After Donald Trump became the first former president to face a criminal indictment, over hush money payments he made to porn star Stormy Daniels during his first campaign for the White House, Republican elected officials rallied to his defense and claimed that the charges will make the 2020 election loser more popular among his supporters.
Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing, used the indictment to fundraise for his presidential campaign, sending an email asking for money “to defend our movement from the never-ending witch hunts.”
Trump claimed donations would have a “1,500% impact,” without explaining what that meant.
Trump was indicted Thursday, when a state grand jury voted for what remain sealed charges following a long investigation into hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“At the end of the day, he’s confident that most people are going to consider this a politically motivated endeavor,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, a Trump lackey who once called the Apprentice a “lying motherfucker,” according to journalists Susan Glasser and Peter Baker.
On Thursday after talking to the Republican who was vanquished by President Joe Biden in 2020, Graham said, “He thinks most people will see it as a weaponization of the law. … From a political point of view, it’s going to solidify Trump’s standing in the Republican Party.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg emerged as a target for many GOP leaders, raising fear that the prosecutor could face danger for doing his job.
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election,” said Speaker Kevin McCarthy. “As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”
McCarthy is one of several powerful GOP members whose berating of the Manhattan District Attorney over this investigation appear tantamount to obstruction of justice.
The most common forms of obstruction of justice are witness tampering, perjury, and destroying evidence during the course of a government case but not matter what particulars are involved, it is a criminal offense under both federal and state law for which thousands of people go to prison every year.
Aside from failing to stay on this side of the law, McCarthy and other top Republicans, ignored the fact that Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to making the payoffs in violation of federal campaign finance laws.
According to Robert S. Khuzami, the Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “The plea was entered followed the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that Cohen concealed more than $4 million in personal income from the IRS, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a $500,000 home equity loan, and, in 2016, caused $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.”
David Pecker, a longtime Trump friend and the former chief executive of the parent company of The National Enquirer, acknowledged that he communicated with Trump directly at least twice about the “catch and kill” scheme for stories that the payoffs were allegedly designed to cover up.
The publisher of the National Enquirer also acknowledged that the payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, were intended to protect Trump’s presidential campaign.
“The sham New York indictment of President Donald Trump is one of the clearest examples of extremist Democrats weaponizing government to attack their political opponents,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.
Republican Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who has pledged to run a neutral presidential nominating process, reacted within minutes to the news of a New York grand jury’s indictment of her party’s leading candidate, Donald Trump, calling the move a “blatant abuse of power” that “endangers us all.”
The former president’s likely presidential rivals were not far behind. Aides to both former vice president Mike Pence and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley — who had previously called the investigation by Alvin Bragg a political prosecution — pointed to their previous statements criticizing the case.
After initially declining to address the news at a book tour event in Smyrna, Ga., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis put out a statement calling the indictment “un-American,” condemning the “weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda” and pledging not to assist any extradition request to his state that results.
Increasingly vocal elected officials and party donors view the 2020 election loser as an impediment to the GOP’s future but these serious allegations have muted Republican critics and inspired a unified wall of opposition to holding Trump accountable for any crime, from his illegal hush money payoffs in New York, to election tampering in Georgia and hording stolen top secret documents in Florida.
A criminal indictment or conviction does not legally disqualify Trump from running for or winning the presidency, although few voters are seriously interested in making a criminal the leader of the free world.
One in four Republicans think charges against Trump should disqualify him from running in 2024, compared to 57 percent of all Americans who feel that way.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, released a statement saying the indictment was “a political witch hunt” and a “dark day for America.”
The response from key congressional Republicans came as the indictment against Trump was filed under seal and will be announced in the coming days.
The charges are not publicly known at this time, but Trump’s cavalier attitude toward laws that restrict, govern or require his conduct, make it extremely likely that he has engaged in numerous activities that are unlawful but since he has maintained a battery of lawyers and aggressively countered accusations, he has been largely able to obfuscate or otherwise escape accountability.
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