As former President Donald Trump may be on the verge of indictment in New York, some of his political rivals are preemptively criticizing what would be an unprecedented decision—describing it as “persecution” and a “disaster.”
Speculation has swirled for the past couple weeks that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may be about to press criminal charges against Trump. The charges would be in relation to an alleged 2016 campaign finance violation involving “hush money” payments to adult performer Stephanie Clifford, better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels.
Media reports in recent days suggested an indictment against the former president and his arrest are imminent. Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, added substantial fuel to the speculation on Saturday morning by posting on Truth Social that he would be criminally charged on Tuesday—urging his supporters to protest.
In response to the news, Trump’s rival for the GOP nomination, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, blasted the possibility of indicting the former president.
“A Trump indictment would be a national disaster. It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals. If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush & Cheney were in power, liberals would have cried foul – and rightly so. Principles go beyond partisanship,” the Republican presidential hopeful tweeted.
A Trump indictment would be a national disaster. It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals. If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush & Cheney were in… https://t.co/vRIDRLRuha
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) March 18, 2023
Ramaswamy contended that “the American people” should “decide who governs.” He said Trump’s indictment would “mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself.” The GOP contender urged Bragg to not move forward with criminal charges.
“Our entire country is skating on thin ice right now & we cannot afford to politicize the justice system or else we will reach our breaking point,” Ramaswamy added.
Meanwhile, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence, who is widely believed to be planning a 2024 run, criticized the possibility of an indictment in an interview with Breitbart News Saturday.
“Well, like many Americans, I’m just, I’m taken aback,” he said.
“You have literally a Democratic party that’s literally dismantled the criminal justice system in that city, undercut the NYPD, and this is what the Manhattan DA says is their top priority? It reeks of the kind of political prosecution that we endured back in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole impeachment over a phone call,” Pence said.
Although Ramaswamy, and likely Pence, plan to face-off against Trump in a bid for the GOP’s presidential nod in the next election, they readily jumped to his defense and criticized the possibility of him facing criminal charges. Ramaswamy also urged former Untied Nations ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who is seeking the Republican Party’s 2024 nomination, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen to be a top GOP contender, to speak out as well.
Newsweek reached out to Haley’s and DeSantis’ press representatives via email for comment. DeSantis, like Pence, has not officially announced a 2024 presidential run.
Trump and his allies contend that the investigation and possible indictment in New York are politically motivated. They argue that Democrats are working through the justice system in an effort to prevent Trump from winning in 2024 and to suppress his political movement.
Bragg, a Democrat, and analysts who support an indictment, have said that nobody is above the law, regardless of their political status. The district attorney has said that his investigation is simply following the facts. If Trump is indicted, it will be the first time in U.S. history that a former president is criminally charged.
Some think that an indictment will only benefit Trump as he seeks the presidency again.
“TRUMP WINS IN HISTORIC LANDSLIDE, SAVES THE NATION…[sic],” right-wing strategist Steve Bannon, who served as the CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign and worked as a White House adviser, wrote on Gettr Saturday. Bannon’s post included a screenshot of the same sentiment expressed by billionaire Twitter owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
“If this [indictment] happens, Trump will be re-elected in a landslide victory,” Musk tweeted.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has endorsed Trump for reelection, shared similar sentiments in remarks at a conservative event on Saturday.
“The prosecutor in New York has done more to help Donald Trump get elected president than any single person in America today,” Graham said at the Palmetto Family Council’s Vision ’24 Forum in his home state.
Newsweek reached out to Bragg’s office for comment. Spokespeople for the Manhattan District Attorney have previously declined to comment in response to other media inquiries.
A spokesperson for Trump told Newsweek in an emailed statement that he did not know for certain if he would be indicted on Tuesday.
“There has been no notification, other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC and other fake news carriers, that the George Soros-funded Radical Left Democrat prosecutor in Manhattan has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level,” the spokesperson said. “President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system.”
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