Trump flips out on 'disloyal' Taylor Swift with claim he 'made her so much money' – Raw Story

Tom Boggioni is a writer, born, raised and living in San Diego — where he attended San Diego State University. Prior to writing for Raw Story, he wrote for FireDogLake, blogged as TBogg, and worked in banking, marketing and construction.

Just hours before pop singer Taylor Swift will be attending the Super Bowl to watch her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, play for the Kansas City Chiefs, Donald Trump lashed out at her and called her "disloyal."

Swift, who has become a bête noire for conservatives over fears she may endorse President Joe Biden — and because they occasionally have to see her briefly during Chiefs' games — has apparently gotten deep inside the former president's head too which likely led to the Truth Social attack.

According to the former president, he had a major hand in making her phenomenally rich.
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"I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists. Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will," he wrote.

"There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money. Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me!" he added.
RELATED: Ego-bruised Trump insists to aides he's 'more popular' than Taylor Swift: report

On Jan. 6, 2021, as former President Donald Trump rallied his supporters, he used a statistic that, though false, was making the rounds: “In Pennsylvania, you had 205,000 more votes than you had voters,” he screamed, throwing his arms wide open in front of thousands of angry followers. “This is a mathematical impossibility unless you want to say it’s a total fraud.”
The number appears to be the work of Heather Honey, a Pennsylvania-based “election integrity” investigator whose research has achieved a remarkable level of national salience among the far right, despite being replete with errors. The 205,000 figure, for example, is “false” according to the Department of Justice, and was based on incomplete data the state says can’t be used for this type of analysis. Honey herself has revised the discrepancy downward. While Honey’s current estimate is almost half of what it once was, it’s still inaccurate and the original number is also still routinely cited as fact.
“There were 202,377 MORE ‘votes’ cast, than actual REAL VOTERS THAT VOTED,” reads a November 2023 post on X from a popular rightwing account. It was reposted more than 13,000 times.
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Honey has been among the most effective advocates for right-wing election talking points. Time after time, her research has fed into viral allegations about election integrity, fueling conservative pressure campaigns, forcing fact-checkers and public officials to attempt to piece together a more accurate picture and undermining confidence in long-trusted election practices. Often, her conclusions are misleading or based on incomplete information.
In the past year, working with a network of election integrity groups organized by conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, Honey has had perhaps the most success with her latest research: A 29-page report on the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, sent to Republican secretaries of state and legislators. Her information appears to have influenced the decision of several member states to withdraw from ERIC, an interstate program that election officials widely regard as the nation’s best tool to keep voter rolls up-to-date and free of bloat.
An analysis by Votebeat and Spotlight PA found the report’s conclusions are false, often based on out-of-context examples, and that her sweeping generalizations are frequently not backed by the data she presents. Presented with Votebeat’s and Spotlight PA’s findings — the product of redoing her many calculations and fact-checking the analysis she has offered to public officials — Honey defended her work.
Despite how widespread her research has become, Honey described herself in emails to Votebeat and Spotlight PA as “an ordinary citizen working hard to do what I can to restore confidence in elections.”
When asked for a final comment, she accused Votebeat of “slander” and personal attacks. “Who is pressuring you to write this hit piece? What is your goal?”
The way that Honey relies on real-but-incomplete data is a hallmark of those who spread misinformation, experts say.
“The fundamental misconception people have about misinformation is that misinformation is about the facts in front of you,” said Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public who studies mis- and disinformation. Instead, Caulfield said, popular misinformation often relies on leaving out crucial details.
Calling it “misrepresented evidence,” Caulfield likened Honey’s report to a prosecutor accurately telling a jury that they discovered a murder weapon in a suspect’s possession but failing to mention that the fingerprints on it belonged to someone else.
“You can’t look at that and say, ‘The knife is real, we found the knife,’ but not look at it and mention you found fingerprints that would undermine the importance of the evidence,” he said.
Activated by 2020
As Honey tells her own origin story, she was standing in line at her polling place in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 3, 2020, behind an older couple when her journey to election integrity investigator began.
“It really kind of struck me that, you know, this woman who just waited in line for an hour was told ‘oh, you have to cast a provisional ballot,’” Honey said on Mitchell’s “Who’s Counting” podcast in May 2022. She told Mitchell she wondered if the provisional would be rejected. “So it just got me a little bit worked up and I went home and I started doing, I mean, what I do.”
Honey has operated Haystack Investigations — a private investigations and supply-chain auditing consultancy — since 2017, her LinkedIn profile shows. Her website offers services ranging from supply chain audits to social media investigations.
Using what she’s described as “open-source investigation” skills, Honey began researching Pennsylvania’s election laws and requesting data from the Pennsylvania Department of State in November 2020. Soon after, she decided to reach out to her state representative, Frank Ryan, a Republican, with her findings.
“I said ‘look, here are the things that I found,’” she told Mitchell. One of those things was “that there were more ballots reported than what we found in the voter files.”
Honey told Mitchell that Ryan gathered other representatives together to show them her work — that is, a calculation purporting to show a discrepancy between the number of ballots cast in the 2020 election and the number of people the Pennsylvania roll recorded as having voted.
Ryan did not respond to an interview request, though Mitchell’s version closely mirrors his public telling of events, and emails — on which Honey is included — show Ryan passed this information onto U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican who was in close contact with Trump at the time. According to the final report of the January 6 committee, Trump would repeat the claim that Pennsylvania had more votes than voters numerous times, which was part of the Department of Justice indictment against him alleging election interference.
Honey told Votebeat and Spotlight PA that Ryan was receiving information from multiple sources at the time, but she did not directly dispute that Trump’s figures originated with her work.
Honey’s latest calculation of the discrepancy, revised after straggling counties uploaded fresher records, sits at around 121,000. Trump cited that number, and Honey’s work directly, in a document he released in January claiming fraud in swing states in 2020.
Still, election administrators in Pennsylvania say this number is based on a flawed analysis.
Voter roll data is constantly updated to account for moves, deaths, and other issues of eligibility, which stops in the weeks just before an election and resumes again immediately after, the Department of State and county election directors explained. The roll also does not contain information about some voters whose identity must legally be kept confidential, such as victims of abuse. In other words, the state’s voter roll at any one point in time doesn’t reflect a complete record of who voted in the last election. But Honey’s analysis treats the roll as if it does.
For example, if a voter in Philadelphia moved to New Jersey the day after the 2020 election, the Philadelphia Board of Elections would cancel their registration. And even though they legitimately cast a ballot in Philadelphia on Election Day, their voter history would not appear in the voter roll system after that because they have been removed from the rolls.
Given these limitations, the Department of State told Votebeat and Spotlight PA, Honey’s method of analysis is “not an accurate way to reconcile votes cast to the number of voters who participated in any individual election” and that the system “was not intended” for this purpose. The state pushed back on the figure at the time, but that didn’t stop it from spreading.
As Honey’s research gained traction, other election-integrity advocates began to take notice and solicit her for work. She was paid as a subcontractor in Arizona for Cyber Ninjas, the company hired by that state’s Senate to investigate the 2020 election in Maricopa County. That investigation ultimately did not prove any fraud. Documents from it — obtained by American Oversight and the Arizona Republic — show she was a “manager” and billed tens of thousands of dollars for her work, though it is unclear how much she was eventually paid.
Cyber Ninjas subsequently went out of business, but Honey’s work continued.
Days before the 2022 midterm elections, Honey released a report — through her election integrity research organization, Verity Vote — claiming nearly a quarter of a million ballots in Pennsylvania had been sent to “unverified” voters. Rep. Ryan again picked up the information in a letter to the Department of State. It was then echoed by Trump, and conservative website the Gateway Pundit pointed to it as evidence that the election was fraudulent and should be decertified.
The report “flagrantly misrepresents” how the system works, the Department of State — which rebutted it after it gained traction online — said at the time. Voters were labeled as “NV” or “not verified” in the state’s voter management system, but as the Associated Press reported, the label is for internal workflow purposes and typically means the identification provided by the voter is still being verified by county workers so their ballots can be counted.
A more refined ERIC criticism
In 2022, as ERIC became the subject of right-wing fury, Honey began her own research.
The program was formed in 2012 as a project at the Pew Research Center before becoming an independent nonprofit. It continues to be governed by member states, and uses state voter rolls, death records, motor vehicle records, and other information to cross-check state voter rolls for accuracy. It also identifies voters who may be eligible to vote but unregistered — referred to as EBUs — and requires states to reach out to those potential voters about registering.
ERIC does not add or remove any voters itself. It only provides lists of voters to states, and states and counties then verify the accuracy of ERIC information before they remove voters from the rolls. Voters who register in response to the outreach must meet all voter registration requirements.
By June 2022, ERIC had grown to include 33 states and the District of Columbia. Prior to conservative attacks — including those fueled by Honey’s research — it drew bipartisan praise from officials for its ability to help clean voter rolls, including from some of those same officials who would take up Honey’s talking points.
In January 2022, an article from the right-wing outlet the Gateway Pundit accused ERIC of being “a left-wing voter registration drive disguised as voter roll clean up.” Louisiana soon after announced it was suspending its membership. Officials told Votebeat at the time the decision was unrelated to the coverage but that “numerous” experts on “election stuff” had advised the state to leave ERIC, office spokesman John Tobler said.
Louisiana would be the only state to part with the program for several months after the Gateway Pundit’s story was published. In the interim, Honey released her report, offering apparent backing to the charges laid out by the site.
While it reached many of the same conclusions as the Gateway Pundit, Honey’s report offered a more professionalized critique of ERIC with historical research, original first-hand documentation, and data analysis. It appears to have contributed to Virginia, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana withdrawing from the compact, as well as North Carolina’s decision to halt its process of joining.
Flaws and omissions in Honey’s ERIC report
In June 2022, Mitchell — a conservative attorney who represented Trump in Georgia in 2020 — hosted a conference in Washington, D.C. There, Honey gave a presentation on ERIC to several secretaries of state or their representatives, according to information obtained by Documented, a D.C.-based investigative news outlet, and provided to Votebeat and Spotlight PA.
Mitchell did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
At the same time, Honey released her ERIC report on her website.
The report repeatedly asserts misleading claims. For example, she writes “after 10 years of ERIC, there is no evidence that it has led to an improvement in accuracy or clean voter rolls.” She attempts to prove that by comparing the number of voter roll removals in ERIC states vs. non-ERIC states. That comparison, however, relies entirely on a single metric — the number of removals in one category released in one year.
She claims that her research — using data released bi-annually by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) — shows that ERIC states removed proportionally fewer voters who had moved out of their voting districts than non-ERIC states had in the same time period.
Charles Stewart, a professor of political science at MIT who studies elections and works with EAC data, says the data shouldn’t be used in this way. It is often unreliable because it contains gaps and basic mathematical errors, and sometimes doesn’t match what states independently report. Stewart is a member of ERIC’s Research Advisory Board, which advises the organization on how it can measure its performance. He also disagreed with the premise of Honey’s analysis, since ERIC is not responsible for removing any voter from the voter rolls and ERIC member states are “at the mercy” of local jurisdictions like counties that actually act on the data ERIC provides.
But the data can provide a rough measure of ERIC’s performance. Using data available to Honey at the time of her report, Votebeat and Spotlight PA repeated her analysis and found that the conclusion of her report is misleading. She appears to have chosen the singular datapoint that supported her claim, out of a series of voter-removal metrics in the same data set. And, despite the availability of multiple years of such data, Honey used only one — 2020, an outlier year. Taken together, Honey left out 11 of 12 relevant data points in her report.
Votebeat’s and Spotlight PA’s analysis, which used all 12 data points available at the time her report was published, suggests exactly the opposite: ERIC states remove a higher percentage of voters from the rolls than non-ERIC states. Data from a more recent year — 2022 — also supports that conclusion.
Asked to explain her selective use of data, Honey did not respond to some questions and offered answers to others that contradict the logic of her analysis. For example, asked to explain why she only used a single metric from one year, Honey said in an email that it would be inappropriate to analyze one of the other categories — removal of voters who died — in state-to-state comparisons, since some states, like Pennsylvania, do not use ERIC’s death data. But Honey’s analysis has the same flaw, as not all ERIC member states use ERIC’s moved-voter data uniformly, either.
Honey did not address why she only analyzed the EAC’s data from one year, when four were available at the time she published her report.
Elsewhere in the report, Honey claims that the outreach to eligible but unregistered residents, or EBUs, that ERIC requires member states to conduct “results in significant swelling of voter rolls,” and that “EBU additions consistently exceed suggested removals by ten times.”
But available data doesn’t support Honey’s conclusions.
“The report is obsessed with EBUs,” Stewart said. “I just take, overall, the report as part of building the case that ERIC is this left wing organization that is trying to get Democrats onto the voter rolls.”
To conclude additions exceed removals by “ten times,” Honey shows a graph of data from ERIC’s website. The wording of the title of the graph calls these “additions and removals instigated by ERIC participation,” as though all of the numbers displayed are actual voters removed from or added to rolls. But ERIC only supplies information about voters who may need to be removed or are eligible to register to vote — state and county election offices determine which are valid and make any changes themselves. In the case of eligible but unregistered voters, the state simply sends a mailer to the identified person informing them of their eligibility, and the voter must take action from there. Honey acknowledges elsewhere in the report that removal and eligible-voter data ERIC provides to states are merely “suggest[ions].”
Her graph also leaves out two other categories of ERIC’s list maintenance recommendations to states. In reality, they’ve recommended roughly 41 million records be updated and identified roughly 57 million voters who may be eligible.
Votebeat performed a more accurate analysis of ERIC’s effect on voter roll additions, using data showing net changes to voter rolls, rather than the number of people who were sent mail.
The EAC’s data — which Honey uses elsewhere in her report, though not for this analysis — shows that there is typically less than 1 percentage point of difference between ERIC and non-ERIC states when it comes to registering new voters.
This figure aligns with academic research on the topic. A study of Pennsylvania’s ERIC mailings, published in 2020, found they resulted in only a 1 percentage point increase in registration.
Elsewhere, Honey’s report relies on real data to make inaccurate conclusions or omits relevant and readily-available context.
For instance, she accurately states that Pennsylvania’s and Michigan’s secretaries of state received voter outreach grants from nonprofits dispersing money from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Honey then incorrectly claims the grants were given to those states “in order to gain access to data needed to inflate the Democrat voter rolls and drive Democrat turnout.” Honey did not respond to a request to provide evidence of that claim.
The portion of Pennsylvania voters registered as Democrats went down in 2020, as it has every year for more than a decade. Michigan voters do not register by party, so there are no “Democrat voter rolls” there. And a recent study from data scientists at the University of California Los Angeles found that the areas that received grants funded by Zuckerberg saw less than a 0.13 percentage point increase in voter turnout — ultimately significantly fewer votes than would be needed to swing the election even if they all had voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Honey also leaves out important context. For example, she quotes a 2021 Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau report which found many duplicate and erroneous voter registrations in the file ERIC sent to that state for voters who should potentially be removed.
Honey quotes this accurately but leaves out other parts of the report that reflect positively on ERIC, such as the state elections office saying ERIC does a better job “identifying individuals whose voter registration records may need to be inactivated or who may have more than one active voter registration record” than it does. Among its conclusions, the report says the state’s voter rolls would be more accurate if it used ERIC’s data more often.
Honey said the issues addressed by the Wisconsin agency were “very different things” than what she investigated in her report, but did not elaborate on why she didn’t include the positive aspects.
Honey’s claims gain traction
Despite the flaws in Honey’s report, it quickly gained traction, making its way across conservative media and into the hands of influential politicians and officials.
“Thank you for reading through this information!” a local Virginia GOP committeewoman wrote about Honey’s report in a March 2023 email to a state representative, expressing “hope” it would be shared with the Virginia state elections board. It ultimately was.
Records obtained by Documented also show that Honey’s influence grew through the help of Mitchell. In June 2022, Mitchell organized the event for secretaries of state in Washington, D.C. Officials from Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, and West Virginia were scheduled to attend, according to records obtained by Documented, which also show that Mitchell’s group paid for a Texas secretary of state official’s travel to the event. Records obtained by Votebeat and Spotlight PA show Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft was out of office that day for an unspecified “meeting in DC.” Louisiana announced its official withdrawal from ERIC a month later.
As officials and activists took notice of the report, Honey’s work began to be cited by influential outlets and figures in conservative media, including The Federalist.
“Per government watchdog Verity Vote, ERIC doesn’t actually clean states’ voter rolls, but rather inflates them,” the publication wrote in March 2023, using the name of the entity through which Honey puts out her election-related research.
Her work also made appearances in a series of articles critiquing ERIC by Hayden Ludwig, director of policy research at Restoration of America — a conservative Christian non-profit focused on the challenges presented by “the elite,” “Marxist neo-liberals” and “Communist China.”
And Judicial Watch, an influential conservative legal watchdog group, cited it in a white paper in March 2023. “States that do not participate in ERIC had a higher rate of identifying and removing from voter registration rolls individuals who relocated out of a jurisdiction than ERIC member states,” Judicial Watch wrote.
Policymakers took notice of the report as well.
In 2018, Ashcroft, a Republican, said the state’s membership in ERIC “will help affirm voters are eligible and registered in the right location, identify potential duplicate registrations and identify unregistered voters so we can help them get registered.”
But last February, Honey gave Ashcroft a private presentation on her report, emails obtained by Documented and Votebeat/Spotlight PA show.
A month later, Ashcroft announced Missouri’s withdrawal, saying in part that it was because ERIC was “adding names to voter rolls” — language similar to the claims in Honey’s report. Missouri’s number of registered voters increased by less than two percent in the time it was part of ERIC. The state’s Republican state auditor recently criticized Ashcroft for the decision in a report, which cited the benefit of ERIC’s data in maintaining accurate voter rolls. Ashcroft did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Honey’s report was not the sole reason any state withdrew from ERIC. No state election official — even those who met with her or received her report and appear to have adopted some of her language — explicitly cited her research. But her report and advocacy appears to have influenced several states.
In January of last year, Devvie Duke, a member of the Texas GOP and an ERIC task force, said in a Zoom meeting that she had lined up ERIC training with Heather Honey “so we can be informed and productive when we’re writing.” She paused. “Or, going to see our legislators in support of legislation getting rid of ERIC.”
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, who wrote the bill that pulled Texas out of ERIC, participated in that meeting, where he was introduced as “a regular” at the task force’s sessions.
Duke, who did not respond to a request for comment, is currently running for a seat in the Texas state House. Her campaign material claims that it was “through Devvie’s work that Texas terminated its membership” in ERIC, which she called a “liberal voter registration scheme.”
In Virginia, Susan Beals — a former Republican state Senate aide and now the commissioner for the state Department of Elections — also received the report last March from a member of the state House, according to an email obtained by Votebeat and Spotlight PA. A letter obtained by Virginia Public Media shows that when Beals withdrew from ERIC, some of her reasoning was worded similarly to the contents of the email. Beals did not respond to a request for an interview.
Internal communications from an election integrity network in North Carolina — obtained by Documented and shared with Votebeat and Spotlight PA — show that Honey met with a group of legislators about a bill to prevent the state from joining ERIC, and also met with at least some of members of the state Senate who would later vote for the measure.
And language mirroring Honey’s research has also appeared in the capitol building of her home state, Pennsylvania, where state Sen. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) said last March that non-ERIC states were doing a better job cleaning voter rolls than ERIC states, though he did not cite any evidence.
Dush did not respond to a request for comment.
Friends in high places, and a new frontier
Honey has certainly been successful in getting her information in front of influential officials in a way her peers have not, forming connections with secretaries of state, their staffs, state lawmakers, U.S. Senate candidates and congressmen. Her influence, therefore, is likely to continue.
For example, she recently gave a talk in Pennsylvania to the Lycoming County Republican Committee, attended by U.S. Rep. Dan Mueser, who called it an “important presentation” on “securing and protecting the voting system.” She also appears to have provided draft language for a bill in June 2021 to state Reps. Seth Grove and Russ Diamond, according to records obtained by American Oversight, a left-leaning watchdog group.
Honey also leads a local organization, PA Fair Elections, which hosts weekly Zoom discussions on election issues and organizes activists. Recent meetings have focused on how to advocate post-election hand counts to county commissioners, though some attract public officials, including at least two state representatives, a Commonwealth Court judge, and county commissioners.
Ahead of the 2024 election, her work is expanding beyond ERIC to include research and advocacy about ballots sent to and from voters living overseas, including military voters.
In addition to authoring a report on the subject, which she published in September 2022, she filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of State, with the support of an attorney from the Thomas More Society. It alleged the department was violating federal law by not requiring identification for some overseas voters.
An attorney for Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office, who handled the complaint, dismissed it in November, offering that the complaint was more of an objection to federal law rather than an accusation that existing law was being violated. Honey is now appealing that decision to Commonwealth Court.
She’s also exporting this advocacy to states outside the commonwealth. In August, she gave a presentation on overseas voters to the Virginia coalition affiliated with Mitchell’s election integrity network, according to records reviewed by Documented.
A now-deleted post from the North Carolina–based Asheville Tea Party, whom Honey worked with to contact legislators in that state, shows that she also gave a presentation in April on military and overseas voters at the request of Mitchell.
Meeting notes posted to the Asheville Tea Party’s website indicate Honey explained that her concern was that while people assume the ballots are from military voters, most of them come from overseas citizens, many of whom were likely unverified.
“These newer election officials just rubber-stamp them and don’t do anything to verify,” she said, according to meeting notes. “It’s the non-military that we need to really worry about.”
Honey’s work focused on influencing local election policy also continues.
At the first PA Fair Elections meeting of the year, Honey kicked off the meeting by talking about what changes members needed to push for in their counties, including pressuring election offices to conduct their required post-election audit — a recount of 2% of all ballots — by hand count. It is currently done with a mix of hand counting and machine tabulation.
“There are 104 days till the primary, so these things we are talking about, we are very much hoping to have them in place for the primary so we can work out any kinks,” she told the group of roughly four dozen. “If we can roll them out in the primary, we can hopefully make improvements to them by the general.”
Graphics and data analysis for this story were done using data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Election Administration and Voting Survey. Specifically, state-level data on the number of reported registrations, voting age population, overall removals, removals due to voter death, removals due to voter moving out of jurisdiction, and new valid registrations were extracted from the 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022 datasets. EAVS data should be used and viewed with caution, as it is a voluntary survey and often incomplete or inaccurate.
Data on overall removals, removals due to voter death, removals due to voter moving out of jurisdiction, and new valid registrations was then grouped by each state’s ERIC membership status for a given report period. Those figures were then divided by the aggregate reported registrations for the group of states. Reported registrations are the actual number of registered voters a given jurisdiction reports in response to the survey. The voting age population is an estimate of the number of persons eligible to vote, based on census data.
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Carter Walker is a reporter for Votebeat in partnership with Spotlight PA. Contact Carter at [email protected].
Jason Armesto — a reporter for The Daily Progress, a newspaper in Virginia — contributed to this report.
Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to reporting the nuanced truth about elections and voting at a time of crisis in America.…

It’s hard to imagine anything wearing down the bravado of Donald Trump, but will his legal troubles play poorly in a general election, leading him to lose again in November 2024?
Or might the current Republican front runner go out a different way?
At present, Trump stands accused of 91 charges in four felony cases, testing his political death-defying ability.
So far, the primary campaign has been a display of Trump’s political impunity, with the former president having dispatched all major challengers, except for Nikki Haley, who’s running 32 points behind him in South Carolina, her home state. That’s the next primary, on Feb. 24.
“He is a tank. He is a boulder. I don't think there is literally anything that can happen to this man that would make him lose because he has such a chokehold on the Republican Party,” said Amani Wells-Onyioha, operations director at Democratic political firm Sole Strategies.
But others still consider him vulnerable to defeat — just not exactly in the way you might think.
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“There's a very real possibility that he gets convicted of one of these and is looking at prison time,” said Nicholas Creel, assistant professor of business law at Georgia College and State University. “When we get to the hypothetical point of him needing to take office, we've got to figure out now, is he actually above the law. The Supreme Court will have to step in.
“There is a very, very real possibility that a Supreme Court majority — probably a five-four ruling — could say you still have to face the music, Mr. President, and if we enter political paralysis, that's because we have chosen that you would be the president in prison,” Creel continued.
Here are 11 other scenarios where Trump fails for a second straight time to get back to the White House — without losing the 2024 general election:
This is highly unlikely, but not impossible.
Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution, author of “Primary Politics: Everything you need to know about how America nominates its presidential candidates,” notes that even on delegate-rich Super Tuesday, March 5, only two states (Alaska and Colorado) award delegates proportionate to the vote.
The other 13 states and a territory use a different system, which favors Trump.
“The remaining states use some sort of winner take all or winner take most system,” she wrote. “For instance, in delegate rich California, if a candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, they get all the delegates. If not, the delegates are awarded proportionally. In a two-person race Trump is likely to win many delegates.”
Then what is Haley doing?
Republican presidential candidate, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, during a campaign event at the Franklin VFW on Jan. 22, 2024, in Franklin, New Hampshire. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“In the months before the convention Trump may be convicted of one or more crimes,” she wrote. “It’s hard to predict how his loyal base will react. So far Trump’s indictments have only made them more loyal and there’s no reason to believe that convictions would change their minds. Nonetheless a conviction would certainly play into Haley’s critique of him as the chaos candidate. And she may be thinking she’d be the last person standing.”
Or she’s laying the groundwork for a run in 2028.
Republicans are saying there’s no chance of this, according to NBC News. Morton Blackwell, a member of the Republican National Committee’s convention rules committee since 1988, said convention rules can be changed but it won’t happen — “absent a cement truck coming around the corner and killing the nominee.”
But James Long, professor of political science at the University of Washington, has said Trump supporters might have to ask themselves some tough questions amid the various indictments and Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior.
“Everyone saying they’re going to support Trump is going to have to face the reality that this is going to get worse and worse for him, and they’re going to have to think about whether or not he’s a credible winner in the (general) election,” Long said. “And they’re going to have to decide if they care more about him as a person, or they care more about winning.”
A recent CNN poll, however, showed Trump ahead of President Joe Biden by four percentage points.
As George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote, Trump “is one of the most recognized figures in the world. He would have to go to Mars to live incognito. It is facially absurd.”
As outlandish as it may sound, Trump could theoretically find refuge from legal threats in a country that’s not so friendly to the United States — but potentially friendly to Trump.
Think Russia. China. Saudi Arabia. Even — dare one say it — North Korea. Unlike most people in legal peril, Trump has massive amounts of money and the physical means — specifically, his own “Trump Force One” Boeing 757 — to get to a place beyond the reach of special counsel Jack Smith, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis or the U.S. justice system, writ large.
Trump ally Tucker Carlson, it’s worth noting, was welcomed by Russia to interview President Vladimir Putin at a time when the Russian government has for months detained two American journalists — the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty editor Alsu Kurmasheva. News organizations and press freedom advocates have roundly condemned the detentions as unjust, with the Wall Street Journal saying that Russia has arbitrarily and wrongfully detained” Gershkovich “for doing his job as a journalist.”
And in addition to the Russias and Chinas of the world, there are dozens of other nations that don’t have extradition treaties with the United States, which makes it extremely difficult for the U.S. law enforcement officials to spirit a wanted man into custody and back to American soil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) looks at then-President Donald Trump during the welcoming ceremony prior to the G20 Summit's Plenary Meeting on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Of course, such a drastic move by Trump would all but guarantee that he could never again return to the United States as a free man.
But Trump has well-established business ties in numerous foreign countries and could ostensibly live like a fugitive king in a welcoming nation.
And in October 2020, days before the election he wouldn’t win, Trump himself floated the idea of becoming an ex-pat: “Could you imagine if I lose? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”
Said Wells-Onyioha: “If he doesn't want to face charges, I can see him attempting to flee. Trump genuinely feels like the rules don't apply to him, so I think that there's nothing that he won't do. I don't think he wants to face any accountability or any repercussions for any of the things that he's done thus far, so I can see him trying to flee.”
In actuality, it’s much more likely that Trump’s legal team will just try to delay the court proceedings as long as possible, John Geer, dean of the college of arts and science and professor of political science and public policy and education at Vanderbilt University, has said.
“(Trump) can tie the legal system up for a long time, so that’s what I suspect he'll end up doing,” Geer said.
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Last month, Trump was hit with an $83.3 million verdict by a jury that found Trump liable for defaming a woman — for a second time — about what a previous jury determined was sexual assault.
Trump faces a potentially much larger verdict for what a judge has ruled was fraud involving his business interests in New York. The judge has delayed a verdict on damages after a report that a Trump finance executive planned to plead guilty to perjury.
Trump is scheduled to go on trial March 25 in New York on charges that he falsified financial records to hide payments — prior to being elected President in 2016 — to porn performer Stormy Daniels for staying quiet about an alleged affair.
A March 4 trial date on federal election subversion charges against Trump was delayed for courts to consider Trump’s claim of presidential immunity. A federal appeals court unanimously found no such privilege. The next step is the Supreme Court, which could choose not to take the case and let the appeals court ruling stand.
The start date is uncertain for Trump’s federal trial on charges of illegally retaining classified documents after he left the White House. The judge set a trial date for May but has suggested she might move that back as Trump’s lawyers say they need more time to review “voluminous” evidence.
A Georgia election interference case against Trump is delayed by allegations that the Fulton County District Attorney had a relationship that created a conflict of interest. A hearing is scheduled Feb. 15 on Trump’s motion to dismiss the case over the relationship and alleged financial improprieties.
When Americans discuss age and the presidency, it’s usually about President Joe Biden, the nation’s first octogenarian commander-in-chief who will be 82 years old on Inauguration Day 2025.
But Trump, 77, is not a young man, either.
Trump turns 78 in June. If elected president this year, Trump would become the oldest president in history at the time he took office, surpassing Biden.
The average age of death for a man who’s served as president of the United States is about 72 years old, according to Statista, and only 12 out of the 45 U.S. presidents have lived to celebrate their 80th birthday.
So while the topic itself is grim, even uncouth, the odds of Trump falling gravely ill or dying before Election Day 2024 are not insignificant.
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What would happen next upon either scenario would largely be a function of the point in time Trump stopped running.
Kamarck has written that state election officials are allowed to adjust filing deadlines for new candidates if the frontrunner dies or is incapacitated. For some of the states that haven’t yet conducted their nominating contests, they could also move back their primaries.
If Trump couldn’t continue after winning enough primary votes to become the presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, the nation would almost certainly gird for a brokered Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for mid-July in Milwaukee, Wis.
And if Trump officially secured the GOP nomination, but couldn’t stand for election in November 2024, a select group of Republican Party bigwigs would likely convene to choose a replacement — whether that was Trump’s vice presidential running mate, or someone else.
Even more grim is the specter of assassination, an ever-present specter for presidents and presidential candidates alike.
Four presidents — John F. Kennedy, William McKinley, James Garfield and Abraham Lincoln — died after being shot.
Ronald Reagan, in 1981, could have been the fifth assassinated president but for the quick reactions of law enforcement and medical personnel.
Last August, while attempting to serve a warrant, FBI agents shot and killed a Utah man who had allegedly made “credible” threats against Biden.
High-profile presidential candidates also come under threat. The most notable modern example is that of Robert F. Kennedy, who died in 1968 after being shot at a campaign event. (Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is now running for president as an independent, and he has publicly stated that he believes his father’s convicted killer isn’t the man who committed the crime.)
Trump, like every past president and many presidential candidates, receives U.S. Secret Service protection and will ostensibly be entitled to such protection even if he’s convicted of a crime and sent to prison or home detention.
Scott Galloway made this prediction on the popular podcast Pivot, which he hosts with journalist Kara Swisher:
Trump, Galloway said last year, "has a very nice life, and his life can be going back to golf and sycophants and having sex with porn stars. … Or he can live under the threat of prison. The [political] momentum he has is real leverage and power. And I think he’s going to cash that leverage and power in for a plea deal that includes no jail time.”
With Trump is facing state charges in Georgia and New York, he wouldn’t be able to escape by pardoning himself as president — something he could attempt to do for the federal-level charges he faces. Therefore, Trump’s calculus may change.
Creel noted Spiro Agnew’s resignation from the vice presidency in 1973 after facing the threat of jail for his corruption while governor of Maryland.
“One of the parts of the agreement was [to] resign, get out of politics forever, and we will not pursue this,” he said. “So with a more rational defendant, that would absolutely be something that's on the table. That's something Jack Smith would be bringing to Trump, but for one, we're not dealing with a particularly rational individual. Two, this scenario is significantly different in that we have state-level charges also facing him. And so because they can't really immunize him against that at the state level, the incentive to take that sort of a deal is greatly diminished.”
Wells-Onyioha said Trump maybe – maybe – would come to the realization that prison, and the potential life-long loss of his freedom, is a real and unpalatable possibility.
“I can see them coming up with some sort of like plea agreement, where in exchange for dropping out of the race, they will let him be on probation or something like that,” she said. “I can see that happening. But even so, I'm not even sure if he would take that deal.”
The Constitution’s 25th Amendment spells out the succession plan if a president dies or is removed from office, which means the vice president takes over.
If the vice president and his cabinet determine that the president is unable to discharge his duties as president — say, being in prison — Congress will have 48 hours to convene and 21 days to decide if the president is fit to hold office. It can remove him by a two-thirds vote.
“You can even see his cabinet exercising the 25th Amendment, saying, look, you're incapacitated. You're not capable because you're needing to go to prison or are in prison. You're not capable of fulfilling the oath of office, therefore, we're invoking [the] 25th Amendment and removing you from office that way, and so you would see whoever his vice president elect is [at] that point stepping up,” Creel said.
If Trump wins the 2024 election, the Supreme Court will ultimately need to decide if a sitting president is immune from state-level prosecution in Georgia and New York, and the Court might rule against his ability to serve as president.
Supreme Court 2022, Image via Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
“Functionally this would mean Trump is the legitimate president but would still be forced to carry out a sentence in a state prison,” Creel said. “In that scenario, it’s difficult to see how he wouldn’t be either impeached and convicted or otherwise removed via the 25th Amendment due to his ‘incapacity.’”
But with a third of the Supreme Court being Trump appointees, Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way and former mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., said he could see the Court ruling in Trump’s favor and allowing him to serve any legal consequences at a later time.
“Uncharted legal territory with stakes this high means questions like that usually get kicked up to the Supreme Court. Given that, Donald Trump appointed three members of the Supreme Court on a six-person ultra conservative majority, I think the most likely scenario is that he's allowed to stand for office, and if he wins, he could avoid or at least delay paying his debt to society,” Myrick said.
The 25th Amendment could also be used for a president’s mental competence. While Trump attacks Biden for being “cognitively impaired,” Trump is 77 years old and isn’t always sharp himself. He said last year Biden would lead the U.S. into “World War II” and, in the same speech, said he was leading former President Barack Obama in polls for the 2024 election.
Amid Trump’s continued gaffes this year, Haley has called him “confused” and has tried to use the issue to bait him into appearing with her in a debate.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Feb. 8 on whether the Constitution’s 14th Amendment and its “insurrectionist ban” makes Trump disqualified from holding office because of his actions on Jan. 6, 2021.
Colorado’s Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision in December that the ban does apply to Trump.
Maine’s secretary of state came to the same conclusion, but a court has ordered that the issue be reconsidered after the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Some other states rejected legal intervention on procedural grounds.
The 14th Amendment, in part, bans anyone who “engaged in insurrection” against the United States from holding any civil, military or elected office without the approval of two-thirds of the House and Senate.
“Donald Trump cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6,” William Baude, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, has said.
The 14th Amendment originally intended to prevent Confederate officials from gaining power after the Civil War, but how the disqualification clause would be applied is unclear to legal experts, especially since it’s never been used in the case of a president before, FindLaw, a Reuters company, reported.
If the Supreme Court does say “nobody's above the law, and that includes the president” and lets the criminal justice system do its work, Creel said, Trump could still be disqualified from the presidency via the political system.
“We have a blueprint for how to do that. Impeachment. Conviction. Removal. That's how you could do it, and so you can see him taking office and having that avenue, where he's president for a day and then they just kind of have this perfunctory removal,” Creel said.
Trump was twice impeached while in office, but was acquitted on all counts by the Senate in both cases.
Then-President Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post as he speaks in the East Room of the White House one day after the U.S. Senate acquitted on two articles of impeachment, ion February 6, 2020 in Washington. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Congress could technically impeach Trump now with the goal of simply disqualifying him from running for elected office. Recall that Trump’s second impeachment trial took place several weeks after he left the White House.
But with Republicans currently controlling the House, where any impeachment proceeding would begin, such a scenario is exceedingly remote.
An exotic and unlikely scenario is Biden pardoning Trump with the understanding that Trump will quit the presidential race.
Biden, who has recently stepped up his criticism of Trump, has never spoken of such an idea.
A most imperfect historical parallel would be President Gerald Ford’s pardoning of President Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal. But there’s no evidence Ford’s pardon involved either an overt or secret quid pro quo, according to the National Constitution Center, and came only after Nixon had officially stepped down.
In short: yes.
There’s precedent that presidents don’t have full legal immunity — look at the 1997 Supreme Court ruling in Clinton v. Jones, Creel says — but Trump could be still allowed to serve any prison time post-presidency if convicted and sentenced for any of the 91 charges.
That would require the Supreme Court ruling that Trump couldn’t have his presidential duties interfered with by state level charges.
“We have to just set them aside to the point where he could realistically, in that scenario if that's what the Supreme Court says, be told January 20, at 12:01 p.m., 2028, report for incarceration in the state of Georgia,” Creel said. “That's an actual realistic possibility that could go his way.”

CNN's Phil Mattingly expressed bewilderment on Monday that there has been so much focus on President Joe Biden's age when former President Donald Trump isn't exactly a portrait of lucidity himself.
Mattingly's remarks came in light of a recent poll showing that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe Biden is too old to be president, whereas a significantly smaller majority say the same thing about Trump.
"If you watch all hour of any Donald Trump speech or event, there is at least ten to 12 minutes of complete incoherent rambling, flubbing who leads which country — Turkey being the latest," he said.
Former Republican pollster Lee Carter said that Trump simply gets "forgiven" for such rambling for seemingly inexplicable reasons, as she said Trump supporters see his verbal blunders as "a different kind of gaffe" compared to Biden.
READ MORE: Republican senators confess they skipped Mike Lee's 4-hour filibuster
Panelist S.E. Cupp, meanwhile, said that Biden can't simply hide from the fact that most Americans think he's too old for the job.
"But if politics is perception, this is the perception, it's really hard to combat it," she said. "You could focus on policy, just talk about the things you've done and the things you're going to do. But this is the big albatross over the Biden campaign at this point."
Watch the video below or at this link.

'At least 10 minutes of incoherent rambling' in every Trump
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