Trump suggests conviction in hush money case could make him more popular

Former President Trump on Monday brushed off the prospect that a conviction in an upcoming trial over alleged hush money payments could cost him the election in November, suggesting it could actually help him if he’s found guilty.

“Well, it could also make me more popular because the people know it’s a scam,” Trump said when asked if he was concerned about the political fallout of a possible conviction.

“It’s a Biden trial. There is no trial. There’s a Biden trial,” Trump added, claiming without evidence that President Biden was responsible for his myriad legal problems.

Trump’s base has rallied by his side and dug in despite his legal problems, propelling him to the GOP nomination. But there are signs a criminal conviction would damage his chances to win the general election.

Exit polling from Super Tuesday earlier this month found 37 percent of primary voters in Virginia and 31 percent of primary voters in North Carolina said Trump would not be fit to be president if he’s convicted of a crime.

An exit poll from the South Carolina GOP primary in February found 32 percent of voters said Trump would not be fit to serve if he were convicted.

A New York judge scheduled Trump’s hush money trial to begin April 15, rejecting efforts from Trump and his legal team to postpone the case in light of new documents that were recently turned over.

It will be the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial, with Trump still facing felony charges in Washington, D.C., and Georgia based on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, along with charges in Florida based on his handling and retention of classified materials.

Trump is charged in the New York case with 34 counts of falsifying business records of reimbursements to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.  

The former president on Monday indicated he would be willing to testify, though he repeatedly questioned if the trial would actually move forward in the middle of campaign season, and it’s unclear if his lawyers would support him taking the stand.

“I would have no problem testifying,” Trump said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The Biden campaign in a statement called Trump "weak and desperate."

"His campaign can’t raise money, he is uninterested in campaigning outside his country club, and every time he opens his mouth, he pushes moderate and suburban voters away with his dangerous agenda," campaign spokesperson James Singer said in a statement. "America deserves better than a feeble, confused, and tired Donald Trump.”

Update at 2:45 p.m.

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