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Our View: Can’t write off Trump as real contender

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for a House panel to examine former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, denying his last-ditch effort to string out this legal battle that has dogged Congress and the courts for years.

Add this legal setback to the slew of lawsuits he is under.

* Classified Documents Investigation. Did Trump illegally remove classified documents from the White House and obstruct investigators?

* Jan. 6 Investigation. Did Trump incite an insurrection, commit election fraud or fraudulently fundraise in the runup to Jan. 6?

* Manhattan District Attorney’s Investigation. Did the Trump Organization commit tax fraud or other financial crimes?

* Georgia Election Investigation. Did Trump break the law to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia?

* New York State Civil Case. Did Trump and his children lie to lenders and insurers about the Trump Organization’s financial condition?

Trump’s run for president in 2024 does not stop any investigations, but it could affect how prosecutors weigh options. And his stature could influence how judges and juries resolve any cases that go to trial.

Trump’s candidacy does not insulate him from indictments, but it does mean the Justice Department’s work could be slowed or derailed. In his announcement to run, Trump said, “I’m a victim.”

And if he were indicted, we’d bet fervent fans would go bananas over any alleged injustices. Loyal voters will circle the wagons.

Trump could even run for president from behind bars. If he were to win, he could easily end pending federal prosecutions or investigations once in office.

How’s that for a free country?

Trump saw urgency in announcing his candidacy sooner rather than later. Sure, he wants to elbow ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and any other future challengers. By default, he’s the front-runner.

It is surprising, though, that his slogan – “Make America great again” – stayed the same. To be fair, he did add “and glorious.” So it’s, “Make America great and glorious again.” He gets points for keeping that “g” alliteration.

It’s very deja vu. This same slogan will save on the cost of new swag. Just dust off the old hats from 2016 and let ’em rip.

We’ve never seen a new campaign with old messaging. What serious in-it-to-win-it communications team would let Trump run the same slogan? Does this mean we can republish old editorials from 2016?

And is Trump referring to the America before he won in 2016? Or the America while he was president in the early days of COVID-19? Which is most “glorious?”

Or maybe Trump is reminiscing about that lofty time, when it was highly unlikely he’d win, except he actually did.

We’re all in a new place. Trump’s first run – his grand old days – came before he denied results of the 2020 presidential election and fomented the Jan. 6 insurrection. It was before all those pesky lawsuits alleging fraud. It was before he grabbed classified documents to stuff in his most unsecure, very public home of Mar-a-Lago.

Old messaging is sentimental. It’s meant to show Trump is bringing the same energy to the 2024 campaign that he did in 2016. This time, he can add to the narrative by claiming he’s been mistreated. Denied his rightful place with a second term in the White House. A victim.

Although GOP leaders have an appetite for something new and see Trump as a drag on the ticket, they know he has a grip on Republican voters. Trump’s pulling together his last yes men standing.

This time we will not write off Trump. We see him for what he is – an actual threat and real contender for the White House.