The ex-president, along with his aides and allies, found themselves in a familiar routine as they activated their political propaganda and fundraising apparatus once again.
Donald J. Trump, the former President, was at his Bedminster club in New Jersey when he was informed of his indictment on Thursday. The news reached him while he was there, according to Bryan Anselm’s photograph.
Former President Donald J. Trump received a phone call in his office at his club in Bedminster, N.J., informing him that he had been indicted for the second time in less than three months. This time, the charges were federal and related to his conduct just before leaving office and for approximately 18 months afterwards. Rather than dwelling on the indictment, Trump immediately focused on a political response.
At 7:21 p.m., he took matters into his own hands, personally programming the news channel Chyrons to break the news of his indictment. He posted a statement on his social media network, Truth Social, which interrupted the nighttime shows on major news networks. While the statement primarily attacked the Biden administration, it did contain relevant details about his indictment and his scheduled appearance at a Miami courthouse.
A studio van was brought to Bedminster so that one of his lawyers could appear on television, while another lawyer, James Trusty, went on CNN to discuss a few of the charges and share his client’s initial reaction. Trump expressed sadness and disbelief, saying, “This is just a sad day. I can’t believe I have been indicted.” Trusty added that Trump recognized the historic nature of the situation, stating, “This is crossing the Rubicon.”
Leading up to the indictment, Trump’s team had been searching for information, having met with Justice Department officials earlier in the week. While they expected charges, nothing from the meeting changed their perspective. They relied on rumours, gossip, and news reports for information rather than verified facts.
Anticipating the charges, Trump’s team pre-recorded a video of the former president reacting to the expected indictment. In the video, he stood in front of what appeared to be a version of a painting featuring President Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser Wilhelm II, the leader of Germany during World War I.
Half an hour after announcing his indictment, former President Donald J. Trump posted a video on his social media website. In the video, he criticized Democrats, portrayed the indictment as a sign of a declining nation, and proclaimed his innocence. His team urged Republicans close to him to issue statements, and allies like Representative Jim Jordan and Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed support and vowed to hold the “brazen weaponization of power” accountable.
During the events at Bedminster, Trump was surrounded by his political and communications circle rather than his lawyers, reflecting his approach to legal challenges. His team had been preparing to exploit the federal indictment for political gain, viewing federal law enforcement actions against him as a core part of their fundraising strategy. Indictments tend to enliven grassroots supporters, leading to increased donations.
Not even an hour after learning of his indictment, Trump’s campaign sent its first mass email, capitalizing on a sense of shared persecution and victimhood among his supporters. Trump’s allies, including the main pro-Trump super PAC MAGA Inc., began attacking the special counsel and spreading opposition research. They planned to release a television advertisement portraying the indictment as a partisan plot orchestrated by President Biden’s Justice Department.
As Trump prepares for his arraignment, some of his close allies are pressuring his competitors in the Republican presidential nominating contest to show support by suspending their campaigns and going to Miami. Rival campaigns privately admitted dreading the indictment, as it would dominate the news cycle and overshadow their candidates. Many Republican voters perceive charges against Trump as a Democratic plot and want all Republicans to defend him, leaving other 2024 candidates in the uncomfortable position of having to align themselves with Trump to appease their base.
Similar pressure tactics were used the last time Trump was indicted, particularly in rallying support from Governor Ron DeSantis. However, this time, while DeSantis attacked the prosecutors, he did not fully defend Trump. Instead, he promised to bring accountability to the DOJ and end political bias.
After learning about the indictment, Trump went to the main building at Bedminster for dinner, wearing a red Make America Great Again cap. He acted as a DJ, playing music from artists like Elvis, Pavarotti, and James Brown.