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Former Georgia Lt. Gov. says Trump's 4th indictment is a 'pivot point' for the GOP

Geoff Duncan, former Georgia Lieutenant Governor, walks outside the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023.
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Geoff Duncan, former Georgia Lieutenant Governor, walks outside the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023.

Updated August 16, 2023 at 2:49 PM ET

Georgia's former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is calling on fellow Republicans to seize the Georgia indictment of former President Donald Trump as a "pivot point" for the GOP, as the party seeks to retake the White House in 2024.

On NPR's Morning Edition Wednesday, Duncan urged "U.S. senators, conservative governors, state legislators — everybody that has a voice and a platform — should speak up as a Republican, and tell Donald Trump to get out of this race because it's not good for the party. But more importantly, it's not good for this country."

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans, 63%, now say they want Trump to run for president again in 2024, and 74% would support him if he were the Republican nominee, according to a recent (August 2023) poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

This is Trump's fourth indictment since leaving office, but it's the first in a legal jurisdiction where cameras are permitted to show the proceedings.

When asked if televising a Trump trial in Georgia would benefit the country, Duncan told Morning Edition host Leila Fadel, "I think the more Americans can see and specifically Republicans ... [the] crazy series of events that played out, the more they can see it in three dimension, I think the quicker we're going to start to heal as a party and move past Donald Trump. I just, I think history is going to prove that Donald Trump was one of the biggest mistakes this country's ever made."

Duncan was called to testify before the Fulton County grand jury, and hours prior to that appearance, Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, warning Duncan not to testify and calling the former lieutenant governor a "loser" and a "nasty disaster." Asked if he saw this as an instance of witness tampering or intimidation, Duncan responded, "It certainly didn't deter me from answering the questions of the grand jury, getting there on time and fulfilling my civic duties in front of the grand jury."

Trump and the other 18 defendants have until Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender to authorities in Fulton County.

The following excerpts are from an exchange between Duncan and NPR's Leila Fadel, which has been edited for clarity.

What is it about this case that makes it maybe more significant?

What we watched play out right after the 2020 election cycle here in Georgia was just the series of what felt like, at the time, very coordinated events ... to just hoodwink Republicans [with the impression] that everybody was corrupt in Georgia around the election system. And it was wrong. And it's taken us two and a half years to get to this point, unfortunately.

Why does he continue to have such popularity even as he racks up felony charges?

Donald Trump has confused Republicans across the country to think that the louder and more angry you are, the more conservative you are. ... I'm a Republican because I believe in the conservative principles of smaller government and public safety and national security. I believe in states rights. Those are the core tenets why a majority of Republicans got into the Republican Party. But Donald Trump's confused us. And this is a painful healing process for us.

This is our opportunity. If we, as Republicans, don't use this moment of insanity inside our party as a pivot point, then shame on us.

Do you want this case in Georgia, and the arraignment, to be televised?

Yeah, I do. I think the more Americans can see, and specifically Republicans, the more Republicans can see of the erratic, just a crazy series of events that played out — the more they can see it in three dimension — I think the quicker we're going to start to heal as a party and move past Donald Trump.

I just think history is going to prove that Donald Trump was one of the biggest mistakes this country's ever made.

Jacob Conrad edited this story. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Destinee Adams
Destinee Adams (she/her) is a temporary news assistant for Morning Edition and Up First. In May 2022, a month before joining Morning Edition, she earned a bachelor's degree in Multimedia Journalism at Oklahoma State University. During her undergraduate career, she interned at the Stillwater News Press (Okla.) and participated in NPR's Next Generation Radio. In 2020, she wrote about George Floyd's impact on Black Americans, and in the following years she covered transgender identity and unpopular Black history in the South. Adams was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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