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Trump’s Decision to Skip Debate – A Legal Appraisal for Supporters and Opponents


With news sources already publishing how January 6 had been plotted for weeks beforehand and that, even now, some government officials offer justification for it, it seems ever more uncertain what political moves are in the public’s best interest. This context heightens interest in why former President Donald Trump reportedly plans to skip the first Republican debate of the 2022 race. As a legitimate political strategy or as a dodge to avoid legal liabilities, do any or many legal arguments favor or disfavor such a move? This blog uncovers the legal advantages or disadvantages of Trump’s decision to skip the debate based on five arguments.

Trump says he will skip GOP presidential primary debates | WGN Radio 720 -  Chicago's Very Own

1. Avoiding Defamation Charges –

One possibility for Trump’s no-show at the debate is to protect himself from defamation lawsuits by Republican rivals. When politicians debate publicly, they often engage in unhinging one another’s characters with sharp rhetoric and accusations. This atmosphere could invite the offended party to press charges against the offender. As the defamation plaintiff, the offended party has the burdern to prove to a high degree that the defendant’s statements were false, harmed their reputation, and caused them losses. Thus, if Trump does avoid the debate, he will forego a critical event where he could end up facing vexatious lawsuits that consume time, resources, and reputation.

2. Dodging Liability for Breach of Contracts –

Donald Trump’s move to sit out of the debate can also protect him from possible claims of contractual breaches. In case he agreed to participate in a stipulated manner and then fails to do so, other candidates or the organizers of the debate could claim damages against him for non-performance and breach of contract. Trump may argue, however, that he failed to attend due to health concerns or policy differences, such as the debate rules or the media personalities involved.


Donald Trump did not pay income tax in 10 of last 15 years

3. Avoiding Expensing Campaign Funds –

When candidates commit to participation, they need funds to cater for various expenses such as travel, lodging, venue rentals, catering, and advertising. Donald Trump, however, raises his funds through private donations and therefore need not use such funds for planning and staging debates that he sees as costly and unnecessary. In the offseason, therefore, Trump can avoid expensing funds for events that may not significantly improve his chances of winning the Republican party nomination, a factor that is critical in the present competitive political terrain.

4. Curtailing Offensive Utterances –

The primary goal in a debate is to sway voters to believe that a candidate is the best fit for the office they seek to occupy. However, sometimes, heated exchanges between candidates occur, and one can make utterances that drive away potential voters or cause a scandal. Although candidates can issue apologies or explain themselves, such incidents do not undo the harm already inflicted on the image of the candidate. By abstaining from debates, Trump can minimize his liabilities for outbreaks of such behaviour…

5. Avoiding Democratic Bravado –

The final reason why Trump may skip the debate is to counter Democratic bravado. Sometimes, candidates in recess choose to make provocative statements to narc-self importance to previous campaigns or twist their rivals’ arms to struggle to compete. Others merely wish to ignite opponent desperation or discredit their achievements in office. By ducking the Republican debate, Trump can demonstrate that he chooses to avoid public entanglements that shift focus from core competencies to relishing in slurs.


In conclusion, depending on the perspective, Trump’s decision to miss out on debate can serve his interests, or it may deny supporters the opportunity to push the public agenda further. Five legal issues have been highlighted as possibly supporting Trump’s move, ranging from avoiding defamatory claims to avoiding expenditures from campaign funds. Notable in this context is that the former Republican president has used these legal options before and may yet use them again, therefore, anyone aiming to dispute his qualifications for office in the future would have to take into consideration his past and ongoing legal strategies. Knowing Trump, he is often one step ahead, and skipping the debate may just another Trump card. Ultimately, the decision will come down to voters’ opinions and the party’s rules, and only time will tell how this plays out.