New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is no fan of former President Donald Trump. But he’s not happy with how Democrats are handling — or “mishandling”– the Stormy Daniels story and possible criminal action related to it.
“A lot of the Democrats have misplayed this, in terms of building sympathy for the former president. And it does drastically change the paradigm as we go into the ’24 election,” Sununu told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “I was [having] coffee this morning with some folks, and none of them were big Trump supporters. But they all said they felt like he was being attacked.”
In a post on his Truth Social media platform early Saturday morning, the former president said he expected to be arrested Tuesday by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a complicated case involving 2016 payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump. Legal experts note that, based on the information currently available, the case will be a difficult one for the progressive district attorney to make.
Tapper made that point in his Sunday show, which Sununu echoed.
“As you brought up, this could be a misdemeanor,” Sununu said. “There’s a question about why they’re doing it [about] something seven years ago. “It’s not nothing, but it’s moving money and how he claimed money was being moved between him and his lawyer. There are other issues that really take precedence.”
Sununu isn’t the only Trump critic to raise questions about the political and public policy wisdom of Trump’s possible arrest.
“It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here,” former Vice President Mike Pence said on ABC on Sunday, adding “The fact that the Manhattan D.A. thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think… just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country.”
It is unlikely Trump will actually be charged or taken into custody on Tuesday, legal experts say. Sources around the campaign are walking it back. But the possibility Trump will soon be charged by the Manhattan district attorney is likely, based on current reporting.
Sununu noted voters don’t really understand what’s going on with this complicated case. “There are folks out there that still think this has something to do with January 6th.” A NHGOP strategist speaking on background told NHJournal about a Saturday conversation with Granite State voters discussing reports of Trump’s arrest.
“They thought it was about January 6. When I told them it was about Stormy Daniels, they didn’t believe me. So they Googled it. When they found out, their attitude completely changed too, ‘This is total B.S.'”
Sununu predicts the case “is going to be a circus,” and the conventional wisdom is that the Republican who performs best in the political big top is Donald Trump.
New Hampshire conservatives and GOP insiders aren’t impressed, either.
State Rep. Fred Doucette (R-Salem), a 2016 Trump backer who hasn’t endorsed a candidate in 2024 says, “You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to see this as a political lynching.”
Another 2016 Team Trump veteran who hasn’t taken a public position on the 2024 race is Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
“There may not be a bigger news story ever than a former POTUS being arrested by a DA who has allowed criminals to run free in NYC,” Lewandowski said via Twitter. “This smells of the worst politics ever.”
However, Tom Rath, a longtime Granite State Republican who backed Joe Biden in 2020, doesn’t believe the arrest, if it happens, will have a significant effect on the state’s GOP primary voters.
“If you like Trump, you will think it is bogus and politically motivated. If you don’t like Trump, the charge will be like preaching to the choir. The fact that Trump had a relationship of some sort with Ms. Daniels is not news,” Rath said. “What matters most will be voters’ appreciation of Trump as President…and, whether knowing that, would they want him to come back.”