In a Truth Social post on Wednesday night, former President Donald Trump demanded that Republican lawmakers in Congress shut down the federal government in order to aid him in thwarting the charges against him in the federal grand jury investigations into his actions.
With a funding crisis looming, and no indications that a deal between Democrats and Republicans (much less between Republicans and Republicans) is in motion, the federal government is set to run out of funding by the end of September.
For most Americans, this is worrisome — but Trump appears to view it as an opportunity.
Noting that the deadline for funding is fast approaching, Trump demanded that Republicans let the U.S. run out of funding to “defund all aspects” of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which he baselessly claimed was being weaponized against him by President Joe Biden to investigate and charge him in two separate inquiries.
Trump was indicted this summer for hoarding government documents, including hundreds marked classified, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, after his departure from the White House, and for obstructing federal agents’ efforts to get them returned. He also faces charges relating to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In his post, Trump called a potential government shutdown instigated by Republicans “the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other Patriots.”
“Use the power of the purse and defend the Country!” Trump added.
The former president’s plan is almost certain to backfire for two reasons.
First, while a federal shutdown does affect many aspects of the government, the DOJ and the federal court system would continue to operate. Investigators could continue their inquiries into Trump’s actions, and federal judges would still weigh in on key matters that need to be settled before his projected trial dates next year.
Second, shutting down the government to help Trump would likely hurt both him and Republicans in Congress politically.
Recent polling from Navigator Research shows that voters are nearly split on whom they would blame for a government shutdown, with 34 percent saying it would be Biden’s and Democrats’ fault and 32 percent saying Republicans would be to blame. (Twenty-seven percent would blame both sides.) That number shifts slightly when voters are told why Republicans are clamoring to negotiate a tight spending deal; when explained that the GOP wants to cut social spending programs (including Social Security, nutrition assistance, K-12 education, and more), voters shift their opinions by seven points toward blaming Republicans.
By listening to Trump, who is viewed unfavorably in most national polls, Republicans would likely lose political capital, as voters are generally supportive of the federal investigations into Trump’s actions.
A Politico/Ipsos poll from last month demonstrated that 52 percent of voters believe Trump is guilty in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, while 51 percent think he’s guilty in the election subversion case. What’s more, most Americans want Trump to face trials over his charges (and soon), with 59 percent believing trials should begin before the Republican primaries early next year.
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