What might Trump's indictment mean for Gov. Ron DeSantis?
ORLANDO, Fla. - After former president Donald Trump’s criminal indictment and not guilty plea, the big question now is, ‘What comes next?’ What does this mean for the president and any possible opponents?
FOX 35 posed that question to lawyers and political science analysts in our area.
"This is the biggest moment we’ve had in the 2024 election to date," University of Central Florida political science lecturer John Hanley told FOX 35 News.
Outside Mar-a-Lago, Trump supporters told FOX 35 the indictment was going to help his bid for a second term as president.
"There’s a core of hardcore supporters of Donald Trump who think that everything helps Donald Trump," said Hanley. But, he continued, "It just kind of seems unnatural that being charged with a crime related to these things is going to help."
Trump can still run for president even if he’s charged with a crime.
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If he’s convicted, former State Attorney Aramis Ayala says that could be stickier territory that has to be worked out in court.
"If the people of the United States feel that someone who has been charged with a crime, or someone that has been proven to have committed multiple crimes – that would be 34 felonies – that’s the decision of the people. We live in a Democratic society."
Ayala, who is also an Assistant Professor at UCF, says there shouldn’t be any discrimination about the prosecution of crime among people who hold power. "There’s one system of justice for all," she said.
"I believe in the presumption of innocence, but I also believe in looking at it as it is," added Ayala. "This is no longer a discussion of politics, this is not a discussion of ethics. This is truly the discussion we’ve been waiting for about how we feel about law and order."
RELATED: Donald Trump spared mug shot, handcuffs after turning himself in on felony charges
Of course, the question of what comes next doesn’t only affect Trump. It matters too for Governor Ron DeSantis’ potential bid for president.
Hanley believes it would be a mistake for DeSantis back out now.
"That would have implications for him in 2028 or 2032. He’d never be the same person as the person who was ready to make this run," explained Hanley. "He’s set up the legislative session in Florida to culminate in him declaring that he’s going to run. He’s written a book, which is always a sign that he’s running for the presidency. He’s accumulated a huge amount of financial support."
The actions both Trump and any opponents take over the next few weeks could impact the next few years in politics.
Some analysts told FOX 35 talked with said this could add fuel for Trump in the short-term, but might not be helpful in a general election. As for DeSantis, he’ll have a tough line to walk.
"Normally you’d think, ‘This is the time when you mount that attack.’ However, you look at how Trump has been gaining support among Republicans, this has the potential that if Ron DeSantis were to attack Donald Trump very aggressively at this stage, he could lose it very quickly," said Hanley.