Republicans React to News of Potential Trump Indictment

March 20, 2023

Republicans reacted over the weekend to news that former President Trump expects to be indicted this week. 

On Saturday Trump said on his Truth Social site that he is set to be arrested Tuesday based on charges by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office surrounding “hush money” payments to the adult film actress known as “Stormy Daniels” ahead of the 2016 election.

Hours after Trump posted, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he was “directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”

“Here we go again,” McCarthy tweeted, “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.”

On Sunday, McCarthy said he had spoken about the situation with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government.

McCarthy also on Sunday cautioned Trump supporters against protesting, should Trump be indicted.

“I don’t think people should protest this, no,” McCarthy said during a news conference. “And I think President Trump, if you talk to him, he doesn’t believe that, either.”

However, in Trump’s Saturday Truth Social post, he had—in all caps—specifically called on his followers to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” 

Both Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) and GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) over the weekend accused Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg of trying to turn the U.S. into a “third-world country.”

It’s not clear what charges prosecutors might be exploring. However, legal experts have surmised that one potential crime could be the way the payments to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen were structured and falsely classified internally as being for a legal retainer. Cohen has asserted that he paid $130,000 in hush money to Daniels out of his own personal funds, then was reimbursed by the Trump Organization and also paid extra bonuses for a total that eventually rose to $420,000.

New York has a law against falsifying business records, but it’s a misdemeanor—unless the falsifying of records is done in conjunction with a more serious felony.

The criminal indictment of a former U.S. President would be an unprecedented act in U.S. history. If Manhattan’s D.A. office were to indict, it could potentially open the door for other prosecutors as Trump is under criminal investigation not just in New York, but also in Georgia and the federal government for his role in attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House and moved to Florida.

All of these investigations are occurring as Trump is running for reelection in 2024.

Vance tweeted Saturday that a “politically motivated prosecution makes the argument for Trump stronger.”

However, former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie (R) asserted that “at the end, being indicted never helps anybody. It’s not a help.”

“It seems quite possible, or even likely, that Trump will be defending himself in four different criminal cases as he is campaigning for President in 2024,” said Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for eastern Michigan (whose political affiliation is not cited). “Making court appearances in New York, Georgia, Florida and Washington DC while also maintaining a campaign schedule may prove to be a daunting task.”

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