Senate Republicans suggest Carroll’s verdict could jeopardize Trump’s 2024 chances
Several Republican senators warned on Tuesday that the verdict against Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll case could pose significant challenges for the former president in his 2024 candidacy.
“The thing is, I don’t think he can win the presidency,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters on Capitol Hill. “No matter what you think of him as an individual, for me eligibility is… the only criterion.”
When asked if he could support someone who has been convicted of sexual abuse as a presidential candidate, Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota told reporters, “I would have a hard time to do it.”
“You never liked to hear that a former president was found guilty — in civil court — of these kinds of actions,” Rounds said. “It focuses a lot of us on what we’ve been saying for some time now, which is that we’re looking for someone to lead this party together and we’re looking forward to those people coming forward.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said the verdict was clearly concerning.
“He was declared civilly responsible. How could he do anything other than create concern? Cassidy said.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota suggested the verdict would most likely be part of a “continuous drumbeat” throughout Trump’s candidacy.
He said while many voters seem to have taken the view that prosecutors are “going to get” Trump, “people are going to have to decide if they want to deal with all the drama that’s going to surround him.”
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, a frequent critic of Trump, said a jury of “Trump’s peers found him guilty of sexual assault and awarded $5 million to the person who was injured. “.
“I hope the American people’s jury has come to the same conclusion about Donald Trump,” he said.
A New York jury has found Trump responsible for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store nearly three decades ago. The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages for his battery and defamation charges, but said Trump was not responsible for Carroll’s alleged rape.
Trump, who has consistently denied Carroll’s claims, responded to the verdict on his social media website, calling the verdict a “SHAME” and suggesting he was given a “VERY UNFAIR TRIAL!”
Some Senate Republicans evaded questions about the case.
Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told an NBC News reporter, “I don’t go for walks and talks.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Trump’s top allies, focused his criticism on “New York’s justice system”, saying it was “wacky when it comes to Donald Trump”.
In his remarks on Capitol Hill, Cornyn suggested that “the public is tolerating more misbehavior from officials these days than it has in the past” and was “significantly” tolerant of Trump, who was indicted last month by a Manhattan grand jury in a silent money case.
But, Cornyn said, Trump appears to be narrowly focused on his core supporters without appealing to a “wider range of people.”
“He’s got a strong, supportive base, but you can’t win a general election with just your base,” Cornyn said. “So for me, that’s why I don’t think he can get elected.”
Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, meanwhile, argued that the verdict will “make no difference to Trump supporters or Trump opponents.”