Last week, former President Donald Trump said he received a target letter from Special Counsel Jack Smith, relating to an ongoing criminal probe into the uprising that took over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

While a target letter does not equal an indictment, it indicates Trump is a subject of prosecutorial interest within the investigation.

Many legal experts have recently made the news rounds saying they expect an indictment to fall in Trump’s lap within weeks, and even Trump himself has forecast that fate.

The former president posted on Truth Social that such letters “almost always mean an arrest and indictment.” 

If criminal charges are made official, they would represent Trump’s third indictment, after he was first criminally charged in New York for allegedly giving hush money to a former adult film star. A second indictment, this time federal, was sent to Trump for the mishandling of classified documents after his time in office.

The motivation behind the indictments varies in explanations depending on the source. While many figures in the Democratic party defend the legitimacy of the claims, others, especially on the Republican side, have called them a “witch hunt” and assure that the cases are politically motivated.

The view which states the indictments are a maneuver to politically hamstring Trump might be an oversimplification of an issue that could grow into other, less obvious results.

Thesis One: Indictments Are Actually Strengthening Trump

Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was put in hisd position by President Joe Biden. This political genealogy has led many Republican commentators to see the current charges being brought against Trump as a gimmick to undermine his political strength.

Yet others are seeing the events as a boost for Trump’s presidential bid.

A GOP senator whose identity was not revealed told The Hill that Smith’s probe is “absolutely” the best thing going for Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump’s popularity among Republican voters has grown parallel to his indictments. His lead over GOP’s second favorite presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis more than doubled since his first indictment became a reality. And, a recent poll puts Trump 35% ahead of DeSantis while that difference was 13% in March before the first indictment.

Trump’s election campaign even got a boost in donations from small-pocket voters after the indictments were announced.

Trump rose to power representing a singularity in the political system. His discourse became accepted by a sector of the population that has grown disenchanted with the promise of traditional politics. Trump voters see an opportunity to break the balance of power that has caused them to feel left behind by the political status quo.

For this sector of the American population, the growing number of indictments for Trump only serves as proof of how broken the system is, and further propels him as the right man to fix it.

A third indictment “creates increased enthusiasm among his supporters and probably brings other voters along who see this as a rotten system,” another anonymous GOP senator told The Hill.

For GOP members who would rather see another presidential candidate for their party, growing accusations from the Department of Justice are becoming a spoke in the wheel.

Thesis Two: The Democrats Want Trump To Run For President

A second view of the issue postulates that Democrats are aware that Trump’s image is being boosted by indictments. In this thesis, they continue to push charges on him because they would prefer to have Trump over any other candidate running against Biden.

“They want him to be the Republican nominee because he is the one who would lose,” said the GOP senator.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said in April that she is confident Biden would win against Trump.

“Politically, for us, it’s helpful if former President Trump is front and center,” she said, while Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said that “obviously, it’s politically helpful.”

Defenders of this thesis believe Biden would turn out victorious for the second time if he runs against Trump, which is not necessarily the case if the GOP candidate is someone else who is a fresh alternative. A poll earlier this year had most Americans stating that they don’t want either Trump or Biden as the next president.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told the outlet that this could very well be the Democratic strategy.

“Maybe their strategy is: ‘Let’s keep indicting him. We’ll build him up because he’s the one candidate who won’t have appeal to Independents.’ And that might be true,” he said.

Image made using Midjourney AI.

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