Donald Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are weighing in on Tuesday’s blockbuster announcement that the former president’s been indicted in the probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
One of the first to release a statement was former CIA spy and former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a long-shot for the nomination and a very vocal GOP Trump critic.
‘Let me be crystal clear: Trump’s presidential bid is driven by an attempt to stay out of prison and scam his supporters into footing his legal bills. Furthermore, his denial of the 2020 election results and actions on Jan. 6 show he’s unfit for office,’ Hurd wrote.
It was a very different reaction from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s a distant second to Trump in the latest GOP presidential nomination polls but ahead of the rest of the large field of Republican contenders.
‘As President, I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI Director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,’ DeSantis stated.
The former president was indicted on four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. Trump’s been ordered to appear on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET before a federal magistrate judge in the nation’s capital.
Trump was informed two weeks ago by the office of Jack Smith, the Justice Department special counsel in the case, that he was a target of their probe into his actions and state of mind on Jan. 6, 2021, and in the lead-up to that infamous day – when hundreds stormed the U.S. Capitol. The attack temporarily disrupted congressional certification of then-President-elect Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory over Trump.
The indictment alleges that Trump pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the 2020 presidential election results through three criminal conspiracies, and it alleges that the then-president also corruptly obstructed and impeded the certification of the electoral vote.
Hurd, who drew plenty of boos from the crowd last weekend at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Dinner when he criticized Trump, emphasized in his statement on Tuesday that ‘the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, rigged, or fraudulent. It was lost by Donald Trump because he was incapable of uniting the country. Now, we’ve got to ask ourselves if we really want a president who’s willing to violate his oath to the Constitution just to cling to power?’
‘The Trump of 2016 is a far cry from the desperate figure we see in 2024,’ Hurd argued. ‘It’s about time our party, including the 2024 candidates, wake up to the fact that this guy only cares about himself, not our country’s future.’
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, another vocal Trump critic who’s challenging the former president for the nomination, called this ‘another sad day for America with a former President being charged criminally for obstructing the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next.’
‘I have always said that Donald Trump is morally responsible for the attack on our democracy,’ Hutchinson wrote. ‘Now, our system of Justice will determine whether he is criminally responsible. The latest indictment reaffirms my earlier call that Donald Trump should step away from the campaign for the good of the country. If not, the voters must choose a different path.’
DeSantis, in his statement, stressed that he believes ‘we need to enact reforms so that Americans have the right to remove cases from Washington, DC to their home districts. Washington, DC is a ‘swamp’ and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality. One of the reasons our country is in decline is the politicization of the rule of law. No more excuses—I will end the weaponization of the federal government.’
Vivek Ramaswamy, another rival for the nomination, charged in his statement that ‘the corrupt federal police just won’t stop until they’ve achieved their mission: eliminate Trump. This is un-American & I commit to pardoning Trump for this indictment.’
Ramaswamy, a multimillionaire entrepreneur, best-selling author and crusader in the culture wars, argued that ‘Donald Trump isn’t the cause of what happened on Jan 6. The real cause was systematic & pervasive censorship of citizens in the year leading up to it.’
Trump, who’s the commanding front-runner in the GOP nomination race as he makes his third straight White House run, earlier this year became the first sitting or former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime.
Trump pleaded not guilty in early April in New York City to charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The former president was indicted for allegedly giving hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of that year’s presidential election over her claims she had sexual encounters years earlier with Trump.
The former president denies sleeping with Daniels and denies falsifying business records to keep the payment concealed.
Trump was indicted and arraigned in early June for his alleged improper retention of classified records. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Miami to criminal charges that he illegally retained national security records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, following the end of his term as president and that he obstructed federal efforts to recover the documents. In total, Trump faces 37 felony charges in the documents case.
But the indictments have only strengthened Trump’s standing among his base of devoted supporters. And his lead over the rest of the field of GOP rivals has increased in the wake of the multiple indictments.
The Trump campaign, in a statement to Fox News, accused the Biden administration and the Justice Department of ‘election interference’ and charged that ‘the lawlessness of these persecutions of President Trump and his supporters is reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the former Soviet Union, and other authoritarian, dictatorial regimes.’
And the Trump-aligned super PAC MAGA Inc. argued that the former president ‘is undeterred and his unprecedented America First movement will carry him back to the White House, where he will dismantle the Deep State and bring the Biden Crime Family to justice.’
This is a developing story. Check back for updates on FoxNews.com.