Trump trial could coincide with Republican primaries

A criminal trial for former US President Donald Trump is expected to start about a year from now — around the same time as the Republican primaries. That will create an unprecedented situation in which the 2024 presidential hopeful runs his campaign in parallel with a courtroom battle to clear his name.

How an indictment will affect the Republican Primary

Trump's indictment on fraud-related charges stemming from an alleged hush-money payout to porn star Stormy Daniels could be very damaging for the controversial tycoon-turned-politician. But ironically it could also boost his campaign, depending on how the case affects public opinion.

A poll on voting intentions released at end of March by Quinnipiac University asked Republicans about their preferred presidential candidate.

Trump leads with 47 percent support, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in second place with 33 percent.

While Trump has a commanding lead now, at last year's midterm elections, candidates he endorsed lost many close states. The Republicans face a crisis as they weigh up potential leaders' electability.

Trump hopes to stoke support by claiming he's the victim of a political witch hunt.

The Quinnipiac University survey found 93 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents believe the District Attorney's case against him is mainly politically motivated. Several Republican leaders are already speaking out against the indictment.

The poll shows there is some sympathy for Trump's claims — but on the other hand, some Republicans are looking for a new leader.

What if Trump wins the Republican nomination?

Early analysis predicts a close race if the election ends up with sitting President Joe Biden versus Trump. But some Democratic Party officials believe they have an advantage if Trump is the Republican nominee, as it would drive voters who feel strongly against Trump to the polls. Trump is constantly surrounded by drama — something that could work against him.

The survey respondents were also asked whether Trump should be disqualified from running for president if he is charged with criminal offenses. Overall, 57 percent said yes.

From that perspective, it looks like a Trump indictment would likely work to Biden's advantage.

Instability as trust falters

Many Trump supporters continue to assert the 2020 presidential election won by Biden was stolen. Among Republican voters broadly, distrust of Democratic administrations, and of big media organizations, has become entrenched.

Trump's indictment could deal a further blow to their trust in the justice system. With an increasing number of people losing faith in the political system, the US is likely to become even more split and unstable.

If each new administration swings from one policy extreme to the other, Washington's global leadership will be undermined at a time when the US is struggling with China and Russia to lead the world order.

Trump's trial and the ongoing investigation into his affairs is set to have a profound impact domestically as well as on the world stage.