‘No one is above the law’: Reactions to Trump indictment

Democrats welcome charges as US prosecutors unseal indictment over Donald Trump’s handling of classified files.

Former US President Donald Trump has denied the allegations against him [File: Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo]

Prosecutors in the United States have unsealed an indictment against Donald Trump, accusing the former president of putting the country’s national security at risk by mishandling classified documents after he left the White House in 2021.

The Republican leader faces 37 criminal charges, including counts of retaining classified information, obstructing justice and making false statements, among other allegations.

The federal indictment released on Friday accused Trump of mishandling classified documents that included information about the secretive US nuclear programme and potential domestic vulnerabilities in the event of an attack.

The former president, who is expected to appear at a federal court in Florida on Tuesday, had said a day earlier that the indictment was forthcoming. He has rejected the charges as politically motivated; Trump is the frontrunner in the race for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination.

Below are some reactions from US politicians and officials before and after the indictment was formally unsealed.

Jack Smith, special counsel in the US Justice Department probe

“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone.

“Applying those laws, collecting facts – that’s what determines the outcome of an investigation, nothing more, nothing less.”

Kevin McCarthy, Republican Speaker of the House

“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a president to indict the leading candidate opposing him,” McCarthy said on Thursday before the indictment was released.

“Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponisation of power accountable.”

Ron DeSantis, Florida governor and candidate for the Republican nomination

“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society.

“We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation. Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?

“The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all.”

Asa Hutchinson, candidate for the Republican nomination

“Donald Trump’s actions – from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law – should not define our nation or the Republican Party.

“This is a sad day for our country.”

Andy Briggs, Republican representative

“We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.”

Adam Schiff, Democratic representative

“Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges arising from his retention of classified materials is another affirmation of the rule of law.

For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been.”

Mitt Romney, Republican senator

“By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr. Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others.

“Mr. Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.”

Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic House leader

“The rule of law is central to the integrity of our democracy. It must be applied without fear or favor. To everyone.”

Mike Quigley, Democratic representative

“No one is above the law. Not even Donald Trump,” Quigley wrote on Twitter.

Vivek Ramaswamy, candidate for the Republican nomination

“It would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race, but I stand for principles over politics. I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025, and to restore the rule of law in our country.”

Tim Scott, senator and candidate for Republican presidential nomination

Scott said he felt the justice system’s “scales are weighted” based on politics.

“In America, every single person is presume innocent, not guilty,” Scott said on Fox News, decrying “the weaponization of the Department of Justice against the former president”.

Dan Goldman, Democratic representative

“Once again, a grand jury has found probable cause to indict former President Trump. This country was founded on the principle that we are a government of laws, not people and that no person, not even a former president, is above the law.

“We are blessed with a legal system that is designed to vindicate the robust rights of all defendants, and just like any other criminal defendant, Donald Trump has longstanding constitutional rights to a trial by jury, to confront his accusers, and to legal counsel.

“If he believes that the legal or factual basis for his indictment is unfounded, he can make that argument to a judge, who decides the law, or a jury, which decides the facts. But this case should be litigated in the court of law, not the court of public opinion and most definitely not the halls of Congress.”

Elise Stefanik, Republican representative

“The American people are smart and understand this is the epitome of the illegal and unprecedented weaponisation of the federal government against Joe Biden’s leading opponent, President Donald J Trump. The radical Left will stop at nothing to interfere with the 2024 election in order to prop up the catastrophic presidency and desperate campaign of Joe Biden.”

Bruce Fein, former US associate attorney general

“If we accept the truthfulness of the many of the stories appearing in the newspapers then they’ve got wealth of evidence that Mr. Trump knew about where these documents were. That he was plotting to hide them.

“They have got video, they have got people who were involved in moving them around. They even have a story that they went through dress rehearsal as how they can conceal some of these documents from federal authorities.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies