Observers, including legal experts, say the nation is on perilous ground after a New York grand jury proceeded with an indictment of former President Donald Trump on March 30.
The charges, brought by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, revolved payments made by Trump’s lawyer to Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 election.
Bragg’s office has ordered Trump to appear at at an agreed-upon time for booking on Tuesday, which includes being fingerprinted, having his mugshot taken, and being read his Miranda rights.
Trump, who has announced his bid for president in the 2024 election, has denied any wrongdoing, and released a lengthy statement describing the March 30 indictment as “political persecution and election interference.”
Reaction from those close to Trump, his attorney, Republicans and Democrats was swift.
Here’s a recap of those reactions.
Trump’s attorney on indictment
Trump’s attorney Joseph Tacopina weighed in on the unprecedented moment in history brought about by indictment.
“I’ve spoken to him,” Tacopina said when asked about Trump’s reaction to the indictment. “He’s angry, disappointed, but he’s ready to fight. He’s a pretty tough guy—his knees don’t buckle, so he’ll be ready to go.”
“We’re indicting the former president United States of America, for the first time, on a civil confidentiality agreement that’s legal across the board in any state in this country, and nothing more,” Tacopina said. “And it’s really, really, really troubling to me.”
“It’s a very sad day for the United States of America because today’s the day, I believe, that the rule of law died,” the attorney said. “And it’s not something that anyone should be happy about, whether you’re aligned with the right or the left.”
Don Trump Jr. also addressed the matter in a video statement on Rumble, in which he compared the indictment to communist tactics by tyrants like Mao and Stalin.
“Apparently, Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is actually indicting my father,” he said. “Let’s be clear, folks. This is like communist-level [expletive]. This is stuff that would make Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot … it would make them blush.”
“It’s so flagrant, it’s so crazed,” he added.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said the indictment of the former president is “a great disservice to the country” and that he thinks millions of Americans will see it as “nothing more than a political prosecution.”
“I think that offends the notion of the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe in fairness, who believe in equal treatment before the law,” Pence said, adding that singling out Trump appears to be an example of “a two-tiered justice system,” and that the American people are fed up with it.
“This is a bad decision by a political prosecutor,” he said.
Possible Trump opponent DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said his state would not cooperate with authorities if asked.
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American. The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct,” DeSantis said. “Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent.
“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” DeSantis added.
“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head.
“It is un-American.
“The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney [Alvin Bragg] has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent.
Mike Pompeo: undermines confidence
Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under Trump and may jump into the 2024 field, also joined the GOP outrage.
“The Manhattan DA is undermining America’s confidence in our legal system. Bragg is the same Soros-funded prosecutor who refuses to prosecute violent crimes and who has downgraded more than half of all felonies to misdemeanors,” he said on Twitter.
The GOP presidential campaign of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served under Trump as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, referred The Epoch Times to Haley’s remarks on Fox News anchor Bret Baier’s show “Special Report” last week. Haley accused Bragg of trying to score “political points.”
Democrats also weighed in
“Donald Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.
House Minority Whip Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) intoned a common refrain in Democrat responses: “Fundamental to the strength and survival of democracy is the principle that no one is above the law—including a former President of the United States.”
“We must allow the judicial process to continue unimpeded and free from any form of political interference or intimidation. This is not a time for partisanship, but for all Americans to act peacefully and put their faith in the justice system,” Clark wrote.
California Democrat Adam Schiff commented on the uniqueness of the situation and repeated the most common refrain among democratic lawmakers, that no one is above the law.
“The indictment of a former president is unprecedented. But so too is the unlawful conduct in which Trump has been engaged. A nation of laws must hold the rich and powerful accountable, even when they hold high office. Especially when they do. To do otherwise is not democracy,” Schiff posted on Twitter.
Some Democrats indulged virtual jubilation, and some finger-wagging.
“Grand Jury votes to indict Trump!” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) wrote on Twitter, later adding a more measured response.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) sounded similarly pleased, writing, “SO Trump finally got indicted! I predicted he would and I predicted that Stormy Daniels would get him! Sometimes justice works! #TrumpIndictment.”
“It’s the smallest and longest-awaited bit of comeuppance for tens of millions of Americans, but man, we’ll take it,” said Democratic Strategist Christy Setzer.
“Let us remember that Donald Trump is still under investigation for several other possible crimes, including some that were much more damaging to our national security and our democracy. He must be held accountable for his actions,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).
“This is not a moment to celebrate. This is a terrible moment for the country. But no one is above the law,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) posted on Twitter.
–Metro Voice and wire services