Reactions from several Republican presidential candidates were mixed as news of a four-count indictment against former President Donald Trump was announced on Tuesday.
The 45-page indictment accuses Trump of three conspiracies, claiming that he conspired to defraud the U.S., conspired to obstruct an official proceeding and conspired against people’s rights.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been running a distant second to Trump in the latest polls, said he had not read the indictment but criticized what he called “politicization of the rule of law.”
The second-term governor vowed to “end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans” if elected president, The Washington Post reported.
In a tweet, DeSantis said that “one of the reasons our country is in decline is the politicization of the rule of law.”
Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who called for Trump to end his campaign before the indictments were handed down, called again for the former president to bow out of the race on Tuesday, The New York Times reported.
“The latest indictment reaffirms my earlier call that Donald Trump should step away from the campaign for the good of the country,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “If not, the voters must choose a different path.”
Republican Will Hurd of Texas tweeted that Trump’s campaign is “driven by an attempt to stay out of prison and scam his supporters into footing his legal bills.”
“It’s about time our party, including the 2024 candidates, wake up to the fact that this guy only cares about himself, not our country’s future,” he wrote.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy defended Trump, accusing that the “corrupt federal police” was trying to “eliminate Trump.”
“It is wrong and incorrect and inaccurate to place blame on what happened on January 6th at the feet of Donald Trump,” Ramaswamy said in a video statement.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who served under Trump from 2017 to 2021 and is now seeking the 2024 Republican nomination, also issued a statement.
“Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,” Pence said.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a vocal critic of Trump, called the events surrounding the White House in November 2020 “a stain on our country’s history.”
“This disgrace falls the most on Donald Trump,” Christie tweeted. “He swore an oath to the Constitution, violated his oath & brought shame to his presidency.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said he remained “concerned” about the “weaponization of Biden’s DOJ” and its “immense power used against political opponents.”
“What we see today are two different tracks of justice,” Scott tweeted. “One for political opponents and another for the son of the current president.”