2024 GOP Presidential Candidates React to Potential Trump Jan. 6 Indictment

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
July 18, 2023Donald Trump
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2024 GOP Presidential Candidates React to Potential Trump Jan. 6 Indictment
Then-President Donald Trump at the Stop the Steal rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Jenny Jing/The Epoch Times)

Several contenders in the 2024 Republican presidential race are sharing their thoughts after one of their competitors, former President Donald Trump, indicated he may be indicted over the breach at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Trump published a press statement on Tuesday, revealing he received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith on Sunday night that informed him he is the target of an investigation into the breach of the U.S. Capitol and giving him four days to report to a grand jury. He said this short timeline to comply “almost always means an Arrest and Indictment” is coming. The former president decried the development as a “WITCH HUNT,” an act of “ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” and a “COMPLETE AND TOTAL POLITICAL WEAPONIZATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT” by President Joe Biden’s administration against the leading Republican presidential candidate.

It remains to be seen what, if any charges may come against Mr. Trump over the breach at the U.S. Capitol more than two and a half years ago. As the then-president, Mr. Trump had called on supporters to rally in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 as he raised objections to the certification of the 2020 election results. As Mr. Trump spoke at the Ellipse, some of the gathered crowds began moving over to the Capitol, and some people entered the building and clashed with Capitol Police, disrupting congressional proceedings.

Ron DeSantis

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has consistently ranked second in Republican primary polling, gave a mixed reaction to Mr. Trump’s comments about a potential indictment, saying the former president could have done more to stop the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but suggested Mr. Trump’s actions weren’t criminal and criticized the idea of jailing political opponents.

“So look, there’s a difference between being brought up on criminal charges and doing things like, for example, I think it was shown how he was in the White House and didn’t do anything while, while things were going on. He should have come out more forcefully, of course, that,” Mr. DeSantis said at a campaign event in South Carolina on Tuesday. “But to try to criminalize that, that’s a different issue entirely, and I think that we want to be in a situation where, you know, you don’t have one side just constantly trying to put the other side in jail. And that unfortunately is what we’re seeing now.”

During the campaign event, Mr. DeSantis said he hadn’t been able to look more closely at the possible developments involving Mr. Trump and the Jan. 6 case.

Vivek Ramaswamy

In a video statement addressing the developments against the former president, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy called potential charges against Mr. Trump “un-American.”

“We’re not supposed to be a country where the party in power uses police force to indict and eliminate its political opponents,” Mr. Ramaswamy said.

He described the case of Couy Griffin, a democratically-elected county commissioner from Otero County, New Mexico, who was removed from office by the New Mexico state Supreme Court over his involvement in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Griffin was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of entering restricted grounds while found not guilty on a second misdemeanor charge of disorderly and disruptive conduct.

Mr. Ramaswamy noted Mr. Griffin was not violent and, though he was on Capitol grounds, did not enter the building itself. Mr. Ramaswamy said Mr. Griffin was removed from his county commissioner seat on the grounds that the Jan. 6 Capitol breach was an “insurrection,” and that by being on Capitol grounds during this event, he was subject to removal from office under the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause. Mr. Ramaswamy argued that an attempt to charge and convict Mr. Trump in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol breach may serve as a similar effort to deny Mr. Trump ballot access in certain states or to remove him from office if he wins the 2024 election.

“If we go down this road of weaponizing our justice system against disfavored political opponents, then Jan. 6, 2021, will just be a preview of far worse to come,” he said.

Nikki Haley

Former Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, suggested Mr. Trump should bow out of the 2024 Republican contest, saying it will only serve as a distraction for the rest of the primary.

“The rest of this primary election is going to be in reference to Trump, it’s going to be about lawsuits, it’s going to be about legal fees, it’s going to be about judges, and it’s going to continue to be a further and further distraction,” Ms. Haley said in an interview with Fox News.

She said responding to Mr. Trump’s legal woes takes the Republican emphasis off of other critical issues in the election, such as foreign policy, the national debt, and border security.

“We need to focus on the debt and the lack of transparency in schools and crime and the craziness on the border,” she said. “We can’t be sitting there focused on lawsuits over and over again.”

Asa Hutchinson

Former Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also called on Mr. Trump to suspend his campaign and went further than Ms. Haley, saying the former president’s actions on Jan. 6 should disqualify him.

“I have said from the beginning that Donald Trump’s actions on January 6 should disqualify him from ever being President again. As a former federal prosecutor, I understand the severity of Grand Jury investigations and what it means to be targeted by such an investigation,” Mr. Hutchinson’s said in a press statement. “Donald Trump has confirmed that he is a target of this investigation and will likely be indicted once again.

“While Donald Trump would like the American people to believe that he is the victim in this situation, the truth is that the real victims of January 6th were our democracy, our rule of law, and those Capitol Police officers who worked valiantly to protect our Capitol. Anyone who truly loves this country and is willing to put the country over themselves would suspend their campaign for President of the United States immediately. It is disappointing that Donald Trump refuses to do so.”

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