Washington: Where all roads lead to Trump

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives for the third day of his civil fraud trial in New York on Oct. 4, 2023. The civil trial comes after New York Judge Arthur Engoron already ruled that Trump and his sons Eric and Don Jr committed fraud by inflating the value of the real estate and financial assets of the Trump Organization for years. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Donald Trump’s stranglehold on many Republicans may be exceeded only by his stranglehold on many Democrats.

On Tuesday, hard-line House members in the GOP majority took down their own sitting speaker for the first time in the chamber’s history. Speculation was that Trump could have saved Kevin McCarthy but flexed his muscles by remaining silent.


Meanwhile, the former president scowled in court listening to arguments in a New York case in which he is accused of fraudulently inflating the worth of assets to obtain more favorable loan terms. Trump is also under indictments in various locales in connection with his actions after losing the 2020 presidential election, his handling of classified documents and a hush money case.

Trump characterizes his legal troubles as a partisan “witch hunt” intended to cripple his candidacy in the 2024 race for the White House. Clearly, many people agree. Despite the indictments, Trump leads his closest GOP contender by a whopping 50 points, according to a recent Morning Consult survey.

This is triggering Democrats, who have based all their political calculations on Trump winning the nomination. For the past few years they have relished the thought of running again against the baggage-laden and polarizing ex-president, believing victory is inevitable no matter who carries the Democratic Party’s flag if Trump is the opponent.

Democrats are finally beginning to tip-toe around the obvious. “This is a little bit like your grandfather running the company,” one Democrat told The Wall Street Journal, “and you know that he’s at a point now where the heirs could suffer value loss if we don’t change management at the top. And this is very difficult.”

Another Democrat told the paper that the party has no alternative to Biden, which causes concern. “The polling is bad. The approval ratings are bad,” he said. “We know about concerns about both the president’s age and about the vice president if she were to take over.”

The House Republicans who led the revolt against the speaker appear to have no clear path forward and probably have made it more difficult to advance any GOP priorities. In this way, they resemble Democrats who have no backup plan to a Biden nomination, regardless of his dwindling poll numbers and cognitive abilities. In both instances, Trump has left his mark.