The Issue Is: Indictment of Former President Donald Trump

An unprecedented week in American politics as Former President Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York.

The indictment, still sealed, follows an investigation into alleged hush money payments made ahead of the 2016 election.

To react, Elex Michaelson is joined on "The Issue Is" by Congressman Ro Khanna (D. – Calif.) and Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a vocal critic of Trump who has advised the group "Republican Voters Against Trump."

Also on the docket this week, Khanna discusses his decision not to enter the 2024 California Senate race, instead endorsing Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D. – Calif.) to succeed retiring Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Murphy also looks ahead to 2024, discussing the political implications on both parties of the Trump indictment and the launch of the Governor Gavin Newsom’s new Political Action Committee "Campaign for Democracy," aimed at fundraising for Red-State Democrats.


MURPHY’S CENTRAL TAKE: " think it's a tricky one because in the big picture, twice impeached, now indicted, you know, I mean, the Trump Museum is going to have to be next to a prison somewhere at the end of all this. But, politically speaking, and I'm a conservative Republican, but long time anti-Trumper, there's a huge thing coming in Georgia, where he basically tried to force the election, there's a huge deal coming on January 6th, special prosecutor. This one is the weakest one. That doesn't mean it's bad, ought to have the day in court, let the process work, but politically, it's the easiest to criticize because it is, compared to the other two things, this is like running a red light on the way to the bank robbery you're going to lead, and because it is an elected Democratic official making the move, not the feds, from a liberal city, it gives Republicans, who are looking for a way to kind of, you know, hide from Trump's primary voters, something to talk about…."

REP. KHANNA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I wish Members of Congress and Senators would stop commenting on it. You have a law enforcement official who's brought an indictment that should play out the way it's supposed to play out. And it's not for politicians to comment on.... I have confidence in our judicial system and our jury system. If the prosecutor has a strong case, he'll succeed, if he doesn't, then he won't succeed, and that's for the jury to decide and law enforcement to decide. But I have faith in that in the process…"


MURPHY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's been funny watching them all wiggle... because privately, of course, they're all like, 'how do we get rid of this guy?' But they're afraid of his voters. Now, before this happened, Trump was in a pretty strong decline. More than half the party wants to move on to somebody else. He was down to about a third of the primary vote. This has given him a big vitamin shot because it's easy to say they're attacking us, all the routine he does. So what they're trying to do, the people surviving in the primary at the early stages, we shouldn't overanalyze it, they're trying to say, 'oh, this is horribly political’…

"I mean, the funniest one was DeSantis, who did the old 'I don't know anything about paying off porn stars. I spent a lot of time in church myself, so you have to ask him. I don't swim in those gutters, but one thing I hate even more. Democrat. Liberal. George Soros, left handed prosecutors,' you know. They're all trying to skedaddle their way through it. But the thing to watch is not this week. It is when this stuff keeps building that Trump fatigue in the party is big…"


REP. KHANNA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think the most exciting place right now to serve for a bold progressive is in the House of Representatives. We have so many young members like Maxwell Frost, like Jonathan Jackson. It's where I can have an impact, and I represent Silicon Valley, a very important constituency. I'm backing Barbara Lee for two reasons. She's the most important voice, anti-war voice in the entire Congress. She stood up against giving George W. Bush a blank check to Afghanistan and Iraq. Second, she has the most support from Bernie progressives around the state. And I was a co-chair for Bernie's campaign…"


MURPHY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's not subtle. I can tell you who noticed this ad the Biden political team did. They're like and I can tell you, I don't know for a fact, but I've been in that business. They're looking at like, 'what the hell is this guy trying to do? You know, we're teaching Joe how to play ping pong or something flashy, getting ready for the reelect, showing vigor, and we got the youngest, prettiest Democratic governor in the country is up with I don't know what the number was like, eight or $10 million and a media tour to not run for president. Not helpful'... This should be on the cover of Too Clever by Half magazine. I think the strategy is, in case something happens, they've been reading actuarial tables, grim business, people are brutally pragmatic, and they're thinking we need to raise our identity like other, Buttigieg, the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, our incredible Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo from Rhode Island... They're already out there, so they're trying to ante-in a little bit, this is a clumsy way to do it, he's going to get criticized…."


REP. KHANNA'S CENTRAL TAKE: "You know, I don't question people's motives. I say they're duly elected and representing a constituency. They're most likely representing the views of their constituency. And I treat them with respect... That doesn't mean I agree with them, but I just think we need more civility, more dialogue in this country, and a sense that no one has a monopoly on the truth. Now, it doesn't make for viral social media clips, it doesn't make for big fundraising plays, but ultimately, the country, in my view, needs more of that, it's a bit boring, but that's how we built America…"