Republicans split in reaction to Trump’s indictment in 2020 election probe

Former Vice President Mike Pence blasts Trump, while other GOP figures defend the former president.

Former United States President Donald Trump’s indictment for allegedly attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election has promoted a variety of reactions from Republicans, including his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

While many prominent Republicans have defended Trump, several others – including, most notably, former Vice President Mike Pence – have criticised the former president.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy cast the indictment as a political effort to divert attention away from investigations into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

“Everyone in America could see what was going to come next: DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump,” McCarthy said in a statement on the social media platform X.

“House Republicans will continue to uncover the truth about Biden Inc. and the two-tiered system of justice.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence

Pence, who is running for the nomination and has accused Trump of pressuring him to help overturn the results of the 2020 election, said the indictment showed the former president’s unfitness for office.

“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 in a statement, adding that Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence and he would have more to say after reviewing the indictment.

“Our country is more important than one man,” Pence added. “Our constitution is more important than any one man’s career.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis, Trump’s closest challenger in the 2024 Republican race, said he had yet to read the indictment but that the case against Trump demonstrated the need for justice reform.

“As President, I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI Director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,” DeSantis said.

“While I’ve seen reports, I have not read the indictment. I do, though, believe we need to enact reforms so that Americans have the right to remove cases from Washington, DC to their home districts.”

Ron DeSantis stands in a suit and tie front of a banner with the CUFI logo
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed concern about the politicisation of the US justice system [File: Kevin Wurm/Reuters]

Senator Tim Scott

Scott, a senator for South Carolina who is running for the Republican candidacy and polling in single digits, expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of the Department of Justice and unequal standards being applied to Trump and Hunter Biden.

“What we see today are two different tracks of justice,” Scott said on X. “One for political opponents and another for the son of the current president.”

Vivek Ramaswamy

Ramaswamy, a biotech founder who is polling in the low single digits for the Republican nomination, described the case as “un-American” and reiterated his promise to pardon Trump if elected.

“This is un-American & I commit to pardoning Trump for this indictment. Donald Trump isn’t responsible for what happened on Jan 6,” Ramaswamy said in a statement posted on X.

“Donald Trump isn’t the cause of what happened on Jan 6. The real cause was systematic & pervasive censorship of citizens in the year leading up to it. If you tell people they can’t speak, that’s when they scream. If you tell people they can’t scream, that’s when they tear things down. If we fail to admit the truth, Jan 6 will just be a preview of far worse to come & I don’t want to see us get there.”

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson, a regular critic of Trump who is near the back of the pack in the 2024 race, said Trump should end his campaign “for the good of the country”.

“This is another sad day for America with a former President being charged criminally for obstructing the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next,” Hutchinson said on X.

“January 6 is a day that calls for accountability for those responsible. I have always said that Donald Trump is morally responsible for the attack on our democracy. Now, our system of Justice will determine whether he is criminally responsible.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan

Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, said the former president did nothing wrong and cast the indictment as “election interference”.

“When you drain the swamp, the swamp fights back,” Jordan said on X.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik

Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, blasted the indictment as a “sham”.

“Today is a dark day for our country as Joe Biden continues to fully weaponize the federal government against President Trump, his leading opponent for the White House in 2024,” Stefanik said. “America was founded on the principle of equal justice under law.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies