“Trump Says He Would Stay in 2024 Race if Indicted”


Former President Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that he would not drop out of the 2024 presidential race if he was indicted in one of several investigations he is facing.

Mr. Trump made the comments to a group of conservative media before his speech to the Conservative Political Action Coalition conference in National Harbor, Md. It was the first time Mr. Trump spoke publicly about how he would respond if he was indicted while actively seeking the presidency, an event that would roil the 2024 campaign.

Mr. Trump is facing two state investigations — one in New York City and one in Fulton County, Ga. — as well as two federal investigations led by Jack Smith, a special prosecutor. Mr. Smith is investigating Mr. Trump’s attempt to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after losing the 2020 election, as well as Mr. Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents and presidential material at his private club, Mar-a-Lago.

The precise status of the efforts is unclear, but the two state investigations are believed to be in advanced stages.

Mr. Trump was definitive when asked Saturday whether he would stay in the race if one of the prosecutors brought an indictment. “Oh absolutely. I wouldn’t even think about leaving,” he said, adding that he believed an indictment would increase his poll numbers.

It isn’t unusual for a candidate who is facing legal problems to say they will stay in a race regardless of whether they are prosecuted or to claim that an investigation is politically motivated. But it is uncharted territory for a former president running as the poll leader in primaries to intertwine a candidacy with a defense against investigations.

Several people close to Mr. Trump have said he believes his presidential campaign can be used as a cudgel to hit back against the prosecutors. In his remarks on Saturday, Mr. Trump repeatedly cast the prosecutors as corrupt and politically motivated, citing no evidence. As he has for years, he cast the investigations not as result of his own actions, but as an effort to silence the voices of his supporters.

“I am your warrior. I am your justice,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, before appearing to promise payback if elected to a new term. “And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

He went on to describe the campaign in stark, nearly apocalyptic terms: “This is it, either they win or we win. And if they win, we no longer have a country.”

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