The field of declared and prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidates on Thursday decried the indictment of former President Donald Trump on criminal charges for his alleged role in organizing hush money payments made to an adult film star during his 2016 campaign.
Trump is one of a handful of declared GOP candidates running for the White House in 2024, with several others mulling a bid of their own.
Here’s what those other Republicans had to say about Trump’s indictment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, perhaps Trump’s most formidable possible challenger in the 2024 race, called Trump’s indictment “un-American” and said the state would not assist in any extradition request. He did not mention Trump by name.
The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American,” DeSantis, who is seen as Trump’s top rival in a potential 2024 GOP primary, tweeted after news of the indictment broke.
“The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent,” DeSantis continued, adding that Florida would not assist in an extradition request “given the questionable circumstances at issue.”
Trump is a Florida resident, but his attorneys have indicated he will turn himself in. He is scheduled to be arraigned next week.
DeSantis has not declared his candidacy, but is expected to do so in the coming months.
A Fox News poll published Wednesday showed Trump drawing 54 percent in a GOP primary field, with DeSantis next closest at 24 percent.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has declared her 2024 candidacy, posted on Twitter that the case is “more about revenge than it is about justice,” linking back to a Fox News interview she conducted last week.
“From everything I’ve seen from this New York district attorney, this is something he’d be doing for political points,” Haley said in the clip. “And I think what we know is when you get into political prosecutions like this it’s more about revenge than it is about justice, and I think the country would be better off talking about things the American public cares about.”
Haley also previously served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.
She launched her campaign in February and has focused largely on what she says is the need for a new generation of leadership in the Republican Party.
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday called a Manhattan grand jury’s decision to indict former President Trump an “outrage.”
“The unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” Pence said on CNN. “And it appears to millions of Americans to be nothing more than a political prosecution that’s driven by a prosecutor who literally ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president.”
Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether Trump should be disqualified from being the 2024 presidential nominee or drop out of the race, Pence said “it’s a long way to that decision.”
“I promise to answer that question if that approaches,” Pence said, adding that he did not want to talk about “hypotheticals.”
Sen. Tim Scott
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who’s also been widely been floated as a 2024 challenger, slammed Trump’s indictment in a statement saying, “this pro-criminal New York DA has failed to uphold the law for violent criminals, yet weaponized the law against political enemies.”
“This is a travesty and it should not be happening in the greatest country on Earth. The presumption of innocence is central to our legal system, yet is selectively discarded by those on the far left today,” he said. “As I travel the country, I hear from families starving for truth. They’re starving for hope.”
“They want the rules to apply to everyone,” the South Carolina Republican added.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R ) urged caution in reacting to the news, but called it a “dark day” for the country.
“It is a dark day for America when a former President is indicted on criminal charges. While the grand jury found credible facts to support the charges, it is important that the presumption of innocence follows Mr. Trump,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
“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,” he continued “Finally, it is essential that the decision on America’s next President 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 has been critical of the former president in the past, calling a Trump 2024 bid a “worst case scenario.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R ) echoed many of his fellow Republicans in reacting to the news, calling the move to indict Trump politicized.
“It is beyond belief that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted a former President and current presidential candidate for pure political gain. Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America,” Youngkin wrote on Twitter.
“The left’s continued attempts to weaponize our judicial system erode people’s faith in the American justice system and it needs to stop,” he added.
It is unclear whether Youngkin will launch a presidential bid, however he has been floated by many in the GOP as a potential contender.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s former secretary of State and CIA director, who has traveled to early primary states as he mulls a 2024 bid, did not mention the former president at all in his statement, instead focusing his ire on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
The Manhattan DA is undermining America’s confidence in our legal system,” Pompeo posted on Twitter. “Bragg is the same Soros-funded prosecutor who refuses to prosecute violent crimes and who has downgraded more than half of all felonies to misdemeanors.”
“Prosecuting serious crimes keeps Americans safe, but political prosecutions put the American legal system at risk of being viewed as a tool for abuse,” Pompeo continued. “DA Bragg – spend taxpayers’ money and your energy protecting law-abiding citizens. Not playing politics.”
Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and declared 2024 candidate, called the charges against Trump “politically motivated” and warned it could accelerate political polarization across the country.
“This is wrong. This is dangerous. We’re skating on thin ice as a country right now. I think we may be headed on our way to a national divorce,” Ramaswamy said in a video posted on social media.
He suggested that competitors in the 2024 GOP primary field should come together and make it clear that it should be up to the voters to decide who the party’s nominee is in 2024.
Ramaswamy called on those who may want to protest to “do it peacefully and do it lawfully.” The comments came after Trump earlier this month urged supporters to protest a potential indictment and later warned if charges were filed, it would bring “death and destruction.”