DeSantis breaks silence on Trump and criticizes Manhattan DA
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida broke his silence on Monday about the potential indictment of his state’s most famous resident, former President Donald J. Trump, attacking the Manhattan District Attorney pursuing the case, but noting also ostensibly the personal conduct Mr. Trump is being investigated.
Mr. DeSantis spoke in response to a reporter’s question at an event in Panama City, Florida, after two days of pressure from Mr. Trump’s team and influential allies demanding for the governor to rule against an indictment likely to be brought by Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney.
After a reporter asked for Mr. DeSantis’ opinion on the potential indictment and whether he could play a role in Mr. Trump’s extradition to New York, the governor balked, saying that he didn’t know what was going to happen.
“But I know this: the Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor,” he said of Mr. Bragg, referring to the indirect financial support the district attorney received during his 2021 campaign. of George Soros, the liberal billionaire philanthropist. These donations have come under attack from Mr. Trump and other Republicans.
“And so he, like other Soros-funded prosecutors, they are militarizing their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety,” DeSantis said.
Donald Trump’s impending indictment
Then he twisted the knife when it came to the actions for which Mr. Trump is likely to be charged: silent payments made in late 2016 by Michael D. Cohen, then his attorney and repairman, to a porn star who said having had an affair with Mr. Trump.
“I don’t know what goes into paying silent money to a porn star to get silence on some type of alleged affair,” Mr. DeSantis said to laughter from the crowd during the ‘event.
How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staffers can vote, they are not allowed to support or campaign for political candidates or causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or donating money or raising funds for any political candidate or electoral cause.
“I just can’t talk about it,” he said. “But what I can talk about is if you have a prosecutor who ignores the crimes that happen every day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back to many, many years ago, to try to ‘Use Something About Silent Payments From Pornstars. , you know, this is an example of pursuing a political agenda and arming the office.
He added: “And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.” He said the “real victims are ordinary New Yorkers” because of the way Mr Bragg has run his office. He accused the district attorney of “attempting to signal virtue to his base.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr DeSantis made the remarks after facing heavy pressure on social media from some of Mr Trump’s top advisers and key allies, suggesting the governor should choose a side. Several prominent Republicans had already spoken out in defense of Mr. Trump, including some of his rivals and key allies in Congress.
Mr. DeSantis is Mr. Trump’s closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination in all public polls in the nascent 2024 race. to be focused on the Florida legislative session as an opportunity to rebuild its image.
Mr. DeSantis has faced increasing attacks from Mr. Trump and his team, with Mr. Trump sampling different nicknames for his rival and the former president’s advisers seeking to portray Mr. DeSantis as dishonest. But the governor of Florida has had a strict no-commitment policy.
Even as he commented on Mr. Trump’s legal situation, Mr. DeSantis painted himself as above the fray.
“We have so many things pending before the Legislative Assembly,” Mr. DeSantis told reporters. “I have to spend my time on issues that really matter to people. I can’t spend my time worrying about things” like Mr. Trump’s situation.