As the hush money investigation began, Trump made a dent in North Carolina

Mansi Srivastava/Pool/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media at the end of the day during his criminal trial as jury selection continues in Manhattan Criminal Court on April 19, 2024 in New York City.



CNN

Former President Donald Trump's rally in North Carolina — his first since the start of his money-crime investigation in New York — was postponed Saturday due to concerns about severe weather.

Trump called the Wilmington rally from his plane, his message played over loudspeakers at the rally.

“We are devastated that this could happen, but we want to keep everyone safe,” Trump told supporters. “Looks like there's some thunder and lightning, and it's a big storm, so if you don't mind, I think we're going to have some rain, I'm really upset.”

Although postponed, TrumpMostly confined to a Manhattan courtroom for much of the past week, the stakes of Republicans here in North Carolina have surfaced again and again in the campaign. InvestigationThe presidential campaign is particularly intense.

Speed ​​up Trump's criminal investigation

He held a fundraiser in Charlotte and posted several times on Truth Social about how he thinks presidents should be immune from prosecution. His positions are stacked with the Supreme Court set to hear arguments on April 25 on whether Trump can seek immunity from prosecution in a federal election tampering case.

The first criminal trial of a former president on Saturday kicked off an unprecedented week in American politics. The trial, which will determine whether Trump tried to illegally undermine the 2016 election through a scheme to pay women he allegedly had extramarital affairs, is expected to begin with opening statements on Monday.

Trump's task in New York is clear: convince a jury of seven men and five women that he is innocent of the 34 charges he faces. In battleground states like North Carolina, the challenge for Trump is less direct, but just as threatening: He must persuade voters in these states to ignore any details emerging from his New York trial when deciding the nation's next president. It includes evidence of alleged payments and testimony from her former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, a former Playboy playmate and adult film star.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, ahead of the state's primary election last month, Trump has long hinted at his legal risk. He told the crowd that the 91 charges he faced then (down to 88 now) were “not legitimate”. He said baselessly that the case against him in New York, brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office, was being “handled by the Justice Department for election interference — knock out your political opponent.”

“One thing they don't know is that our people are asking me about it,” Trump asserted at the time.

Trump won the primaries during a convincing Super Tuesday performance. Still, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley managed to win the support of 23% of Republican primary voters in North Carolina, which many in Trump's party said could overlook the broader legal challenges she faces. Three in 10 GOP voters say Trump is unfit to be president if convicted of a felony — a troubling sign for the former president in a state he won by 1.3% over President Joe Biden four years ago.

Trump's campaign pointed out Poll numbers It shows that two-thirds of Americans don't believe he broke any laws.

“The poll shows that the American people see right through the Stalinist tactics employed by Crooked Joe and his cronies,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Leavitt told CNN. “President Trump and our team will continue to fight for the truth in the courtroom while working to win votes on the campaign trail.”

Throughout the dramatic first week of his trial — marked by a series of shocking moments, potential jurors brought to tears by the strain of their duty and including one man who set himself on fire outside court — Trump made it clear. People keep asking him about this case. In theatrical news conferences in front of courtroom cameras and in aggressive postings on social media, Trump repeatedly lashed out at the judge overseeing the case and tested the limits of the gag order, which is aimed at preventing jurors and witnesses from being intimidated.

Trump has also challenged stories from people watching the proceedings without cameras inside the courtroom. In a fundraising speech to supporters, Trump said he walked out of the courtroom on the first day of the trial — and those who witnessed his exit were not supportive. “I was praying without sleep!!” Trump tweeted on Truth Social. As several news outlets reported, the former president fainted during the proceedings.

The judge overseeing the case, Judge Juan Merson, is demanding that Trump be present in the courtroom during the weeks-long trial. The court is in session every weekday except Wednesdays, leaving little windows for Trump to travel and making weekend events like Saturday's postponed Wilmington rally a focal point of his campaign calendar.

“I want to be in New Hampshire. I should be in Georgia. I want to be in North Carolina, South Carolina. I have to campaign in different places,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom this week. “But I've been in a trial all day, and it's really a very unfair trial.”

Trump's statement, however, did not note that the former president appeared more often voluntarily than campaigned in his civil lawsuit proceedings. Trump has kept a remarkably light political schedule throughout the GOP primary, while the legal cases against him have not yet reached this stage.

Regardless of where Trump spends his time, his campaign insists it is preparing a robust operation, including paid teams and volunteers, in each battleground state.

“Our aggressive and experienced operation is focused on turning the vote and highlighting the contrast between Joe Biden's weakness and failures with President Trump's record of success,” Leavitt said.

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