On Tuesday, Donald Trump, the 2024 GOP frontrunner and 45th President of the United States appeared in a Miami federal court under prosecution from Biden's DOJ. Trump was charged with mishandling his own classified documents and plead not guilty on all 37 counts.
Among the contenders, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie, and Tim Scott, only Ramaswamy took a stand for Trump and justice, slamming the political prosecution of Trump and going to Miami to make his voice heard.
Trump is leading the field and is widely seen as the man any other contender must best in order to have a shot at facing Biden in the general election. Trump is polling far ahead of his leading competitor DeSantis, and is so far ahead of anyone else as to be essentially unreachable.
1. Vivek Ramaswamy
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who entered the field in February, stood outside the courthouse and said should he win, he is committed to pardoning Donald Trump. He called on all those in the Republican field to do the same or issue an explanation as to why they won’t.
Ramaswamy stated that "it would be a lot easier for me as a Republican candidate if Donald Trump were not in it, but I don’t want to win this election, unlike others, by eliminating our competition by a federal administration police state arresting my opponents."
2. Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who consistently polls second in the field, was absent, both on social media and in Miami. No statement, whether in support or against his primary competitor, was issued. He was generally entirely absent from the campaign trail on Tuesday.
During a Friday campaign stop in Greensboro, North Carolina, DeSantis condemned the weaponization of federal agencies, though he did not mention Trump.
"Our founding fathers would have absolutely predicted the weaponization that we've seen with these agents, particularly Justice and FBI, because when you don't have constitutional accountability, human nature is such that they will abuse power. And that's what happened," DeSantis said.
"The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society," he said on Twitter after the indictment dropped, going on to mention Trump. "We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation," he said. "Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?"
3. Mike Pence
On Tuesday, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence sat down with the Wall Street Journal in their New York conference room, saying that "these are very serious allegations."
"And I can’t defend what is alleged. But the President is entitled to his day in court, he’s entitled to bring a defense, and I want to reserve judgment until he has the opportunity to respond," Pence said.
Pence stressed both that "no one is above the law," and also that "as Americans, you’re innocent until proven guilty." Pence discovered his own trove of classified documents in 2022 after the allegations against Trump came down. He begged for forgiveness and returned them to the government.
4. Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and United States ambassador for the United Nations under Trump, was in Southern California continuing on her campaign trail.
According to the City News Service, tickets to the Newport Beach event ran $1,000 per person.
When asked last week by Fox News about the indictment, Haley was quick to assume the worst of Trump, saying "if this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security."
"This puts all of our military men and women in danger," she said, noting that she's a military wife, "if you are going to talk about what our military is capable of, or how we would go about invading or doing something with one of our enemies."
"And if that’s the case, it’s reckless, it’s frustrating, and it causes problems, and, you know, we’re looking now, this is the second indictment, we’re looking at possibly a third indictment coming in with Georgia. My concern is not so much about how this plays out and what we do with it. My concern is about the direction of the country."
5. Asa Hutchinson
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson sat down with ABC News on Tuesday, telling the outlet that the indictment is "a very strong case."
"Obviously, this is going to have to be tried. You’ve got to prove all of that. But as Bill Barr said, if half of that is approved, then it’s a very devastating case that’s being presented against the former president," he said.
Hutchinson said he was "pleased" that more Republican leaders have stepped up to say "this is serious," and that "more leaders are showing courage and saying this is serious and we should not dismiss it lightly."
Hutchinson slammed Ramaswamy for saying he would pardon Trump. "It is wrong," he said, "it is unjustified, it is a bad precedent." Hutchinson said he would not support Trump if he is nominated but convicted.
6. Chris Christie
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had been a Trump ally until the 2020 election, held a town hall event with CNN on Monday evening leading up to the arraignment, calling Trump a "3-time loser."
7. Tim Scott
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also held a campaign event on June 12 in his home state, saying that the indictment was "a serious case with serious allegations," but added, “What we see today across this administration of President Joe Biden is a double standard."
“That double standard is both un-American and unacceptable. You can’t protect Democrats while targeting and hunting Republicans," he added.
Scott was also not in Miami on Tuesday and did not address the indictment.
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