Former President Donald Trump’s Republican rivals in 2024 have largely defended him, raising doubts about the legitimacy of his federal charges over his handling of classified documents, while also distancing themselves from his conduct.
The Justice Department on Friday vacated an unprecedented 37-count indictment against Trump — who continues to do so Leading in polls ― we accuse him of mishandling classified documents, obstructing justice and making false testimonies, and threaten him with a significant prison sentence if convicted.
Trump has denied the charges and has maintained his innocence. He has vowed to continue campaigning in the White House even if convicted. Politico reported.
Here’s how his Republican competitors have reacted:
The governor of Florida who is Second behind Trump In the polls, he has refrained from criticizing his Republican rival over the indictment, instead casting doubt on the Justice Department.
DeSantis responded to the indictment Friday by claiming that there is “arming” of government agencies and that there is no “uniform standard of justice in this country.”
“Hillary had the emails,” DeSantis said in a speech this was not referring to Trump by name. “Is there any other standard for a Democratic secretary of state than for a former Republican president?”
Hillary Clinton was investigated for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State. A federal investigation found no evidence of intentional misuse of confidential information by them.
While the former vice president has said Trump is unfit for the presidency, citing Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, he has defended Trump in the classified documents investigation.
pence in one speech on Saturday called the indictment “a sad day for America” and said Trump is presumed innocent rather than guilty.
Pence said Attorney General Merrick Garland must personally and publicly explain why the charges are necessary and “stop hiding behind the special counsel” who brought the charges against his former boss.
Pence was also investigated by the Justice Department after classified documents were found at his home earlier this year. He was recently cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Mistakes were made and I take full responsibility,” Pence said after the documents were found in January.
The former US ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina has not commented critically on her former boss’s handling of the classified documents.
Haley, who was appointed ambassador by Trump, instead criticized the indictment on Friday as “prosecutorial transgression, double standards and politics of revenge.”
“It’s time to leave the endless drama and distractions behind” she said in a brief statement.
The former New Jersey governor and federal prosecutor has openly criticized Trump. On Friday he described the facts of the indictment as “devastating”.
“Is that the kind of behavior we would expect from someone who wants to be President of the United States?” He said CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I think we need to focus on behavior, Jake, and behavior is bad.”
Christie said he believes the number of people speaking out against Trump will “grow” as they understand the facts.
The businessman said CNN on Sunday that the charges against Trump were “deeply politicized” and “selective prosecution.” He said he believes a court will acquit Trump, but also “that a pardon is the right answer here.”
“There’s a difference between bad judgment and breaking the law,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.
Ramaswamy said that if he were in Trump’s position, he personally would not have taken the documents with him when he left the White House, and if he had, he would have returned them when asked.
“I would not have made the judgments that President Trump made. A big reason I’m running this race is because I think I would have made different judgments than Trump,” he said.
The former Arkansas governor and former federal prosecutor urged Trump to end his campaign Statement Thursday that the indictment is a major distraction that “weakens our democracy.”
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Hutchinson said the indictment is “obviously very solid” but it will be a challenging case in court “not because the facts are weak,” but because the defendant is a former president and the jury may not be is impartial.
“We need someone who values military secrets, classified documents and the rule of law,” he said of the next president.
He said Ramaswamy’s suggestion that he would pardon Trump if he were president was nothing more than an attempt to “lure votes” and “get a line of applause.”
“Once you go that route, it’s endless,” he said, adding that such a pardon would undermine the jury system, which found a probable cause to indict Trump, and the rule of law.
The Senator from South Carolina, in a Interviewed by Fox News On Thursday, he said Trump must be presumed innocent and that he will “continue to pray for justice.”
“The scales are weighted,” he said of the Justice Department’s investigation.
North Dakota’s governor has largely remained silent on the charges.
He said CNN on Thursday that his campaign was instead focused on “economy, energy and national security” rather than the past.
He said CBS News On Sunday, he declared that if elected president, he would “follow all rules relating to the handling of classified documents.”
The conservative talk radio host said before the indictment was read that it had been a “sad, pathetic day”.