February 13

By Claire Hansen

The race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is seeing some movement after months of rumor and speculation, with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley set to announce her candidacy later this week and become the first to join former President Donald Trump in what is expected to become a sizable GOP field.

Haley, a former ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, has walked a fine line in touting her connection to – and her independence from – the bitterly divisive former president. Her official entry into the race is the first since Trump announced his bid in November, but it comes as other candidates drop increasingly obvious hints of their intentions.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina this month will tour early primary states amid reports he is nearing an announcement. Former Vice President Mike Pence has been active on the political circuit and dropped a series of hints that suggest a run is all but inevitable.

Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is considered by both pundits and by Trump himself to be the former president’s main foe, continues to build his national profile with a slew of high-profile state policies that speak to national Republican concerns. DeSantis is said to be making a final decision on a run soon, with advisers already reaching out to potential campaign hires.

Early polling shows a complicated picture. A survey released last week by the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has pulled away from Trump in the last year, found that DeSantis beat Trump in a hypothetical one-on-one match up – but that Trump prevails in a wider field, with potential candidates including Haley and Pence helping to split the non-Trump vote.

The group is not waiting for official announcements as it considers who it might back. Axios reported last week that the Club for Growth was eyeing six potential candidates who it planned to invite to a donor summit in Florida next month: DeSantis, Haley, Pence, Scott, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Amid headwinds from some in the Republican Party, Trump faces a number of high-level investigations that appear to be picking up pace and could have implications for him and for those who served in his administration. Last week, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed Pence as part of his probes into Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left office, as well as Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the election.

And on Monday, a judge in Georgia announced that parts of a final report produced by a special grand jury investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn election results in the state would be made public later this week.

The rest of the report, however, will remain sealed as prosecutors weigh charging decisions in the probe, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said.

The introduction and conclusion of the report, as well as a section in which jurors discuss concerns that witnesses lied under oath, will be made public, McBurney ruled.

The announcement comes out of a hearing on Jan. 24 in which media organizations pushed for the release of the report, while Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued against its publication, stressing that charging decisions in the case were “imminent” – decisions that could complicate Trump’s bid for the White House.

Late last month, news also broke that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had convened a grand jury to consider Trump’s role in a scheme to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep her from publicly speaking about what she said was an extramarital affair she had with Trump.