- Trump may soon face an indictment in New York over a “hush-money” payment to Stormy Daniels.
- Insider asked all five GOP senators who back Trump in 2024 whether him being charged would alter their support.
- “He gets indicted every time he flies over a state,” quipped Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Donald Trump could soon make history as the first former president to be criminally charged. If that happens, he’s vowed to stay in the 2024 presidential race.
And Republican senators who have already endorsed his third White House bid appear to be sticking with him regardless.
“He gets indicted every time he flies over a state,” quipped Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. “They’ve been after him, the media has been after him, ever since he’s been running and it won’t change anything for me. I mean, it’s — we got a lot more problems than that.”
Since Trump announced his 2024 run in November, five senators — Tuberville, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, JD Vance of Ohio, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, and Eric Schmitt of Missouri — have pledged their support for his candidacy.
Aside from Graham, each of them are freshman lawmakers who won their 2022 Senate primaries with the help of the former president’s endorsements.
Insider spoke with four of the five senators on Thursday at the Capitol about a possible indictment of the former president, an increasingly plausible scenario as a New York grand jury hears evidence about the effort to pay off adult film actress Stormy Daniels during Trump’s first presidential run in 2016 to keep her from going public about an alleged affair.
Trump has claimed the payments to his then-attorney Michael Cohen were for legal fees, and condemned the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation as political payback and unconvincing — defenses echoed by some of the senators.
“They’ve been saying that for a long time,” said Mullin, seemingly expressing skepticism that an indictment could be coming. “Listen, all this stuff they continue to go after the president with is political, it’s always been political.”
Schmitt, for his part, abruptly declined to comment when asked about the possibility of an indictment of Trump.
“I’m gonna go back to my office, thanks,” he said as he boarded a train in the basement of the Capitol.
Vance — a vocal Trump critic who reversed himself amid his run for an Ohio Senate seat — indicated that he was unaware of a looming indictment, but was dismissive of it when informed.
“No, I don’t think the Stormy Daniels case is going to change my view on him,” Vance said.
Insider has reached out to Graham’s office for comment and will update this story if we receive a response.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has been investigating Trump’s role in the hush-money payment made during his 2016 campaign. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, previously admitted to and served prison time over facilitating the $130,000 payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with Trump.
Cohen has claimed that Trump authorized the payment, and told investigators that Trump later repaid him with $35,000 checks that Cohen claims were reimbursements for the hush-money.
Trump, however, has denied having an affair with Daniels, claimed the payments to Cohen were for legal fees, and slammed the investigation as a “scam.”
Trump’s lawyers are bracing for the DA to charge Trump with falsifying business records in an effort to prove those payments were concealed campaign expenses, Insider’s Laura Italiano has reported.
A star witness, Cohen appeared on Wednesday before the Manhattan grand jury hearing evidence in the case to offer his final testimony, and Trump was invited to testify but declined — signs that an indictment of the former president may be near.
The senators’ comments on Thursday signal that Trump’s most loyal backers are unlikely to be fazed by the legal drama surrounding him, as the ex-president tries to fend off rivals to his frontrunner status for the GOP presidential nomination. A Quinnipiac University poll on Wednesday found that Trump currently leads Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s widely expected to launch a campaign, by more than 10 percentage points.
Trump also recently suggested that an indictment could be politically beneficial for him — a notion that Tuberville agreed with on Thursday.
“Yeah, it probably could,” he said. “It gets his name out there.”
Trump is under investigation in a few other major criminal cases, including Georgia’s Fulton County probe of his and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.
US special counsel Jack Smith is also overseeing the Justice Department’s probes into Trump’s role in challenging the 2020 election results and in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, as well as his potential mishandling of classified documents retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.