The Republican field of candidates is expanding each week, with candidates eagerly vying to surpass Donald Trump. Few of the former President’s opponents have tried to capitalize on the latest indictment against him.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina, as well as several other lower-tier candidates, have turned their criticisms on the Justice Department. They criticized federal law enforcement over years of investigations that involved the twice-impeached, now double-indicted Trump. Trump still faces separate investigations in other matters.
Other people, such as Nikki Haley the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, former Vice President Mike Pence, and the former New Jersey Governor, remained silent or said they were waiting for more information. Chris Christie remained silent, or stated that they were waiting to hear more information.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the only prominent Republican to have taken a more aggressive stance against Trump and reiterating a previous call to withdraw from the election.
On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Trump for seven criminal charges relating to his mishandling classified documents at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He is the only former president who has faced federal criminal charges. Manhattan prosecutors had indicted for his role in hush-money payments to women. A jury later found him liable in a civil case for sexually abusing, and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.
The corrupt Biden administration informed my lawyers that I had been indicted, apparently over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump said on his Truth Social in announcing the news of the arrest on Thursday. He added that he has been asked to appear at U.S. District Court Miami on Tuesday.
DeSantis, his closest rival according to polls, sent a late Thursday tweet that expressed sympathy for Trump.
DeSantis stated that “the weaponization of federal police represents a grave threat to a society free.” “We’ve seen for years an uneven application to the law based on political affiliation. Why are you so aggressive in your pursuit of Trump, but so passive with regard to Hillary or Hunter. “The DeSantis Administration will end weaponization, eliminate political bias in the DOJ and bring accountability to it.”
Scott, who announced his presidential candidacy at the end of last month, spoke with Fox News shortly after the news of the indictment was released. Scott criticized the “weaponization of federal law enforcement” against Trump.
Scott stated that “we look at each case based upon the evidence we have in America.” “Everyone is presumed innocent and not guilty. What we’ve witnessed over the past several years is that the Department of Justice has weaponized itself against the former President.”
Trump’s most ardent supporters expect, if they don’t demand, that even those who are trying to beat him in the race for nomination will show deference. Charlie Kirk, a right-wing activist who is close to the Trump faction of the GOP, said on Twitter other candidates should “suspend their campaign and travel to Miami to show support.”
Kirk continued, “If you do not, you are a part of the problem.”
One Republican who was close to Trump’s world but wasn’t authorized on record to speak asked how “anyother Republican candidate can] effectively attack Trump at this time, when Joe Biden’s DOJ literally tries to put him in jail cells?”
This source asked, “How do you strike a blow without appearing to be joining arms with Biden or [special counsel] Jack Smith? And cheering what they are doing?”
Trump’s opponents are used to responding to his legal risk. Trump’s rivals were more sympathetic than scornful when he was charged in Manhattan back in March. Many of them framed the investigation in a political context. After a New York jury ruled that Trump was liable of sexually abusing Carroll last month, many GOP presidential candidates either downplayed, or avoided questions regarding the verdict. Christie was the exception. At the time , he told Fox News the case was part a “unacceptable pattern of conduct”.
The GOP race has changed a bit since then. DeSantis, who had criticized “pornstars” before Trump’s indictment but shifted his position after the indictment was issued, launched his campaign by making a not so subtle pitch that Republican voters need to move past the drama of Trump years. Christie, a former close ally of Trump, announced his candidacy this week. He also signaled that he would be attacking Trump’s flaws. Pence entered the race as well this week, and he uncorked his most scathing criticisms of Trump to date.
Hutchinson’s campaign is geared towards Trump-weary voters. No one else has jumped to the opportunity to vilify him. Pence, who remained silent Thursday , refused to respond Wednesday, when NBC News asked him in Ankeny Iowa if Trump’s campaign should be ended if a federal investigation was announced.
Hutchinson wasn’t shy about answering that question. He blasted Trump’s “willful disrespect for the Constitution” as well as “his disrespect for rule of law.”
Hutchinson stated in a press release that “Donald Trump has a right to the presumption innocence.” The criminal proceedings are a distraction. Donald Trump must respect his office and stop his campaign.
Some people called for Trump’s pardon to be granted by Biden, or themselves if they were elected president.
Vivek Ramaswamy said, in a lengthy statement, that it would have been easier to win the election if Trump wasn’t running. But I am a candidate who puts principles above politics. “I pledge to pardon Trump on January 20, 2025, and restore the rule-of-law in our country.”
“Pardon Trump Now!” Tweeted Perry Johnson is a Michigan businessman disqualified last year from the GOP governor primary because he did not collect enough valid signatures. He’s now running for a long shot presidential campaign.
Christie, who had criticized Trump during his early days of campaigning said that he would wait until the indictment was made public before giving his opinion.
He tweeted: “No one is above law, no matter how much they want to be.”