Trump will try to use his impeachment defense if he’s prosecuted — but here’s why it won’t work
President Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (screengrab)

Former president Donald Trump has already signaled he'll try to use his impeachment defense if he's prosecuted in New York, but an acquittal is anything but assured there.

The twice-impeached one-term former president issued a statement this week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his accounting firm must turn over his tax records and other related documents to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., and Trump's statement suggests he'll try the same defense he used in his Senate impeachment trial, according to The Atlantic's David Graham.

"Trump makes four main claims: I've already been investigated, and I was found innocent; this is a fishing expedition by prosecutors; this is a politically motivated prosecution; and I got 75 million votes in the 2020 election," Graham wrote. "There's a mix of the true, false, and irrelevant here worth teasing apart, but it's the last claim — that the fact that so many people voted for him means he can't be guilty of any crimes — that is most likely to endure, and most dangerous."

Republicans in the closely divided Senate overwhelmingly voted to acquit Trump for his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, but a federal prosecutor doesn't face the same pressure from GOP primary voters.

" Trump has sought to create a connection between himself and his base that resembles more closely the intense identification between a political faction and a leader of, say, Argentinian Peronism than anything in American political history," Graham wrote. "In the winter of 2019, Trump tweeted a meme that featured himself with the caption 'In reality they're not after me. They're after you. I'm just in the way.'"

Trump has tried to intertwine his interests with his closest supporters, so that any investigation into his own conduct is a threat to them -- but Graham argued that's ludicrous in a federal court.

"This is nonsense," Graham wrote. "Cy Vance looking into Trump's finances poses no more threat to the average Trump voter than Trump getting ticketed for speeding outside Mar-a-Lago — though you can bet he'd insist that was political persecution too. But careful reasoning has never been essential to Trump's political identity. Displaced grievance has been, and it will remain so for the rest of his life."