Haley Defends Trump as 2024 GOP Rival Faces Possible Arrest

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
March 21, 2023Politics
Haley Defends Trump as 2024 GOP Rival Faces Possible Arrest
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event in the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 17, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, came out in defense of her primary opponent, former President Donald Trump, amid reports Trump may be arrested and charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office.

Over the weekend, Trump said he had learned Bragg’s office would bring charges against him. The charges could stem from a $130,000 payment Trump allegedly facilitated to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to stop her from going public with claims they had an affair. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley has said Bragg’s office may argue the payment should have been classified as a campaign expense but was wrongly classified as a business expense by the Trump organization, in violation of Section 175 of New York law, which can classify the falsification of business records as a Class E felony.

Trump predicted he could be formally charged by Tuesday, March 31. In an interview with Fox News on Monday, they said, “Right now, it’s rumor. And I certainly hope it’s not the case. I guess we will find out tomorrow.”

Braggs office has yet to announce any charges.

Haley, who served as Governor of South Carolina and then as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, said, “From everything I have seen from this New York district attorney is that this would be something he’d be doing for political points. And I think what we know is, when you get into political prosecutions like this, it’s more about revenge than it is about justice.”

The Manhattan DA’s Office’s investigation into the Stormy Daniels payment predates Bragg. In a November 2020 interview with CBS, then-DA candidate Bragg said the case against Trump could be “charge ready” by the time he takes office. In an interview with Business Insider during the 2021 Manhattan DA election cycle, Bragg noted he had experience suing the Trump organization and the Trump administration more than 100 times, including a case that led to the exclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census survey that the Trump administration sought to include.

Other 2024 GOP Hopefuls Back Trump

Haley was not the only 2024 Republican presidential candidate to defend Trump against a potential case brought by Bragg.

Vivek Ramaswamy, another candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, also denounced the possible charges against Trump on Twitter on Sunday.

“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” said Ramaswamy, a tech entrepreneur who launched his presidential campaign last month. “If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush & Cheney were in power, liberals would have cried foul—and rightly so.”

“This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself,” Ramaswamy added. “I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been considered a potential 2024 frontrunner but has not announced a campaign, called the possible charges by Bragg’s office a “manufactured circus.”

DeSantis further criticized Bragg for going after Trump while taking a comparatively relaxed approach to local crime.

“What I can speak to is you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in your jurisdictions, and you’re choosing to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments,” DeSantis said. That’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Bragg Hits Back At Republican Questioning

In addition to individual remarks by 2024 Republican candidates, House Republicans said Bragg’s potential case against Trump would represent an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.” The House Republicans also called on Bragg to testify before Congress.

Bragg’s office pushed back on Republican statements pre-emptively discredit the case against Trump.

“We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process,” a spokesperson for Bragg told news outlets in his office’s first public response since Trump raised the possibility of being arrested.

“In every prosecution, we follow the law without fear or favor to uncover the truth. Our skilled, honest, and dedicated lawyers remain hard at work,” the spokesperson added.