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Trump’s 2024 Republican presidential rivals come to his defense after indictment

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination came to his defense Thursday after he was indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan, a sign the former president’s continued power within the party.

Many of his declared or potential rivals were quick to claim that the potential lawsuits were only about politics rather than the possibility that Trump may have committed a crime.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called it “un-American” and “militarizing the legal system to advance a political agenda.”

“The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney consistently broke the law to downgrade crimes and excuse criminal wrongdoing. Yet now he is expanding the law to target a political opponent,” DeSantis said in a statement. job to Twitter.

He vowed that Florida “will not assist with an extradition request” in what he called “questionable circumstances involved.”

DeSantis is not yet a candidate, but he is widely seen as the likeliest alternative to Trump, and as a result has been the target of relentless attacks by the ex-president for months.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who became the first major candidate to challenge Trump in 2024, posted a video of herself before the indictment was released, criticizing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“This is more about revenge than justice,” said Haley, who served as an ambassador to the UN under Trump. tweeted THURSDAY.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told CNN that Trump’s indictment was just “one more example of the criminalization of politics in this country.”

“I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” Pence said Thursday night. “And it seems for millions of Americans, it’s nothing more than a political pursuit.”

He said it was “a great disservice to the country”.

Pence, who was aggressively criticized by Trump for refusing to overturn his election defeat and subjected to “hang Mike Pence!” chants of Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, is considering a 2024 run. He said the indictment would have “no bearing” on his decision.

Sen. Tim Scott, R.S.C., who is taking action for a presidential bid, criticized Bragg as a “pro-criminal New York prosecutor” who has “weaponized the law against political enemies.”

“It’s a travesty and it shouldn’t be happening in the greatest country in the world. The presumption of innocence is at the heart of our legal system, but today it is selectively rejected by those on the far left. “, he said in a statement provided to NBC News. “As I travel the country, I hear of families starving for the truth. They are hungry for hope. They want the rules to apply to everyone.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has been encouraged by some to run for president, called the indictment “fabricated” and motivated by “pure political gain”.

The rush to defend Trump could bolster the ex-president’s political power within the GOP, at least in the short term, as he leads most polls for the nomination.

A pro-Trump Republican strategist said bluntly, “This is political gold for Trump. The message is simple: if Trump is not the nominee, then election interference has worked and corrupt prosecutors have won.

On Fox News, conservative commentators also speculated that Trump would benefit from his political base as a result of the indictment.

Former prosecutor Francey Hakes quoted Obi-Wan Kenobi from “Star Wars” as saying, “If you take me down, I’ll become more powerful than you can imagine.” She said that as far as Trump and his movement are concerned, being indicted will mean they “become more powerful than they can imagine.”

But leading Democrats and conservative critics of Trump have countered that no one is above the law and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois who served on the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN on Thursday that his former GOP colleagues should “take a deep breath” and wait to read the charges and evidence before to assume that Trump has not committed a crime. crime.

He said the ‘premeditated’ decision to go after Bragg ‘without having a clue what’s in’ the indictment represents ‘cowardice’ or political aims on the part of Republicans defending Trump.

Asa Hutchinson, a former Arkansas governor who is considering a presidential run, took a more measured approach and urged people not to jump to conclusions.

“We have to wait for the facts and for our American justice system to work the way it does for thousands of Americans every day,” he said, adding that Trump “shouldn’t be the next president.” But, he added, “that should be decided by the voters.”

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