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From New York Times, I'm Michael Bivarro.


This is The Daily.


Today, how the criminal conviction of Donald Trump will shape the remaining months of the presidential race and potentially its outcome. My colleagues, Nate Cohn, Maggie Haberman, and Reid Epstein, explain. It's Monday, June third. Hello, Nate.


Hello, Michael.


It's been three days since Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony charges, and now that the dust is starting to settle, it feels like we have to turn to the question of its impact on the election. You are our resident polling expert at the Times. We want you to frame that question with as much data as we possibly can. There's always been a sense that for a lot of voters, a Trump conviction wouldn't change a thing. So whose vote, according to all the polls you conduct and study, might this conviction actually influence? What's that universe?


Well, we haven't yet conducted any polls since the conviction, so all of this is strictly theoretical.


But before the conviction, even before the trial, we were asking voters what they would do, how they would vote, if Donald Trump was convicted of a serious crime.


When we gave voters that hypothetical, a small but still meaningful group of Donald Trump supporters told us that they would then vote for Joe Biden.


How small but meaningful.


So When our Time Siena battleground polls in October, 7% of Donald Trump supporters said they would vote for Joe Biden if Donald Trump was convicted of a felony.




Now, it's just a hypothetical.


But 7% is real.


7% isn't just real. In our era of close elections, it's easily decisive. The race might not even be close. But it's important to emphasize, and I can't emphasize this enough, that asking voters a hypothetical is not a realistic simulation of what will actually happen now. They didn't even know what trial was about. We just put in their face, he's guilty now what? That's not the way it's going to work in the real world. But it shows that a meaningful sliver of Trump supporters are uncomfortable with the idea of voting for Trump once he's been convicted of a felony. Moreover, they were even willing to say they support or would support Joe Biden. They said to the Polster, Joe Biden. That's a real line for a Trump voter to cross.


I'm hearing you say that this could, could, could, could condition be a game changer.


Look, I'm not a strategist, but the fact that there's this sliver of voters who are repelled by the idea of Donald Trump as a convict means that now that he is a convicted felon, how the Biden campaign and the Trump campaign handle this issue, how they talk about this conviction, how they try and exploit it, could easily be decisive in a close election this November.


You're ready to go, Maggie?


I'm ready to go.


Okay. So, Maggie, from what Nate Cohn just told us, the election could theoretically hinge on how both that it's decide to talk about and campaign around this criminal conviction of Trump. So as a long-time student and observer of Donald Trump, take us into his emerging strategy for how to approach and if possible, capitalize on this conviction.


Let's just start with how he's feeling about this, which is quite angry. We know that this verdict, according to several people who have spoken to him, has infuriated him. This is clearly not the outcome he wanted. Nobody wants to be convicted of a crime. If you think about it, Trump has lived in a legal gray area for decades. But prior to the last 16 months or so, he had never been charged with a crime. Even though privately, he had told people from the outset he expected he would get convicted, he is a big believer in his own luck, and he had really hoped that his winning streak would continue.


And it did not.


It did not. This is really hard for him to stomach and to process, frankly. But even before the verdict, it was clear what he was going to do and how he was going to try to spin a guilty verdict. From the moment he walked out of the courtroom and into the courthouse hallway where he talked to reporters there.


This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt.


We saw what has become his standard playbook emerge from his genuine furia here.


Our whole country is being rigged right now. This was done by the Biden administration.


And that was to characterize this outcome as the inevitable culmination of a years-long partisan campaign to weaponize the legal system against him.


We'll keep fighting. We'll fight till the end and we'll win because our country has gone to hell.


His message is, fight against this corrupt system. By fight against it, his message to voters is, elect me again. This message takes lots of forms. The first is a series of fundraising pitches that are coming fast and furiously. I just want to read you a few of them, Michael. I am a political prisoner. Never surrender. I was convicted in a rigged political witch hunt trial. I did nothing wrong.


Thank you very much, everybody.


After these fundraising pitches that accelerated after the verdict.


As far as the trial itself, it was very unfair.


He held this, not really a press conference, but gave a statement.


You saw what happened to some of the witnesses that were on our side? They were literally crucified by this man who looks like an angel, but he's really a devil. He looks so nice and soft.


Long wrong statement on Friday morning at Trump Tower, where he tried to essentially relitigate the case and cast it in his own way.


Legal expense was marked down as legal expense. Think of it. This is the crime that I committed, that I'm supposed to go to jail for 187 years for.


And say things that were not true, such as that he faces 187 years in prison.


But this is far beyond me. This is bigger than Trump. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than my presidency.


And I can fix this system that's corrupt, and you can trust me to take care of it.


November fifth. Remember, November fifth is the most important day in the history of our country. Thank you very much, everybody.


So Trump's plan is quite clearly not in any way so far to avoid talking about what for many people would be legal stain on your record, but to talk about it a lot. I mean, He's holding a news conference explicitly to talk about it. He's sending out all these fundraising messages, referring to it, and he's going to lean into it in those communications to basically say, That thing I always warned you was happening to me and could happen to me that the other side would use the legal system against me. It's finally happened. The only way that we can overcome this is if you make me president and I become the guy sitting atop the entire legal system and I can fix it from the inside. That's basically the message.


Yes, and that has consistently been his message, Michael. We saw Trump run previously on the idea of, I alone can fix it. That really is what he's saying here. He is saying that the only credible law enforcement is me, that all of these efforts to investigate me are tainted, they're political, they're politicized, and you can fix this by electing me.


How should we be thinking about whether this familiar framework on steroids, now that Trump has actually been convicted, is working? I know it's early. It's basically 72 hours since his conviction. But because he's been so present in presenting this version of events, I wonder how we gage if it's any a success.


We do have one pretty powerful barometer, which is his fundraising. He raised an astonishing amount of money in a very short amount of Shortly after the conviction was announced, the websites where he's asking people to donate crashed from so much traffic. Wow. And yet he still managed to raise more than $50 million in less than 36 hours.


I mean, that is a little bit hard to wrap your head around. That's well, my math isn't that great, but it's well more than a million dollars an hour.


Right. And look, we can't corroborate those numbers until we see the FEC reports. I think it's important to note that. But by all accounts, They've raised a ton of money.


We've talked to our colleagues about Trump's fundraising disadvantage vis-a-vis Joe Biden, which is pretty meaningful. It sounds like, of all things, a conviction, a criminal conviction, has done more to catch him up to Biden than almost anything else in this campaign.


That's exactly right. There is a very real possibility that he will, if not erase the gap, significantly close the gap that Biden has over him with fundraising in the coming weeks.


But I have to say that so far, what you're describing is feeling like a direct appeal to the base, the faithful, to those who are primed to love Trump and to see the world as he does, a legal system rigged against him. It feels less like a strategy for reaching out to the 7% or so of voters who, as Nate told us earlier, have told posters that a conviction might send them from Trump to Biden. So how should we think about that?


It's a really good question, Michael. I think that his advisors would rather that he doesn't spend so much time relitigating the trial details. They let Stormy Daniels testify, they let this happen, they let that happen. His It just are okay with him putting forward a message about how I'm here fighting for a system that is being perverted in his telling. And his advisors think there are enough people, even in the middle, who are troubled by the relative frivolous case here compared to the much weightier ones of January sixth and the classified documents case, that they think that that could have some appeal. But the problem is they can't control how Trump is going to talk about this. They can try. And so the question becomes, can he deliver a focused enough message that could appeal to people who worry about how this case came about? Was it a contortion of the law? And who might be open to that message in the fall.


Meantime, from what I'm seeing, Maggie, it seems like everyone in the Republican Party seems to be taking their cues from Trump and really going all in on this strategy of trying to use this conviction to win over voters.


Well, they don't even need much of a cue to take, Michael. They already know what Trump wants them to say. But yes, I mean, everybody is pushing it front and center.


The court system is weaponized. It is used to go after political opponents and the people who work for them.


I woke up heartbroken for our country because the precedent set is that if you don't like somebody's politics, you should use the American system of law and order to try and destroy them.


You're seeing Marco Rubio and JD Vans, who are two top vice presidential pics, talking about the verdict and talking about it in very derisive terms and what it might mean for the future.


The entire argument of this case is that Donald Trump should go to prison because an employee of his filled out paperwork the wrong way.


This is disgraceful. Do you believe that? You're seeing governors talk about it. You're seeing local lawmakers talking about it. You're seeing the House Speaker talk about it. You are seeing everybody talk about it. He is the leader of the Republican Party, and instead of cleaving them away from him, It's moving them closer, and he has just tightened his grip. Whether that is something durable in a general election where most voters are going to vote about how candidates impact their own lives and how policies impact their own lives, we just I don't know. But they are very much putting this front and center for the time being.


I want to talk about that for just a minute because we've long understood that Republican officials at very high levels are willing to mimic whatever Trump is saying after the Access Hollywood video, for example, in 2016, during the impeachments. But this feels different. We're now seeing members of the United States Senate, for example, Vance and Rubio, embracing a message of outright lawlessness. This is supposedly the party of law and order. It's surprising not just to see them embracing a convicted felon in Donald Trump, but embracing him at the very moment when he is saying to the world, This is stupid, this is rigged, this doesn't make any sense. I just don't think we've ever really seen that before in American politics.


Michael, I'm going to I go ahead and disagree a bit with your premise. I don't think there's anything surprising about this because Donald Trump has so thoroughly remade the Republican Party, where what he wants it to be is what everyone does. We have seen this over the course of many, many years. So what he's asking of these people is no different than what he asked of them during the first impeachment or the second impeachment, or when he was indicted. In this case, it is defend me, defend me, defend me. And there is no exception made now that he has actually been convicted because Republicans don't believe this was a legitimate trial. So this is not an intellectually hard leap for them to make.


He has, over the years, remade the Republican Party, this party of Law and Order, into the Party of, when it comes to the law, whatever Donald Trump says.


Correct. Instead of it once upon a time being the party of law and Order, where this conduct would be shunned, where, say, when Richard Nixon was in office and convinced to leave because of what he was facing in terms of possibly being ousted and not putting his party through that. Donald Trump is going to put his party through that every single time, and they will happily go through it with him at this point.


Well, to that point, there are, it would seem, two possibilities for how this all plays out. One is that Trump's conviction strategy, what we've been talking about here, it works because he hasn't just remade the Republican Party in his image. He's remade the entire country's expectations about what a president can or can't be. The other possibility is that this This approach is just wrong. While Republicans are going to line up behind Trump because of it, average Americans, swing voters, especially, won't. This will end up just recreating the Republican Party's problems from the last election, the 2022 midterms, when Trump's renegade outlaw approach, his insistence that the election was stolen, his defense of riots at the US Capitol on January 6, ended up costing the Republican Party so many Congressional elections. That could be happening because of Trump's message right now all over again in this presidential race.


That's exactly right, because, again, we just don't know which way this is going to play. So much of this is going to depend on how a narrow group of voters view this in a handful of states. If there are enough people who can be persuaded by him that this really was an unfair thing that happened to him and evidence of a corrupted and corroded system, Then maybe it will work. But if all Trump does is keep reminding people that he has engaged in conduct that other presidents have not, that could be a problem for him.




Some of this depends, Michael, on what Democrats decide to do broadly, and we just don't know the answer to that yet. Democrats so far are very clearly conflicted about how to handle this. Donald Trump is not, not conflicted at all.


Well, Maggie, thank you very much.


Michael, thank you.


After the break, my colleague week, Reid Epstein, takes us inside that democratic conflict. We'll be right back. What's my subscription to the New York Times have me doing this week? Preparing a strawberry pretzel pie, solving Spelling Bee with no hints, planning a trip to one of the 52 best places to go, getting to the bottom of the big pants trend, and I'm finally replacing my vacuum with a recommendation I can trust. What will your subscription to the Times have you do? Why not find out? With generous welcome offers that include a seven-day free trial. Go to nytimes. Com/freetrial. Reid, you cover the Biden campaign for the Times. We just talked to Maggie about how Donald Trump is trying to turn this negative, a conviction, into a positive by basically deciding to talk about it nonstop, which is a risky strategy. In theory, Democrats have a simpler task here, which is to figure out what to do with a political gift, their opponent leading in the polls having been convicted of 34 crimes. But Maggie's final words to us were that Democrats were conflicted about how to handle this, suggesting that it is more complicated than it may seem.


My question to you is, is it and should it be complicated?


Well, it usually is a good thing when your opponent is convicted of felonies during a campaign. In the campaign handbook, that is generally seen as a plus. However, we are living in the year 2024. President Biden is running for re-election, and he has a very complicated relationship with Donald Trump's legal problems. He has, from the beginning, vowed to not discuss them. He has essentially ordered the White House and his campaign staff to stay away from any discussions of what the indictments would mean for his own political future and the presidential campaign. And why would that be? He does not want to be seen as pulling the strings or the man responsible for Trump being indicted. When he ran for President in 2020, you may remember he ran on a return to normal. One of the tenets of that was an independent Justice Department that would make decisions without influence from the White House.


But, Reid, importantly, this case that we're talking about, and this conviction, is not federal case. It is a local Manhattan criminal prosecution that has resulted in a conviction. So what has Biden's relationship been to that? Has that decree of, Don't talk about Trump's legal problems because I am President and I oversee the Department of Justice, has that applied to this case?


It has, for the most part, held in this case. The Biden campaign has had a couple of jokey asides referencing the Manhattan case. If you remember when they made their offer to have a debate, Biden said that he would do it on Wednesdays because that was when Trump was free from the trial. But for the most part, Biden has stayed pretty mute about the whole thing. Then on Thursday afternoon, when the verdict came in, everyone in the universe that I report about was anxious and ready to see if it would change the Biden campaign's posture toward Donald Trump's legal issues. And what we learned in the minutes after the verdict was delivered was that they were staying the course, essentially. That they issued a press release that said, essentially, the only way to keep Donald Trump out of the White House is at the ballot box. And the next day, Biden himself gives a press conference at the White House. Good afternoon. Before I begin my remarks, I just want to say a few words about what happened yesterday in New York City. He spoke about Trump's verdict. The jury, the judicial process. The jury heard five weeks of evidence, five weeks.


After careful deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts. And as far as Trump himself, Biden is pretty restrained. And it's reckless. It's dangerous. It's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict. He talks about how reckless it is for anybody to cast doubt upon the judicial system and the process through which Trump was convicted. But he doesn't get into the specifics of Trump's case, nor does he dwell on Trump's new status as a convicted felon. The justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down. And all told, he was done talking about Trump's case in a little less than two minutes.


This feels like a moment to pause on for just a moment, because at the precise time that Trump becomes a convicted felon 34 times over, and he is blasting out fundraising emails and saying, I'm a political prisoner, the Biden campaign, which is behind in the polls and is suddenly presented with, in theory, an opportunity to genuinely shake up this race. Those are rare opportunities in a campaign like this. The Biden campaign barely touches it.


They did not go in on it full bore the way that if the positions were reversed, you would expect Republicans to attack Biden on. We don't need to imagine what that would look like. All you have to do is look at how they have responded and reacted to the President's son, Hunter Biden, being indicted on criminal charges himself. They have attacked Hunter Biden. They have suggested that his alleged crimes are the responsibility of his father. They have branded them both part of a Biden crime family. All this comes as Hunter Biden is scheduled to begin his own trial on Monday, making it all but certain that Republicans will continue to use that trial as father to attack President Biden and other Democrats.


I wonder what the rest of the Democratic Party is thinking and saying about this very restrained Biden approach to Trump's conviction.


Well, the minute the verdict came in, my colleague, Nkna Hamas, and I began calling all manner of Democrats, senators, congressmen, state party chairs, strategists, on and on, on, on. And what we heard from, in the end, was a party that really was ready to go on the attack. We heard from Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who said the contrast in the campaign needs to be between a man of lies and chaos versus the guy who's trying to make the country work for everyone. We heard from Betta O'Rourke, the Texas Democrat who ran for President.


Against Biden.


Against Biden, who said, It's the obligation of every Democrat to remind every voter that Donald Trump is now a convicted felon and just how unprecedented this is. We heard from members of Congress, we heard from state legislators, we heard from county and state party chairs. There is essentially no one who thinks that it shouldn't be part of the push that the party at large is making in terms of telling voters about Donald Trump, that they want the words convicted felon to be included in every sentence that has the word Donald Trump in it.


This sounds like leading Democrats saying to Biden, Do more, lean into this moment. Play with this conviction.


The reason they want that is that this conviction has the potential to reach the voters who are not paying attention to the news. We know that Joe Biden is weakest among people who don't read newspapers, who don't follow television news. These are the people who won't pay attention to some speech that Biden gives on a policy topic, but they're going to hear that Trump was convicted. Democrats think it's important to make sure that that gets baked in to how people feel about Donald Trump, especially people who consume very little news.


I mean, all of that seems to potentially point to the idea that President Biden, in this moment, being as conflicted as he is about how to handle this conviction, and as a result, being subtle and not figuring out how to really push on it, might be squandering his last real opportunity to fundamentally change a race that according to almost all the major polls, he's behind in and is in real danger of losing.


It may be too soon to say that he's swandering this because Trump was convicted on Thursday. He's still convicted today. He'll be convicted next week. And so they have not foreclosed on the idea that they will not lean into this. They just aren't doing it right now. But they are running shorter on time every day to make up that ground that you talked about, right? It's trailing in the polls. And so it's too soon to say that they're squandering this particular opportunity, but it's not too soon to say that they've spent a lot of time not making up ground against Donald Trump.


Right. At the moment, it sure looks like the candidate in the lead in this race and with the most in theory, to lose from this conviction, has the most robust plan for trying to capitalize it. That's Donald Trump. Joe Biden, who would seem to have the most to gain from this conviction, seems very inclined to underplay it, be subtle about it, not make it a centerpiece of his candidacy. That's genuinely, I think, for a lot of people, going to be surprising.


Well, there may be one other way to think about this, and that's that the Biden campaign campaign thinks that they're playing this just the right way. Every day that Donald Trump talks about how unfair the conviction was and how unfair the trial was, Joe Biden's campaign thinks that that's helpful for them because Donald Trump is not talking about inflation or the border or issues that are acutely bad for Joe Biden to have at the center of the nation's political discussion. Joe Biden and his campaign are happy to have Trump do 30-minute press conferences where he rants and raves about the judge and the trial and the rules and the jury instruction and all those things that they think make this campaign about Trump himself and not about him saying things to some of these infrequent and low information voters that the Biden campaign thinks will decide the election. If those people were hearing Trump talk about inflation in the border and how Joe Biden has not performed well on those two issues, I think the Biden campaign would be much more worried than if Trump is talking about the trial.


You're saying there's a world where the Biden campaign sees Trump's strategy of talking about this case nonstop as helping not necessarily him, but them?


But them. If Trump was convicted and Ed, that's over. I'm going to talk about the border and the economy. I think the Biden people would be a lot more worried.


We'll read. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.


Thank you, Michael.


We'll be right back. Here's what else you need to another day. In a detailed speech on Friday, President Biden endorsed a plan to end the war in Gaza that would lead to a permanent ceasefire, the phased release of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza. The speech was an attempt by Biden to pressure Israel's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, into accepting the proposal. But two members of Netanyahu's far-right coalition immediately rejected the plan, threatening to quit his government if he accepts it. Netanyahu himself expressed reservations, saying that Israel had not yet completed the job of destroying Hamas. And the African National Congress, the party that freed South Africa from Apartheid and has held power there since 1994, has lost its political monopoly over the country. In the latest election, the party received only 40% of the vote, far less than it got in the last election. Analysts said that high unemployment, shortages of electricity, and rampant crime caused the ANC its once unbreakable support board. To stay in power, the party must now cobble together a coalition government with its rivals. Today's episode was produced by Rachel Quester, Asta Chattervedi, Mujdj Zady, and Diana Wyn.


It was edited by Devon Taylor, contains original music by Marion Lozano, Pat McCusker, and Alisha Baetub, and was engineered by Chris Wood. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Lantferk of Wunderly. That's it for the Daily. I'm Barbaro. See you tomorrow.