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GOP fury grows over Trump indictment



Republicans on Capitol Hill are amping up their defense of former President Trump in the wake of his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, promising congressional action against the New York district attorney and intensifying their rhetoric with tinges of violence.

Trump’s indictment on Thursday capped off days of anticipation after the former president predicted he would be arrested last week and called for protests. Republicans at that time lashed out at the prospect of Trump being indicted.

Now that it is official, some of Trump’s closest congressional allies are escalating their outrage — at the apparent encouragement of the former president — with everything from symbolic handouts of ham sandwiches to calls for protests and threats of retaliatory congressional investigations.


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) earlier this month said, “we don’t need to protest” Trump’s potential arrest, but she changed her tune on Friday.

“I’m going to New York on Tuesday. We MUST protest the unconstitutional WITCH HUNT!” the Georgia Republican wrote on Twitter. Trump is expected to appear in court to hear the charges against him on Tuesday afternoon.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, facetiously suggested the former president act violently when he is en route to his arraignment.

“How can President Trump avoid prosecution in New York?” Graham wrote on Twitter with a thinking face emoji.


“On the way to the DA’s office on Tuesday, Trump should smash some windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop. He would be released IMMEDIATELY!” he wrote in a subsequent tweet, an apparent reference to claims that the New York prosecutor is soft on crime.

Trump’s campaign on Friday distributed a list of more than a hundred statements from Republicans showing support of him and outrage at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), in a clear sign that the former president is keeping track of which Republicans come to his defense.

GOP pushes for Congress to act

A Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on criminal charges Thursday for the alleged part he played in organizing hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictment remains under seal, but several outlets reported that it includes more than 30 counts.

Republicans had already zeroed in on Bragg, painting him as a partisan prosecutor who was out to get Trump. But their retaliation is now going beyond mere statements of outrage.


After Trump teased his potential arrest, a trio of House GOP committee chairs asked Bragg to sit for a transcribed interview to discuss his investigation. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also requested testimony from two prosecutors who resigned from the New York case because of disagreements with Bragg.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office called allegations of politicization “baseless and inflammatory,” warning Congress to not interfere with its prosecution, while also expressing some willingness to provide some information to Congress. 

With the indictment now official, some Republicans are pushing for more congressional action.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday pledged that the House “will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.” And Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who served as physician to the president during the Trump administration, warned in a statement that “it will ultimately be Alvin Bragg that pays the price for this abuse of office.”


“The subpoenas should now fly,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

While Republicans have brushed off concern about interference in a prosecutorial proceeding, the House GOP’s embrace of investigating any “witch hunt” against Trump does risk taking away the focus from a host of its other priorities. 

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) arrives for a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. He issued a warning for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with the indictment of former President Trump.

But Rep. Barry Morre (R-Ala.), another member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Bragg has forced them to investigate the alleged “weaponization” of his office.

“There’s so many important issues before us, but what’s more important than Americans’ liberty and the opportunity to elect the president that you want to elect?” Moore said. “They do in communist countries lock up political opponents, but not in the United States of America.”


Moore took a creative approach with his response to the Trump indictment. In a reference to the adage that a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich” — poking fun at the ease prosecutors have in securing grand jury indictments — Moore handed out ham sandwiches at his Capitol Hill office on Friday.

“You can indict a ham sandwich, as they say, but at the end of the day you get an opportunity to defend yourself in court,” Moore said.

Moore also has some personal experience with indictments. As a state legislator in 2014, he was indicted on charges of perjury and giving false statements; he was later found not guilty.

“Our community really rallied around me and my family. We had more door-knockers that Saturday after I was indicted,” Moore said. “I think it’s important, too, to stand behind President Trump and his family and say, like those folks knocked doors for me, we’re going to come to your rescue as well.”


‘United support’ with nuance

Despite the Trump campaign’s assertions that Republicans are showing “united support” for Trump, some are taking a more subdued attitude about the indictment, waiting to see how the justice process plays out before syncing-up with other GOP lawmakers and calling the indictment a political prosecution.

“I trust our legal system,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told The Hill in a text message. “There’s checks and balances with a jury, judges and appeals. President Trump will be able to make his defense and we’ll all see if this is a partisan prosecution or not.”

The moderate Republican appeared to take a jab at both his colleagues on the right and left for their immediate reactions to the Trump indictment.

“Seems un-American to cheer someone getting indicted or, as well, excoriate a prosecutor before the indictment is even released. I trust our legal system in the long run. We’ll get a clearer picture as time goes on,” he said.


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, said she is “monitoring Donald Trump’s legal situation as it unfolds,” declining to take a side in the growing political debate.

“No one is above the law in this country, but everyone deserves a fair legal process,” Murkowski said in a statement. “The indictment of a former President is unprecedented and must be handled with the utmost integrity and scrutiny.

“Instead of rushing to individual judgment, we must also evaluate the evidence as it becomes available and use it to inform our opinions and statements about what is actually happening,” she added.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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