'Under the gun': Columnist argues that Trump's biggest reason to run in 2024 is staying ‘out of jail’

'Under the gun': Columnist argues that Trump's biggest reason to run in 2024 is staying ‘out of jail’

Almost a year after being voted out of office, former President Donald Trump continues to be the target of investigations — from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. to the Fulton County's DA's office in Georgia to the U.S. House of Representatives. Los Angeles Times opinion columnist Doyle McManus, in a recent column, argues that Trump has a major incentive for running for president in 2024: trying to "stay out of jail."

"Trump remains under the gun," McManus explains. "He's still in search of escape routes. A House committee is examining his attempts to overturn last year's presidential election, including his actions when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6. A prosecutor in Georgia is investigating whether he violated state law against soliciting election fraud when he demanded that officials 'find 11,780 votes' — the number he needed to undo Joe Biden's victory in that state. And prosecutors in New York are looking into allegations that Trump, or at least the closely held family business he runs, committed tax and bank fraud."

But despite all that, McManus adds, it is a mistake for Trump's critics to "count him out."

"Throughout his epic, scandal-ridden career," McManus observes, "Donald Trump has compiled an astonishing record of impunity, constantly staying one jump ahead of prosecutors, plaintiffs and creditors. He is the only president to be impeached twice, and acquitted twice by the votes of Republican senators. He spent almost three years under investigation for what looked like collusion with Russia, only to walk away scot-free."

McManus continues, "His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, went to prison for paying hush money to an adult entertainer known as Stormy Daniels, but 'Individual-1,' the man who ordered him to write the check, was never held accountable. That record of escapes would make Houdini envious."

The U.S. Department of Justice, as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller noted when testifying before Congress, has a policy against prosecuting a sitting president. But Trump hasn't been a sitting president since January 20, when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago and Joe Biden was sworn in as president — and McManus stresses that avoiding a possible DOJ prosecution gives Trump incentive to run in 2024.

"As long as he's running — or even sort of running —Trump can denounce every inquest and subpoena as just another part of a political vendetta," McManus observes. "It's a way to hold his troops together — and to make every prosecutor think twice. He's notching up another presidential first: He's running for reelection to stay out of jail."

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