Several GOP presidential hopefuls have denounced formal investigations of former President Donald Trump — noting that recent indictments are examples of political bias and the weaponization of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Trump has claimed that President Joe Biden is leading the “most corrupt administration in American history” and asserts that probes into his business dealings and handling of classified documents are “baseless” and nothing more than a “witch hunt.”
On Tuesday, Trump was arraigned in a Florida court on 37 federal counts alleging he mishandled classified documents.
Trump supporters gathered outside the courthouse, and many cheered and sang “happy birthday” to him at a nearby restaurant after the proceedings. The positive public response to the arraignment prompted CNN and MSNBC to cut their live feeds.
However, though recent Trump indictments have, in many ways, galvanized the Republican Party and two Republican GOP candidates reside in Florida, only one Republican presidential candidate was at the courthouse on Tuesday to show support for the embattled former president — Vivek Ramaswamy.
Trump is surging in the polls. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows Trump leading his closest rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 30 points.
Vivek Ramaswamy shrewdly announced that his first act would be to pardon Trump if he were elected president. That declaration and his show of support for Trump on Tuesday appeared to some to be a bid to secure a vice presidential or high Cabinet position should Trump become president.
On Tuesday, Ramaswamy charged the Department of Justice with engaging in “police state”-style tactics by arresting the former president.
Speaking in front of the Miami courthouse where Trump was arraigned, Ramaswamy said
Ramaswamy claimed key GOP donors encouraged him not to comment on the Trump issue, saying, “GOP donors … [told] every Republican candidate … to stay away from this … I refuse to abide by being a disciple of the donor class.”
On Tuesday evening, GOP candidate Larry Elder joined Ramaswamy in pledging that if elected president, he “would instruct [his] Attorney General to drop the politically-motivated charges against Trump.”
Gov. DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence both denounced Trump’s indictment. DeSantis alleged a double standard was in play, saying:
“I think there needs to be one standard of justice in this country. Let’s enforce it on everybody and make sure we all know the rules. You can’t have one faction of society weaponizing the power of the state against factions that it doesn’t like, and that’s what you see.”
Mike Pence said, “I can’t defend what is alleged. But the president is entitled to his day in court, he’s entitled to bring a defense, and I want to reserve judgment until he has the opportunity to respond.”