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Republicans like Mike Johnson show up to Trump's trial to support the former president.

Trump trial hurtles toward finish

Closing arguments are set to begin Tuesday in President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York City. Then it will be up to a jury to decide whether Trump becomes the first former president convicted of a crime — in the middle of his bid to return to the White House no less.

The political stakes have been growing for Republicans on Capitol Hill. Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republicans personally have attended the trial to demonstrate their loyalty to Trump. Trump, in turn, formally endorsed Johnson’s reelection to Congress on Sunday night, one of a slew of such endorsements issued by the former president. Another was Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who is unopposed for Senate GOP whip in the next Congress.

For his part, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) continues to press his own investigation into Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg over the case. In turn, Bragg has sued Jordan over his “transparent campaign to intimidate and attack” the Manhattan DA’s office.

Senate Republicans have embraced Trump as they seek to win the majority in November, angling for his endorsement throughout primaries this year. NRSC Chair Steve Daines — like his House GOP counterparts — has openly allied himself with Trump.

All of this makes the verdict even more problematic for House and Senate GOP leaders. There’s no running from Trump or his legal problems, even though Trump has succeeded spectacularly so far in dragging out the legal proceedings in his other three criminal cases. Every Republican on Capitol Hill will have to defend a Trump conviction in the Big Apple. Conversely, every Republican would benefit from a Trump acquittal.

Republicans have attacked Bragg, President Joe Biden and Democrats generally for “weaponizing” the justice system against them. It’s a little harder to make that argument with one of Hunter Biden’s criminal cases set to begin next week, or the bribery indictments against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

The Republicans’ goal is to avoid talking about underlying allegations in Trump’s NYC case. Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an extramarital affair as the 2016 presidential campaign entered its final stages. Trump allegedly falsely claimed they were business expenses.

Capitol Hill reporters have repeatedly pressed Johnson on whether it was appropriate to have the speaker of the House attending a trial involving allegations of secret payments to a porn star by a candidate for president. Johnson’s response:

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.