Trump allies and rivals rally to his defense after claiming his arrest is imminent | donald trump

Top Republicans, including some of Donald Trump’s potential rivals for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, rushed to his defense after the former president said he expected to be arrested next week.

On Saturday, Trump announced he would be arrested on Tuesday in a criminal case involving silent payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, but there has been no official confirmation of the likelihood of charges.

“The idea of ​​indicting a former president of the United States deeply disturbs me, as it does for tens of millions of Americans,” said former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to launch a campaign to the Republican nomination in the coming weeks.

The backlash underscores the political risks faced by potential opponents keen to convince voters it’s time to quit the former president, but must contend with the fact that he remains the party’s most popular figure.

Trump won similar support last summer after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago club as part of an investigation into his handling of classified documents. The research has also proven to be a boon for fundraising.

Among those who came to Trump’s defense on Saturday was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said a possible indictment would be “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA.” [district attorney] who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues his political revenge” against Trump.

McCarthy said he would ask Republican-led House committees “to immediately investigate whether federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.” McCarthy did not endorse Trump’s White House campaign, but Trump helped McCarthy win the presidency after a contentious campaign that required multiple rounds of voting.

On Saturday, Trump posted a message on his Truth Social platform, referring to himself in the third person, saying, “The far-leading Republican nominee and former President of the United States of America will be arrested on Tuesday of the week next.

Law enforcement officials in New York have made security preparations for the possibility that Trump could be indicted, but there has been no public announcement of a delay or indictment.

A spokesperson and lawyer for Trump said later Saturday that his message was based on news reports rather than an actual update or communication with prosecutors. Trump’s message cited “unlawful leaks from a corrupt and highly political Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.”

The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

In his message, Trump called on his supporters to “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!!!”

The message referenced the then-president’s message that preceded the insurgency by extremist supporters on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, which ultimately failed to thwart Joe Biden’s certification of victory.

Former Vice President Mike Pence faces reporters after making remarks at a Republican fundraising dinner. Photography: Steven Senne/AP

Pence, who has stepped up his criticism of the former president in recent weeks, said, “No one is above the law.” He added, “I’m confident President Trump can take care of himself. I will continue to focus on issues that affect the American people. »

Pence had been evasive when asked on Thursday whether Trump should drop out if indicted. “I think it’s a free country. Everyone can make their own decisions,” he said.

Trump has said he will continue his presidential campaign even if indicted.

Representatives for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another potential candidate seen as Trump’s most serious rival, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, another declared candidate, did not address the investigation during her campaign in South Carolina.

It emerged in January that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made the surprise decision to appoint a grand jury to hear evidence in the Daniels case, which had previously disappeared from the spotlight.

Daniels met with investigators in Manhattan earlier this week to discuss Trump’s role in a $130,000 payment she received in 2016 aimed at deterring her from going public during the election on allegations that she had a sexual affair with the married Trump in 2006 – an infidelity that Trump denies.

In 2016, during the election Trump won, his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made the payment and arranged another payment to another woman. Cohen said the money came at Trump’s direction.

In 2018, federal prosecutors charged Cohen with campaign finance crimes related to payments to Daniels and a Playboy model, Karen McDougal, arguing that the payments amounted to ineligible gifts to Trump’s campaign effort. Cohen pleaded guilty, served time in prison, and was disbarred. Federal prosecutors have never charged Trump with any crime.

Any charges in this case would most likely involve state crimes of falsifying business documents, usually a misdemeanor but a felony if part of a cover-up or broader criminal act, and here could revolve around the illegality of campaign financing.

Kevin O’Brien, a former federal prosecutor and now a partner at Ford O’Brien in New York who specializes in white-collar criminal defense, told the Guardian that for a felony charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Trump showed a ” intent to defraud”. when his company “falsely counted” the payments to Daniels as legal fees and argued that the payments amounted to illegal donations to Trump’s 2016 campaign, which would violate New York election law.

O’Brien said any criminal charges against Trump would be messy and confusing for potential voters and jurors.

“How could this guy run for president on conviction for an indictable act of dishonesty?” he said.

Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and says he thinks an indictment would help him in the 2024 race.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump ally, agreed: “The New York prosecutor has done more to help Donald Trump get elected.

Associated Press contributed to this article

theguardian Gt

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