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New Yorkers react to former President Trump's indictment


People across the country are reacting to the indictment of former President Donald Trump. He is still hugely popular in many parts of the country, including upstate New York. Mr. Trump won most rural counties there in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. North Country Public Radio's Emily Russell has this report.

EMILY RUSSELL, BYLINE: On Thursday evening, Corey Bova-Wamsganz got a pretty eager text from his aunt.

COREY BOVA-WAMSGANZ: It was one of the first things she sent out to everybody. She's like, oh, are you looking at the news? And you see the news and you see what's happening? And I'm like, oh, shoot, what's going on?

RUSSELL: What's going on was that former President Donald Trump had been indicted by the Manhattan district attorney. Bova-Wamsganz lives in Saranac Lake. It's a small mountain town about five hours north of the city. He says his aunt was gloating. She doesn't like Trump, but Bova-Wamsganz does. Still, he wasn't surprised by the indictment.

BOVA-WAMSGANZ: I knew it was coming. He knew it was coming. These people aren't going to stop. They're not going to stop. It's ridiculous.

RUSSELL: By these people, he means Democrats. Bova-Wamsganz believes it's all part of a hidden agenda, one aimed at creating a new world order. There is no evidence to support that conspiracy theory. The evidence against Trump in this trial will likely focus on his business records and a payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels. David Thomas-Train from nearby Keene Valley thinks Trump had it coming.

DAVID THOMAS-TRAIN: What's clear is he's been playing fast and loose with the law his whole life. And is this a surprise? No. I think it's probably long overdue.

RUSSELL: A recent poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist found that before the indictment, 46% of folks thought Trump had done something illegal. The divide is a lot starker between parties. Nine in 10 Democrats said the investigation into Trump are fair, while 8 in 10 Republicans called them a witch hunt.

CHRISTINE PROSSER: These divisions - the Democrats and the Republicans - I think it's gone way too far - way, way, way too far.

RUSSELL: That's Christine Prosser. She's from down the road in Keene. Prosser is a registered independent, so she thinks the indictment could further divide the country. But Prosser says if the evidence leads to a conviction, maybe that could change the minds of some Trump voters.

PROSSER: Sooner or later, you're going to have to actually look at it and say, oh, maybe he isn't a good guy.

RUSSELL: It's not clear, though, how likely that shift could be. The message from some top Republican lawmakers is outrage and denial. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who represents this part of upstate New York, said on Twitter on Friday, quote, "There is no crime. There is no case. This is a witch hunt." Trump doesn't deny the payment to Stormy Daniels, though he does deny the affair. I asked Trump supporter Corey Bova-Wamsganz about this - about how he'd react if Trump is found guilty.

BOVA-WAMSGANZ: So what? So what? Look at Clinton. He had relations in the Oval Office.

RUSSELL: This indictment is the first for a former president, but it might not be the last for Trump. He could face charges in Georgia over election interference and one or two more indictments from federal prosecutors.

For NPR News, I'm Emily Russell in Saranac Lake, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Emily Russell