“I think it just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country. It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here,” Pence said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Pence, like several other Republicans who want to challenge Trump for the presidential nomination or who are aligned with Trump’s rivals, jumped into the unlikely position of defending the party leader they hope to defeat. The positioning is another sign of how much Trump has helped change political norms while previous candidates may have been open to scrutiny that could have disqualified their political rivals.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been investigating a $130,000 payment Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen said he made just before the 2016 election to Stephanie Clifford — an adult film star named Stormy Daniels — to ensure that she would remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump. Trump has denied the affair, but has admitted that he repaid Cohen for the payment to Daniels, “to stop the false and extortionate allegations from her.”
Trump surprised his advisers Saturday morning by posting an all caps message on his Truth Social platform claiming to be arrested Tuesday in that investigation.
Several leaders in the GOP suggested that impeachment would help rather than harm Trump’s campaign to win back the White House.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), a moderate man eager to enter the race who has said the Trump party is “moving on,” said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the pending charges against Trump ” a lot of sympathy for the former president.”
Sununu said he met people earlier Sunday, “none of them were big Trump supporters, but they all said they felt he was under attack.”
Sununu also downplayed the content of the allegations against Trump. “There are other issues that are really precedent in terms of where this country needs to go,” Sununu said.
Vivek Ramaswamy attempted to bolster his announced bid for the 2024 Republican nomination by harshly denouncing the case against Trump. He described it as “the ruling party of this country using the power of the police to arrest its political opposition”.
Ramaswamy, who is considered a long-running candidate, also demanded others join him in this opposition, including Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina, who jumped into the race last month. Haley’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
“We have to want to win, not by eliminating the competition, but by winning the actual trust of the voters,” said Ramaswamy. said in a press release he posted on Twitter.
In particular, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not formally entered the 2024 race but is considered Trump’s biggest rival among Republicans, has not commented on the hush money case this weekend.
But Representative Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who called DeSantis “America’s Governor” last November, said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the case against Trump was grossly unfair.
“I think this is one of the worst uses of the justice system we’ve ever seen,” Donalds said. “It will plunge all of America into even more chaos.”
Then, referring to the Manhattan district attorney, Donalds added, “What Alvin Bragg is doing is wrong. He shouldn’t be going after Donald Trump.”
On Sunday afternoon, Trump again posted to Truth Social claiming, “There was no crime, period.” He also labeled the investigation as “prosecution misconduct and election interference”.
Many of the GOP leaders on the Sunday shows expressed no qualms about Trump’s earlier calls for “PROTEST” and “TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” in his posts.
When asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl about the possibility of renewed violence following Trump’s calls for protests, Pence objected, saying that “the American people have a constitutional right to come together peacefully.” Pence also declined to comment on the merits of the case regarding the hush money payments.
Pence said he believed the American people “know what happened” after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. “They know that the president’s reckless words that day put people in the Capitol at risk, including me and my family.”
The New York Police Department has held internal meetings, including one Sunday, to discuss options for handling protests surrounding a possible Trump court appearance. A larger face-to-face meeting is expected early this week with representatives of the NYPD and other agencies that may be involved in security, including the Attorney General’s Office, the Secret Service, New York State court officials and state court judges, people with knowledge of said the effort.
City officials will likely have to determine how much leeway protesters are allowed — including how close they can get to the courthouse and how much behavior is allowed before making any arrests, said one of the people who spoke about the condition of anonymity to share private planning efforts.
The Justice Department recently said more than 999 people who were present at the Jan. 6 riots have been arrested on charges of assault, entering a prohibited federal building, destruction of government property and conspiracy. The Washington Post reported that prosecutors expect the final number of people charged with crimes related to Jan. 6 to be anywhere from 1,600 to 2,100, according to a recent letter.
Law enforcement and court officials are bracing for confrontation should Trump be arrested in the Manhattan case. Bragg sent a memo to employees Politico was assigned, saying his office “would not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.”
Bragg added, “Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office are fully investigated and appropriate precautions are taken so that all 1,600 of us have a safe working environment.”
Meanwhile, the New York Young Republican Club announced it would hold a “peaceful protest” in lower Manhattan on Monday against “Alvin Bragg’s heinous attack” on Trump. “Members only,” it said. “Rally location will be provided with RSVP.”
Fenit Nirappil and Shayna Jacobs contributed reporting.