'An outrage': What Trump's potential rivals for 2024 are saying about his indictment
WASHINGTON – As a grand jury in New York voted to indict Donald Trump – a former president and currrent GOP presidential candidate – his actual and would-be 2024 Republican rivals walked a fine line, criticizing the Manhattan district attorney even as many of them weigh a run against the ex-commander in chief.
From Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who announced her presidential bid earlier this year, to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has yet to announce whether he is running for president but has come in second to Trump in several polls, potential GOP presidential contenders have focused their reaction to the former president’s indictment on the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg.
President Joe Biden’s White House declined to comment on Trump’s indictment. Though Biden has not officially announced a reelection bid, the president has said he intends to run in the 2024 election.
Here is what the 2024 hopefuls and possible contenders said about Trump’s indictment:
Live updates: Grand jury indicts Donald Trump in New York, first time a former president is charged criminally
Nikki Haley says indictment is about ‘revenge’ rather than ‘justice’
Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who announced she was running for president in February, said in an interview with Fox News that Bragg’s case is for “political points” and that he is trying to take “revenge” on the former president.
“What we know is when you get into political prosecutions like this, it's more about revenge than it is about justice,” she said. “I think the country would be better off talking about things that the American public cares about than just sit there and have to deal with some revenge by some political people in New York.”
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DeSantis: Florida will not assist in extradition for indictment
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the indictment in a statement on Twitter as “un-American” and said Florida would not assist in an extradition request for Trump.
Trump is staying at his resort Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
"The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” DeSantis said. “It is un-American."
DeSantis stepped up criticism of Bragg on Saturday, claiming the district attorney “is all about politics.”
During a visit to Nassau County, DeSantis called Bragg’s action a “flimsy indictment against a former president of the United States.”
“All these legal gymnastics to act like this is a felony – when almost every other time, he’s trying to take the felonies and downgrade them,” he said.
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Former Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson says Trump should step away from election
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who announced his presidential bid Sunday, said he believes Trump should step away following his indictment.
“I’ve always said that people don’t have to step aside from public office if they’re under investigation, but if it reaches the point of criminal charges that have to be answered, the office is always more important than a person,” Hutchinson said in an interview with ABC News.
The new comments are a reversal from his initial statement Thursday, where Hutchinson said Trump should have a “presumption of innocence.”
"It is a dark day for America when a former President is indicted on criminal charges,” Hutchinson said. “We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day.”
Hutchinson announced his presidential bid Sunday, days after Trump was indicted.
“I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts,” Hutchinson said in an interview with ABC News.
Trump has already announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. Hutchinson said the decision on the next president should be “made at the ballot box and not in the court system.”
“Donald Trump should not be the next President, but that should be decided by the voters,” Hutchinson said.
Poll: Voters have mixed feelings about Trump as 2024 presidential race comes into focus
Virginia Gov. Youngkin: The left is trying to ‘weaponize’ judicial system
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin wrote in a Tweet that Bragg indicted Trump “for pure political gain.”
“Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America,” Youngkin said. “The left’s continued attempts to weaponize our judicial system erode people’s faith in the American justice system and it needs to stop.”
Mike Pompeo says DA is ‘undermining’ confidence in American legal system
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Thursday that Bragg is “undermining America’s confidence in our legal system.”
“Prosecuting serious crimes keeps Americans safe, but political prosecutions put the American legal system at risk of being viewed as a tool for abuse. DA Bragg – spend taxpayers’ money and your energy protecting law-abiding citizens. Not playing politics," he tweeted.
Prosecuting serious crimes keeps Americans safe, but political prosecutions put the American legal system at risk of being viewed as a tool for abuse. DA Bragg - spend taxpayers’ money and your energy protecting law-abiding citizens. Not playing politics. (2/2)
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) March 30, 2023
Pence: Trump indictment ‘an outrage’
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is also weighing a run for president, criticized his former boss’s indictment.
“The unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” Pence said in an interview with CNN.
“It appears to millions of Americans to be nothing more than a political prosecution.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump indictment: How 2024 GOP hopefuls DeSantis, Pence, Haley reacted