Some of former President Donald J. Trump’s competitors for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination have reacted to the indictment handed up by a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on the evening of Aug. 14. So far, the response has been relatively muted.
President Trump and 18 others—including his former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his former attorney Rudy Giuliani, and attorneys John Eastman and Sidney Powell—were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. RICO laws were originally designed to take down organized crime.
The case marks the fourth indictment of the former commander-in-chief as he continues to hold a decisive lead in the Republican field for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
In an appearance on Fox News, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he thinks the Georgia indictment of President Trump was “unnecessary” in light of the ongoing federal election interference case from special counsel Jack Smith.
He argued that the former chief executive’s actions shaded into the “problematic” with his efforts to seat an alternate slate of electors from Georgia, “and the pressure that was being put on folks” following three recounts of the 2020 presidential vote in the state.
Mr. Christie said there was “nothing” to President Trump’s claim that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s indictment was timed to coincide with his presidential campaign.
“If, in fact, the charges had happened three years ago, he would have said there was no investigation [and it was] a rush to judgment,” Mr. Christie said.
He also dismissed a comparison from Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who likened President Trump’s 2020 strategy to that of Al Gore when Mr. Gore challenged the 2000 election results in Florida.
“When Al Gore lost his legal challenges, he conceded the election,” Mr. Christie said. “Donald Trump has been much different.”
“Let’s take it aside for a second from the criminal. We can’t normalize this conduct. I mean, this has never happened before in this country, ever, where you had a candidate for president of the United States conduct himself in this way, to disrespect the election process in this way, to refuse to accept the verdict of the voters,” Mr. Christie continued.
Ramaswamy and Laffey Voice Concerns
Some of President Trump’s 2024 competitors voiced greater sympathy for the last Republican president.
Earlier in the day on Aug. 14, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy responded to the apparently premature release of criminal charges against President Trump prior to the grand jury’s vote, as first reported by Reuters.
The Epoch Times has not independently verified Reuters’ reporting on the history of that document. The news agency claims the document first appeared on Fulton County’s website before vanishing.
“It’s downright pathetic that Fulton County publicly posted the indictment on its website even before the grand jury had finished convening,” Mr. Ramaswamy wrote on X.
“Since the four prosecutions against Trump are using novel & untested legal theories, it’s fair game for him to do the same in defense: immediately file a motion to dismiss for a constitutional due process violation for publicly issuing an indictment before the grand jury had actually signed one,” he said.
“As someone who’s running for President against Trump, I’d volunteer to write the amicus brief to the court myself: prosecutors should not be deciding U.S. presidential elections, and if they’re so overzealous that they commit constitutional violations, then the cases should be thrown out & they should be held accountable.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Ramaswamy told The Epoch Times on Aug. 15 that he has nothing to say beyond that statement now that the formal indictment has been released.
“His thoughts are consistent with that [earlier statement],” Ramaswamy Senior Adviser Tricia McLaughlin said.
In a statement released late on the evening of Aug. 14, Steve Laffey, a presidential hopeful who once served as mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, said the events come as “another disturbing chapter in our nation’s history book.”
He said the former president is “facing charges usually reserved for mob bosses and drug cartels.”
“Presidential candidates should not face racketeering and conspiracy charges. A RICO charge must be met with the utmost seriousness,” Mr. Laffey continued, adding, “When will the rest of the Republican Party come to their senses?”
Hutchinson and Hurd Critical of Former President
In a statement released late on Aug. 14, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he had not yet “review[ed] the details of the indictment.”
Still, he condemned the former president in no uncertain terms.
“Over a year ago, I said that Donald Trump’s actions disqualified him from ever serving as President again. Those words are more true today than ever before,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
He said his own prosecutorial career had involved “racketeering charges in federal court against terrorist organizations.”
“I understand the difficulty of a multi-defendant indictment and how slow the case will proceed in state court,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman and CIA officer, was similarly critical of President Trump.
In a statement posted to X, he said the indictment “is further evidence that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election and was ready to do anything it took to cling to power.”
“Another day, another indictment, and another example of how the former president’s baggage will hand Joe Biden reelection if Trump is the Republican nominee,” Mr. Hurd said.
The Epoch Times has also sought comment from rivals Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, as well as Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
From The Epoch Times