Trump’s legal woes carry political pros, cons, UTSA political expert says

After former President Donald Trump compared FBI agents executing a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago estate to the burglars in the Watergate break-in, political scientist Jon Taylor wrote a commentary published Wednesday in the San Antonio Express-News.

Later in an interview, Taylor, the chair of the UTSA Department of Political Science and Geography, said, “This was not a break-in by Nixon’s ‘plumbers’ and approved by Nixon’s staff and up to Nixon himself as part of a political campaign.”

Taylor said it was a federal search warrant with enough probable cause to look for classified documents, as authorized by a federal judge.

He pointed out that both the federal judge and the FBI director are Trump appointees.

“Yet somehow, this was now part of the deep state and some sort of conspiracy,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t fly.”

On Wednesday, the former president took the Fifth, refusing to answer questions in a deposition by the New York attorney general who is investigating the Trump Organization and its dealings.

Taylor said in a criminal trial, pleading the Fifth doesn’t work.

He said being this is a civil trial, “It’s a different story. You actually can use that, at least, as the basis for saying, ‘what do they have to hide?’”

Taylor said the ex-president’s legal woes carry pros and cons for each political party ahead of the midterm congressional elections.

“I don’t think it necessarily hurts the Democrats and ultimately, I’m not sure it helps the Republicans,” Taylor said.

However, he said Trump has used his legal predicament to rally his base even more ahead of his potential re-election bid in 2024.

“Now everybody has to support Trump, now has to come out publicly, and actually strengthens Trump’s hold on the Republican Party and strengthens his case to win the Republican nomination in ‘22,” Taylor said.

However, for Democrats, Taylor said, “Republicans are viewed as being in disarray.”

He also said Democrats now have an issue to run on that’s not all about inflation and the economy.

But Taylor said any momentum either party may have now could swing the other direction before Election Day, depending on what else comes out, such as specifically what was in the FBI search warrant.

“The Justice Department may not want to release the details,” Taylor said. “Trump was given a copy of the search warrant. He could release it himself if he really wanted to, you know, throw a monkey wrench into things politically.”

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