Many of Mr Trump’s allies in the GOP blasted the former president’s indictment in Fulton County, Georgia, before the details of the case were even released.
A grand jury in the Fulton County Superior Court handed down an indictment charging not just Mr Trump but also 18 other defendants including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; his attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; his former attorney John Eastman; attorney Sidney Powell; attorney Jenna Ellis; and former Department of Justice attorney Jeffrey Clark, among others.
The indictment included 41 charges, including solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer; violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organisations Act; multiple charges of false statements and writings; conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer; multiple charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud; and perjury.
But Republicans jumped to Mr Trump’s defence even before these charges became public.
Mr Cruz (R - Texas), who led efforts to try and challenge the 2020 presidential election results, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News programme decrying the indictment, before the release of any details.
“I’m pissed at these over and over and over again, if they’re indictments, it’ll be the fourth indictment of Donald Trump” Mr Cruz, who lost the Republican nomination for president to Mr Trump in 2016, said. “This is disgraceful. Our country’s over 200 years old. We’ve never once indicted a former president, or a candidate or a leading candidate for president and this is Joe Biden and this is the Democrats weaponizing the justice system because they're afraid of the voters.”
Similarly, Sen Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina) told Fox News how Mr Trump spent more on legal fees than he did on campaigning for president. Mr Graham had attempted to avoid testifying before Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s team as she probed into Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia but ultimately testified in November of last year.
“The American people can decide whether they want him to be president or not,” he said. “This should be decided at the ballot box and not in a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail. They’re weaponising the law in this country. They’re trying to take Donald Trump down.”
Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R - Georgia), one of Mr Trump’s biggest defenders in Congress, tweeted that voters did not care about the indictment and just wanted lower gas prices.
“The media and elite Democrats need to stop pearl clutching in their Trump Derangement support groups and go out in the real world where seniors and working folks can’t afford food, bills, and gas,” she tweeted. “How to lose an election 101 is on display by the Get Trump Democrat Party.”
Shortly after the indictment became unsealed, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who voted to object to the 2020 presidential election results as House Minority Leader, criticised the indictment.
“Justice should be blind, but Biden has weaponized government against his leading political opponent to interfere in the 2024 election,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Now a radical DA in Georgia is following Biden’s lead by attacking President Trump and using it to fundraise her political career. Americans see through this desperate sham.”
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik called Ms Willis a “Far Left radical” district attorney who was weaponising her office.
“This blatant interference by the Far Left will not work,” she said. “President Trump will defeat these bogus charges and win back the White House in 2024.”
The X account for the Republican majority on the House Judiciary Committee, which Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH) leads, sent out a series of posts criticising the indictment.
“JUNIOR VARSITY FANI WILLIS,” one post read.
“Frivolous. Pathetic. Sad,” another read.
Sen Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) similarly criticised the indictment and the fact that Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed David Weiss to be special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden.
“The newest charges against Trump in Fulton County come just days after AG Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel in the Hunter Biden case,” she posted. “Once again, the radical Left is targeting the Republican frontrunner, President Trump, to distract from the Biden family corruption.”
In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday morning, former New Jersey governor, Trump foe, and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie called Fulton County DA Fani Willis’s indictment of former president Donald Trump “unnecessary”.
Mr Christie explained that he believed there was no need for it after the federal indictment against Mr Trump that was handed down by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Washington, DC grand jury investigation and argued Ms Willis was possibly driven by ego following her two-year probe at the state level.
“Jack Smith ... swoops in, he charges quickly … This is probably an ego decision ... ‘Hell, I put all this time and effort into this investigation and I want something out of it.’”
Nevertheless, Mr Christie continued to dogged criticism of the former president. Asked about Mr Trump’s accusation that the Georgia indictment was “politically inspired” and “tailored for placement” in the midst of the Republican Party primaries, the former governor responded: “Look, running for president is his choice … It is not an excuse not for the justice system to continue to operate.”
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