Here’s How Each of Trump’s GOP Primary Rivals Reacted to His Indictment


AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, Meg Kinnard

Former President Donald Trump’s 2024 Republican primary rivals had mixed opinions on the news of his indictment over the handling of classified documents on Thursday evening.

Chris Christie

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — a former Trump ally who has since become a vocal critic of the 45th president — reacted to the news by saying he would issue a full statement “when the facts are revealed.”

“We don’t get our news from Trump’s Truth Social account,” wrote Christie on Twitter. “Let’s see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released. As I have said before, no one is above the law, no matter how much they wish they were. We will have more to say when the facts are revealed.”

Ron DeSantis

Trump’s top primary rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, responded to the news of Trump’s indictment in a post on Twitter.

“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society,” he wrote. “We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation.”

DeSantis questioned, “Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?” before pledging, “The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all.”

In March, following Trump’s separate indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis called the move “un-American” and announced Florida would not assist in extraditing Trump “given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.”

Larry Elder

Conservative radio host and presidential candidate Larry Elder reacted on Twitter, “More partisan prosecution! Hillary violates the Espionage Act—yet skates. FBI/DOJ whistleblowers tell of 2-tiered justice. FBI informant doc claims Joe & Hunter got $10mil in bribes.”

“O.J. Simpson will catch the killer or killers of Ron and Nicole before the Hunter probe is over,” he concluded.

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was silent on Thursday evening in the immediate hours following news of Trump’s indictment.

Haley did respond to Bragg’s separate indictment in March, however, which she called a “political prosecution” and said was “more about revenge than it is about justice.”

Asa Hutchinson

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson released a full statement on Thursday evening calling for Trump to “end his campaign” in response to the news of the former president’s indictment:

With the news that Donald Trump has been indicted for the second time, our country finds itself in a position that weakens our democracy. 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. While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign.

Mike Pence

Like Haley, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence — who officially entered the presidential race this week — did not immediately respond to the news of Trump’s indictment on Thursday evening.

However, during an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Wednesday, Pence said while the “handling of classified materials is a very serious matter,” he did not want to see Trump indicted for several reasons.

“I think it would be terribly divisive to the country,” he said. “This kind of action by the Department of Justice I think would only fuel further division in the country.”

Pence also said an indictment would “send a terrible message to the wider world,” as the United States is “the emblem of democracy” and “the symbol of justice in the world.”

“I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment,” he told Bash.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Businessman and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy released both a statement and a video in response to the news of Trump’s indictment.

“We can’t have two tiers of justice: one for Trump, another for Biden. One for Assange, another for Manning. One for BLM/Antifa, another for peaceful protesters on Jan 6,” wrote Ramaswamy on Twitter:

I never thought we’d see the day when the U.S. President deputizes the DOJ to arrest his lead rival in the middle of an election. Obama shamefully tried to deputize the FBI to infiltrate Trump’s 2016 campaign, but they’re leaving nothing to chance this time around: the federal police state is outright arresting Trump. This is an affront to every citizen: we cannot devolve into a banana republic where the party in power uses police force to arrest its political opponents. It’s hypocritical for the DOJ to selectively prosecute Trump but not Biden.

Ramaswamy wrote that while “it would be much easier for me to win this election if Trump weren’t in the race,” he would “commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025 and to restore the rule of law in our country” if elected president.

Tim Scott

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) responded to Trump’s indictment in an interview with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner.

“What we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against a former president,” he said:

You don’t have to be a Republican to see injustice and want to fix it. You don’t have to be a Democrat to see injustice and want to fix it. You just have to be an American and stand up for the right thing. I don’t care whether you’re in my party or not in my party. I don’t care if you look like me or not. The one thing that makes America the city on the hill is confidence in our justice system, and today what we see is a justice system where the scales are weighted.

In his own statement on Thursday, Trump called the indictment “election interference at the highest level” and claimed he was being targeted due to his success in the polls.

“It’s called election interference. They’re trying to destroy a reputation so they can win an election,” Trump alleged. “So I just want to tell you, I’m an innocent man, I did nothing wrong, and we’ll fight this out just like we’ve been fighting for seven years.”

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