WASHINGTON – Top Republican congressional members rallied around Donald Trump Thursday night. They framed the former President’s indictment by claiming that Joe Biden was “weaponizing his Justice Department” against his likely 2024 political rival.
It is inexcusable that a president would indict the candidate who opposes him. Tweeted Speaker Kevin McCarthy of the Republican Party in California, a Trump supporter. “I and every American who is a believer in the rule-of-law stand with President Trump to fight this grave injustice.
McCarthy wrote that “House Republicans” will be held accountable for this brazen weaponization.
The indictment on Thursday was the result of an investigation by Special Counsel Jack Smith who was appointed as Attorney General Merrick. Garland was careful not to get involved in the investigation and stated that Smith would be responsible for making his own charges. Biden has also stressed his distance from this investigation, and the White House stated that they heard about the indictment through media reports on Thursday evening.
Many Republicans who are allied to Trump have echoed his remarks. Steve Scalise (R-La. ), Majority Whip, called the “sham” indictment: “Let’s not be confused: Joe Biden weaponizes his Department of Justice to attack his political rival.”
Elise Stefanik (D-NY), Chair of the House GOP Conference, who is in charge of messaging, stated in a press release that Trump’s indictment was “the epitome” of federal weaponization against Joe Biden, Donald J. Trump, the leading opponent.
The message from Trump’s key allies was similar across the Capitol. Freshman Sen. J.D. Vance, R. Ohio, who has been endorsed by Trump for his election in 2022, accused Biden, of trying to “steal the next election”.
Vance tweet that “Biden attacks his most likely opponent in 2024.” He’s using the legal system to steal the 2024 elections. “This is what’s going on, plain and simply.”
Senate Republican Leadership Team members John Thune (R-S.D. ), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remained noticeably quiet.
NBC News confirmed, shortly after Trump announced that he had been indicted on Truth Social, that the former President was indicted on seven counts for mishandling classified documents by a Florida federal grand jury.
A number of GOP lawmakers reported that they received text messages from Trump’s political message operation on Thursday night. The texts included Trump’s Truth Social video and post, as well as his Truth Social post in which Trump declared innocence.
“This is election interference on the highest level.” It’s the first time that anything of this magnitude has ever happened. I am an innocent man. Trump says in the video, “I’m an uninvolved person.”
Sources said that the Trump team closely monitors which members of the leadership defended him via Twitter.
Democrats said that Trump’s criminal indictment, the first time a former President has been charged with a federal crime, should restore Americans’ faith in the justice systems.
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), the lead counsel for Trump’s impeachment investigation in the House, and a former federal prosecution, praised Smith. He called the special prosecutor “a career prosecutor with the highest integrity.”
He said that the U.S. is founded on the belief that “no one, not even the former president, is above law.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md. ), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and the leader manager for Trump’s 2nd impeachment case, took a stand against the GOP.
He said that “dangerous rhetoric” about a “two-tiered justice system”, which discriminates against the rich, is used to support the former president who was twice impeached. This undermines not only the Department of Justice, but also betrays an essential principle of justice: no one can be above the law. Not even a former president or a self proclaimed billionaire,” he added.
Raskin pledged to pursue oversight. He said Democrats were “determined to understand Trump’s full scope of his unlawful possession of hundreds government documents and offenses against our Government and People.”
Frank Thorp V contributed, as did Ali Vitali and Garrett Haake. Monica Alba, Jonathan Allen, Ken Dilanian and Rebecca Shabad also contributed.