Some Trump rivals rally to his side as possible charges emerge
- US News
- March 18, 2023
- No Comment
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Top Republicans, including some of Donald Trump’s potential rivals for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, rushed to his defense Saturday after Trump said he was preparing for a possible arrest.
The reaction underscores the political risks faced by potential adversaries bent on convincing voters it’s time to ditch the former president. But they also recognize that the numerous investigations — Trump’s post on social media about the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation prompted the public statements of support — are deeply unpopular with his supporters, and they fear it will alienate his loyal base.
Among those who came to Trump’s side was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said a possible indictment would be “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical prosecutor who lets violent criminals free while pursuing political revenge” against Trump.
McCarthy, R-Calif., said he will direct relevant GOP-led House of Representatives committees to “immediately investigate whether federal funds are being used to undermine our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated law enforcement activities.” McCarthy did not support Trump’s White House campaign, but Trump did help McCarthy secure the speakership after several contentious rounds of voting.
Here we are again – a egregious abuse of power by a radical prosecutor who is letting violent criminals loose while pursuing political revenge on President Trump.
I direct the relevant committees to immediately investigate whether federal funds are being used to undermine our democracy by… https://t.co/elpbh7LeWn
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 18, 2023
The comments came hours after Trump claimed in a social media post that he expects to be arrested in the coming week as New York City prosecutor Alvin Bragg is considering charges in an investigation into hush money payments to women who had sexual encounters with Trump claimed. A lawyer and spokesman for Trump said Saturday that Trump, who has long denied the allegations, responded to media reports in the post and has no independent knowledge of pending court cases.
Trump nonetheless declared in a message on his Truth Social network, “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WILL BE ARRESTED TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.” Then he called out to his supporters, “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!” on. recalling the pleas he made before the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
Former Vice President Mike Pence addresses an audience during a GOP fundraiser dinner Thursday, March 16, 2023 in Keene, NH (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Any potential violence sparked by Trump’s comments could change the tenor of the reaction. But on Saturday, some of Trump’s stated and potential rivals were quick to blast the prosecutor’s investigation.
“Well, like many Americans, I’m just amazed,” said former Vice President Mike Pence, who is widely expected to join the race in the coming weeks, and has escalated his criticism of Trump.
In an interview with SiriusXM’s Breitbart News, he said the investigation “smacks of the kind of political persecution we endured in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole phone-call impeachment. And the only thing I know is that I know that former President Trump can take care of himself.”
Pence was noncommittal when asked on Thursday whether Trump should step out if he is impeached. “I think it’s a free country. Everyone can make their own decisions,” he said.
Trump has said he will continue his presidential campaign even if he is impeached.
Vivek Ramaswamy, the conservative tech investor who’s already a declared candidate, urged Bragg to “reconsider.”
“Impeaching Trump would be a national disaster,” Ramaswamy tweeted. “It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals.”
“Let the American people decide who governs,” he added. “This will mark a dark moment in American history and erode public confidence in our voting system itself.”
Representatives for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another potential candidate believed to be Trump’s most serious rival, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and an early Trump supporter, said an action by the district attorney was “un-American.”
“Knowing that they cannot beat President Trump at the ballot box, the radial left will now follow the example of socialist dictators and will reportedly arrest President Trump, the leading Republican nominee for President of the United States,” she said in one Explanation and repeated Trump’s language.
Ohio Senator JD Vance, who won his 2022 race with Trump’s endorsement, said he was asked by several reporters if an impeachment would cause him to quash support for Trump.
“The answer is: Hell no. A politically motivated indictment makes the case for Trump stronger,” he tweeted. “We just don’t have a real country when justice depends on politics.”
WEST PALM BEACH, FL – MARCH 13: Former President Donald Trump boards his plane, known as Trump Force One, en route to Iowa at Palm Beach International Airport Monday, March 13, 2023, in West Palm Beach, FL. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Washington Post via Getty Images
Prosecutors are investigating hush money payments made to two women who alleged sexual encounters with Trump decades ago. A grand jury has heard witnesses, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who says he organized payments to the women in 2016 in exchange for their silence.
Trump denies the encounters and has called the investigation a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor intent on sabotaging Trump’s recent presidential campaign. Trump has said he believes an indictment would help him in the 2024 race.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., a longtime ally, agreed.
“The New York City Attorney did more to help get Donald Trump elected,” Graham said Saturday at the Vision ’24 conference in North Charleston, South Carolina. “They are doing this because they are afraid of Donald Trump.
Colvin reported from New York. Associated Press writers Holly Ramer of Keene, New Hampshire and Michelle R. Smith of Providence, Rhode Island contributed to this report.