"Trump is recovering the voters who left with DeSantis, and we must admire his political communication strategy"
In an exclusive interview with LPO, Mexican journalist Jesús García explains how the former president's device works to emerge stronger from the impeachment.

Jesús García is a Mexican analyst who has lived in New York City for ten years. There he witnessed the trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera during 2018, after which he wrote "El Chapo: más allá de la duda razonable" (escribana books, 2021), in which he describes how the case was built and how the proceeding was developed. García was at Court when Donald Trump was there and pleaded not guilty to the 34 charges he is accused of. After being booked, the former president was tense, but he was paroled and returned to his home in Florida, and Manhattan was in shock.

In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, García, who has been awarded by the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), talks about the political impact generated by Trump being the first former president to face criminal proceedings in the United States and his presidential ambitions.

What about the city those days?

It was crazy. Historic. Nixon came very close to a severe investigation, but this level is something not seen, so obviously the situation is complicated. We thought there would be more protests, or more people waiting for him in front of the Trump tower, but no, there were more media than people protesting or supporting him. A large and intense operation in the city, especially closer to the lower Manhattan area. Since he was in a car, there was a coordinated operation with the secret service because - however and he is accused - all former presidents have 24-hour custody in of the secret service.

Trump is the first former president to face this proceeding, he was the first to incite an insurrection and also the first to lose the popular vote twice. He broke all the records.

Donald Trump is a historical character, more of the black history of the United States, for these things that you mention: Sadly, it was the first to have its double impeachment process, two different processes, there are many open investigations against him, this is only one of them, and many people think it is the strongest. Well no, it is not, it is a process and there ares still many more. One of the strongest obviously has to do with the secret documents that he took to Mar-a-Lago, Florida, other investigations into his interference, how he influenced the 2021 insurrection. He has other investigations for a rape also here in Manhattan, in New York. You have to remember that there is this sexual harassment, so this investigation is open. Some experts say that the accusations he faces now would not necessarily have to be the only ones this year, there could be a few others.

During his presidency, the prosecutors did not activate this lawsuit, which is only being promoted now. It seems that Trump was waiting to be handcuffed to use that image as a victim.

It is definitely something he is going to use, and he is already using it. Don't forget he was acussed and after that he raised seven million dollars in less than five days. That speaks volumes for two things, firstly, the ability of this character and his team to somehow capitalize on all the negative aspects they face, and secondly, it shows one again that Trump's voter base has no gone down, I mean, it is not as loud as it was before 2021, but it hasn't gone down, which is important because it is a behind-the-scenes kind of voter who hasn't stopped supported this president and his movement.

"No vienen por mí, vienen por ustedes": Trump capitaliza el juicio y 6 de cada 10 votantes creen que hay persecución política

He himself has announced he would be arrested, the difense tried to make the presentation online, but in the end Trump preferred to keep this high and scandalous profile.

It has to be in person, because it is not only the reading of the charges, the personal information file has to be filled out, the fingerprints, I mean, he will be filed in the American judicial process, particularly in the state of New York. We have to remember that this accusation is for crimes in the state of New York, that is very important. And what was not seen was - protocolally it should happen because it is a criminal accusation - that they take the front and profile pictures of him. Obviously, Trump could use that photograph to his advantage, saying "this is a political persecution and they have me here to humiliate me".

"Trump is recovering the voters who left with DeSantis, and we must admire his political communication strategy"

Trump says that the Latino Judge in the New York Supreme Court, Colombian Juan Merchan, hates him. There is a tug of war, right?

It is a political thing and one of the things to admire about Trump's political movement. When I say this, it does not mean I admire him, it is that you have to look at the political strategy and the strategy of his team, that is, the message is direct, it is very well articulated and he manages to make a dent precisely where it is necessary. In this case, Judge Merchan was chosen because he has experience with Trump's companies, it is not because he is persecuting Trump and then he is going to make a decision. Because Trump has to decide how his trial is going to be. First he had to plead not guilty, in order to stand trial. Or if he pleaded guilty, he would have to make an agreement directly with the prosecutors on what his sentences would be, which did not happen. Trump's lawyer has already anticipated he would plead not guilty. So there are two options, a trial by jury or a trial only with the judge who determines. That options is available to any person who is accused, they can decide. This judge has worked on these cases and that is why he was chosen, because he knows how the Trump organization works and how the former president himself operates within his companies. This is good in the judicial proceeding because the judge has no longer, nor his team, to go back in the knowledge of a character or in the whole story. That work could even delay the judicial proceeding.

It is not a new Trump strategy.

No, there are many similar cases, it also happens in federal courts: if a judge determines a case for an individual but later another closely related case appears, surely the same judge keeps it for the same reason, because he already knows the proceeding. Even Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said he had no doubt that the judge is not biased. The judge is finally doing his job, but Trump does always the same, he always talks about the judges like that, he says they hate him, etc. The same thing happened with a case he faced with some Mexican immigrants whom his security team attacked: he also attacked that judge. In the end, there was an economic agreement and he was not brought to trial. Let's just say that Trump always react like that. He is effective in sending the message and obviously there is a political impact that ends up affecting the judicial proceeding among public opinion. We must remember that in any trial of this kind there are always two paths and two forms: that official judicial and technical process and the public decision. In other words, public opinion sometimes weighs much more than what is happening inside the court, and that is very interesting.

The proceeding confirms the ability of this character and his team to capitalize all the negatives they face and proves, once again, that his voter base has not shrunk.

Do you think it is a persecution?

No, definitively not. This case is very interesting because it arose several years ago, but it had an important relevance because Michael Cohen lied to Congress, so when Cohen admits that he lied, a crack of various things begins to open. Then there are investigations launched by Manhattan prosecutors and prosecutors from the New York State Attorney General's office, who combine their investigations. But there is no such a process, it is not focused as a political matter. What is basically being settled is a matter of how those finances are handled, whether there were any violations of regulations about how campaigns are financed and how those funds are used.

The strike was going to continue...

It was declared for three days and, without any agreement, the union was going to continue negotiations with its members and one possibility was that it would continue.

For the bribery of Stormy Daniels, Trump used campaign funds and did not declare them.

Exactly. They are investigating how it was done, if he used campaign funds, how they were repaid, what are the rules that were violated, why it is considered to have been violated, how it affects the electoral process or the rules of the electoral process, and that can somehow even consider that he is doing on his own benefit, for example, when he should not have done it. There are several elements, we have to see in detail the aggravating factors that are being established. It should also be remembered that another case was revealed, which is that of Karen McDougal, who is also one of Trump's former lovers. I don't think it's a matter of political persecution.

Why does Trump's strategy work then?

Obviously it lends itself, precisely considering the political environment that exists, also because the prosecutor -Democrat Alvin Bragg- is with this investigation. It's not that he started it, the other prosecutor, the previous one, was already doing that job and he inherits the investigation. In fact, he inherited several investigations on Trump, it must be remembered, and there was an electoral process where there was also a Republican competing and he finally lost. Let's say that everything coincides in terms of the electoral processes of who was chosen as prosecutor, but it can obviously be used as a speech. Sadly, it will be very useful for the former president to use this discourse of political persecution. It's going to work very well for him, we're already beginning to see it even in some polls that came out days ago, a poll on how support for him increased, because you have to remember two things: Donald has the voter base, that has never gone down, In other words, he has always led a very strong group of voters within the Republican Party, but there were some moderates who stopped supporting him, so he dropped a few points. He didn't drop ten points, he dropped five, six points that went to Ron DeSantis, which is basically what had been considered. Well, Trump is recovering those voters, that support that he had somehow lost from those slightly more moderate Republicans.

Victimizado, Trump triplica la ventaja sobre DeSantis en las encuestas y eleva también su recaudación de campaña

He remains the leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential primaries.

And he will continue to be. Even being sentenced he can continue to be a candidate.

"Trump is recovering the voters who left with DeSantis, and we must admire his political communication strategy"

Also in the polls, the majority of Americans think that he should not be allowed to be president if he is finally convicted.

Exactly, that is why the Republican Party has an interesting job to do, because it is a double-edged sword, politically speaking, since the Republican Party can support him saying that he is finally a candidate, there is nothing that prevents him from being one, but it does not send a good message, not for the party itself as an institution. Because then any person who has been accused of a crime, are we going to champion him as a candidate? I mean, are you opening that door no matter what character it is, just because he has the necessary popularity you need? It is the "at all costs" policy. That is something that the Republican party would have to evaluate very carefully. That is why we have seen some voices that have been moderate, that have not spoken much about the case or have preferred not to speak, except for those two Republican congressmen who openly support Trump.

The judge is doing his job, but Trump always says that the judges hate him. He is effective in his message and there is a political impact that affects the judicial proceeding among public opinion. Sadly, it will be very useful for him to use this speech of political persecution.

There are also people who say, for example, that the essence of authoritarianism ‘is getting away with crime' and that is why they think this accusation is important.

It is very important because it will determine several elements. There is a possibility that he will be absolved. It's not that he's already mentioning it, that he's already guilty. We don't have to go to that level because the presumption of innocence is in any judicial proceeding. What is important is that he has reached this level and the message that justice applies to everyone and no matter who. That's good for the American judicial system. The Republicans continue with this idea that the judicial system is being used as a political weapon, it is contrary to the institutionality that the American judicial system represents, that is, it will only matter who is in charge to see who will be chased. If they manage to say that he lost the prosecution, that he failed to prove it, then this story can grow that it was political persecution. It is convenient for the prosecution - I don't know what evidence they have - but it is convenient for them to have as much evidence -witnesses as physical evidence- to demonstrate what they are accusing and that they are really compelling so as to avoid damaging the judicial system.

Does this case harm the image of justice? How does media coverage impact American democracy?

I covered one of the most important trials for Mexico, which was the case of Genaro García Luna here in the United States, and there was a big coverage here. But the United States has a lot of that culture -in fact there are several very interesting books on that- of making a parallel trial, just what I was telling you about before, of how a parallel trial of public opinion is generated and the media are an essential part of that. We are going to see it not only today but in the coming weeks, but we are going to be seeing this coverage, especially when the former president goes to court. They do affect the system of democracy, because obviously what you hear is transferred to your personal life and to your life in terms of your public action, that is, you are going to act depending on the type of coverage that is being done and how it is reaching you. It's like we've seen with voters. There are conservative media that have much more biased coverage, that is real, in favor of the former president. Fortunately, we see other means of great impact that are neither in favor nor against, but rather trying to explain the process of why it is important, it is historical, but they are not advancing conclusions or qualifying the institution as such, in this case the US judicial system.

Although all the leaders of the Republican party have closed ranks with Trump, how does this impact DeSantis' political project?

Ron DeSantis has a serious problem because he's come a long way in 2022. When it was the election and "ah, the big winner of the election was Ron DeSantis...". I said wait!: the big winner of the election in Florida was DeSantis, but DeSantis is not a character of national impact, he was not really one yet and DeSantis has to do a very important job to attract voters nationally. He became a little more famous when he took this action against immigrants, when he flew immigrants from Texas to Massachusetts, on the island, and then just crossed them a little bit so the plane would refuel in Florida. This action is still under investigation. It is a criminal investigation that is being carried out from San Antonio, in Texas, and there is also a lawsuit on the part of the people who were affected, a collective lawsuit that is a process that cuts down. He became more famous for that fact than for other things he's doing. And he also had problems in terms of the message he's sending, he's not getting the same hook on a national level that he did in Florida. It's very different to be very popular... for example, Greg Abbott is also very very popular in Texas, but he doesn't have any impact at the national level, the Republicans at the national level neither know him nor want to know him because even if he has that national impact for everything what he does and has talked about immigrants, he doesn't have the impact, unlike Trump. So until now we have not seen that this really benefits DeSantis, on the contrary, it is harming him because what Trump is achieving is attracting those moderate Republicans who are starting to see him again as a victim of the system in general, as he has expressed and has been selling it very well. The system of communication and sending of political communication messages that Trump has is impressive and it must be recognized, it is effective.

DeSantis has a serious problem. He is not a character of national impact. Greg Abbott is also very very popular in Texas, but he has no impact nationally: Republicans don't know him or don't want to know him.

We have seen it in the past with the 2016 campaign on Facebook.

I got to go to rallies with him and he is a character that really captivates the audience. That is to say, it is the direct political message and exercise he does. What he says, the way his message is organized is for study, political analysis and communication, because it is very effective, not because it is extraordinarily good in the sense that it is very well written, but very effective. It is because he appeals to the feeling that the people he is addressing need. In other words, they see him as the leader who comes to save them in some way from what they feel they are losing, it is this group of Republicans who feel that there is an invasion of immigrants, that they are losing their jobs, that there is an attack against rights such as the use of weapons, etc. With all that American culture it is the deep American that Trump has attracted. One of the things that really caught my attention about the 2022 election - and I think the Democrats do have to be very worried about - is that they said "the very emboldened Democrats won territory and we managed to prevent the Republicans from winning here". But they lost a lot. Only in New York did they lose the third most important position in Congress against George Santos, who is a liar, he himself has admitted that he is a liar, and he faces a serious investigation in this regard. But if you look at the map of the United States, you can see the voting in the districts. And if you see the map, you'll realize how red it is. That's the real voter, of course, that's where the nitty-gritty comes in and where the Democrats somehow feel like they're missing the chance to come back, if they want to. The Republicans, and particularly Trump, are making the most of it.

Translator: Bibiana Ruiz.

Temas de la nota:
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