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Trump Leans Into an Outlaw Image as His Criminal Trial Concludes

Over the past week, Donald J. Trump rallied alongside two rap artists accused of conspiracy to commit murder. He promised to commute the sentence of a notorious internet drug dealer. And he appeared backstage with another rap artist who has pleaded guilty to assault for punching a female fan.

As Mr. Trump awaits the conclusion of his Manhattan trial — closing arguments are set for Tuesday and a verdict could arrive as soon as this week — he used a weeklong break from court to align himself with defendants and convicted criminals charged by the same system with which he is at war.

The appearances fit neatly into Mr. Trump’s 2024 campaign, during which he has said he is likely to pardon those prosecuted for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and lent his voice to a recording of the national anthem by a choir of Jan. 6 inmates.

There was a time when so much confirmed and alleged criminality would be too much to tolerate for supporters of a candidate for president, an office with a sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. That might have been especially true in the case of a candidate who has been indicted four times and stands accused of rank disregard for the law.

Yet with less than six months until Election Day, Mr. Trump, who has long pushed messaging about “law and order,”is leaning into an outlaw image, surrounding himself with accused criminals and convicts.

“I don’t think people appreciate the degree to which Trump has embraced the image of lawlessness in this campaign,” said Tim Miller, a former Republican strategist who worked for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and has been deeply critical of Mr. Trump.

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