pig with wings.” “We are all fallible.”
Scott Akers of Alabama, like many other Trump supporters interviewed, pointed to Hunter Biden when asked about Trump’s growing legal trouble.
“We have something finally start to come out about the connection between Hunter Biden’s shady dealings and his father, and then, like two days later, there’s a federal indictment,” Akers added. “The timing of it is ironic, to say the least.”
The Justice Department and the Republican-controlled House have opened probes against the president’s son. Although the House GOP investigation has not yet uncovered any proof that Joe Biden benefited from his son’s business operations, it has revealed that the younger Biden exploited his father’s name to help push agreements. Hunter Biden was also indicted on Thursday, this time for a firearm he legally acquired in 2018.
“This country is a ticking time bomb”
Some Trump supporters have linked their fury at the indictments to the possibility of increased political violence in the event of a Trump conviction.
This country is a ticking time bomb. Speaking at Trump’s Pennsylvania rally, 76-year-old Frank Yurisic remarked, “You know, we’ve ’bout had it.
Yurisic predicted, “I think there could very well possibly be violence.” I plan to join the march on Washington if it happens. They have no idea how this is going to affect the public sentiment in this country.
Some Trump fans who spoke to AWN echoed Trump’s own fears that violence could erupt in the event of his conviction.
Trump threatened “potential death and destruction” in the event that a Manhattan grand jury indicted him in March for paying hush money to an adult film star. In a radio interview in Iowa this past July, Trump was asked how his followers could respond if he were to go to jail. His response: “I think it’s a very dangerous thing to even talk about because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters.”
“There’ll be backlash, and it’ll probably be severe,” said Jim Vanoy, an 80-year-old Trump supporter from Alabama. If Trump is found guilty, he said, “good degree of violence” would occur.
A senior scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace named Rachel Kleinfeld claimed that political violence in the United States had “vastly increased” after Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
By normalising violence as a means to resolve political disputes, he “unleashed some of the worst parts of the American id.” People are killing one other over political differences all around the country, she claimed.
However, Kleinfeld suggested that the severe prison terms handed down to some of the instigators of the violent revolt on January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol could serve as a deterrence to political violence. Both Stewart Rhodes, leader of the alt-right militia group Oath Keepers, and Enrique Tarrio, leader of the alt-right Proud Boys, were recently sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Kleinfeld also brought up the fact that an Iowa man was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for threatening the attorney general of Arizona and a Phoenix-area election officer.
It’s the best thing that could happen to prevent further violence, she added, and “what we’re seeing now is a summer of a lot of accountability,” where people are starting to be held accountable for violence.
In a recent interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Trump defended his fans who participated in the January 6 mob, claiming that there was “love and unity” among those who had congregated in Washington that day.
His base of supporters echoed the falsehoods he spread about the 2020 election in interviews with AWN, fueling the disturbance in the Capitol. In a rematch with Biden in 2024, many people said they believed Trump would win.
I don’t care unless they convict him of something,” said Pennsylvania resident Mark Roling, 63. Indeed, I find that I rather enjoy it. His strength increases with each new indictment.