Rumors and speculative reporting indicate that a Democratic district attorney in New York City is on the verge of criminally indicting former President Donald Trump -- a move that even Trump's staunchest enemies within the Republican Party acknowledge will likely prove politically beneficial to the former president's quest for the GOP nomination in 2024.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) indicated as much on Tuesday when he lamented that an indictment against Trump would probably serve to bolster his re-election bid more than hamper it, the Washington Examiner reported.
At issue here are the reports that Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is set to bring charges against former President Trump in relation to a $130,000 "hush money" payment to former porn star actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet about an alleged affair years earlier.
Most legal analysts agree that Bragg's is a novel and untested stretch of the law as he seeks to resurrect a misdemeanor crime -- falsified business records in regard to the payment -- and transform it into a felony by linking it to an alleged federal campaign finance law violation, in that the payment benefited Trump's 2016 campaign and should have been counted as a contribution.
The purportedly imminent indictment from Bragg has been widely denounced by virtually all Republicans, including those who stand unquestionably opposed to Trump, like Ryan, and that was made clear in his remarks on Tuesday at Finesca's Advanced Markets conference for 2023.
Asked about the possibility of a criminal indictment against Trump over the "hush money" payment to Daniels, Ryan first joked, "You know, I wouldn’t have had the relationship with the porn star in the first place."
However, the former speaker noted, "It does seem a little petty and ridiculous the DA is doing this. It looks very vengeful and political, and I don’t think you could do anything to help Donald Trump more than this DA doing what he’s doing."
Ryan, who confirmed that he hasn't spoken with Trump for years now and proudly labels himself a "never-again Trumper," further expressed how he was tired of watching Republicans lose elections with Trump as the party's standard-bearer, and indicated that he'd be willing to support any other candidate aside from Trump if they were capable of winning broad voter support.
"Since 2016 when he got elected, we’ve lost seven governorships, 22 House seats, three Senate seats, and the White House," he said. "So as a Republican, I want to win. I don’t want to keep losing. And we know that we keep losing with him."
Along those lines, Ryan also suggested that Trump being the GOP nominee for 2024 would have a negative impact on congressional and Senate elections during that cycle, and predicted, "If it’s Trump, we’re screwed, I think. If it’s not, I think we’re going to do really well."
Ryan is not alone among the former president's haters in the GOP who worry that a criminal indictment against Trump will actually help instead of hurt him, at least during the primary season, according to Politico's Playbook, in that it could provoke a "rally-to-the-flag effect" among Republican voters in support of the embattled candidate.
Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), who was voted out of office after he supported the second impeachment attempt against Trump, said that an "indictment is a billion dollar gift-in-kind from Democrats to Trump’s ‘24 campaign."
Relatedly, People magazine reported this week that even if Trump is criminally indicted, that wouldn't legally prevent him from running or even winning the GOP nomination and general election, and that any potential criminal proceedings stemming from the indictment would likely be placed on hold during his tenure in office due to the sitting president being "constitutionally immune" from lawsuits and prosecution.
As for how an indictment might impact Trump politically, it could prove to be a double-edged sword, as it likely would indeed "galvanize the base" of his hardcore supporters even more, but could also be the final straw that pushes away his softer supporters and fence-sitters in the Republican Party.