Trump’s 2024 GOP rivals react cautiously to indictment, condemning New York prosecutor

The burgeoning field for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination responded to the indictment against former President Donald Trump by attacking the Liberal prosecutor in charge of the investigation, while refusing to address the question of whether the ex-president did anything had done wrong.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to make an offer later this year, said he would not cooperate with any extradition request from New York after a grand jury indicted Mr Trump over alleged hush money payments in 2016 to adult-film stars Stormy Daniels.

“Arming the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It’s un-American,” Mr. DeSantis tweeted before targeting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and liberal mega-spender George Soros. “The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade crimes and condone criminal misconduct. But now he’s expanding the law to target a political opponent.”

Mr. DeSantis is seen as the greatest threat to Mr. Trump, who leads in polls and has a firm grip on the Republican base, making his challengers and potential rivals reluctant to attack him directly.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has criticized Mr Trump’s conduct during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, called the indictment an “outrage” and singled out Mr Bragg, despite a grand jury supporting Mr Trump had voted.

“If you have an attorney general in New York, a district attorney in Manhattan, campaigning against a certain American, I think that goes against the notion of the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe in fairness, who believe in equality before the law,” Mr Pence, who has not said if he plans to run in 2024, told CNN late Thursday.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who launched her 2024 campaign earlier this year, reiterated her belief that the impeachment is “more about revenge than justice,” while Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a rising star in the GOP said courts were armed by the left.

“It is incredible that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted a former president and current presidential candidate on mere political enrichment. The artificial arrest of a presidential candidate should not happen in America,” he tweeted.

The prosecution will start a court case that will likely force Mr Trump to come to New York to face the charges. His first appearance in a New York courtroom could be on Tuesday.

The indictment was not released, and New York judges usually keep the indictment under wraps until the defendants first appear in court.

The indictment for allegedly paying hush money during his first presidential bid will undoubtedly influence his current election campaign. Mr. Trump said it will make him more popular.

“They only brought these bogus, corrupt and shameful charges against me because I stand with the American people and they know I can’t get a fair trial in New York!” Mr Trump said on Truth Social, his social media platform. “These corrupt Democratic prosecutors, all from poorly run and very dangerous Democrat-run cities, are not going to vote for the Republican nominee or the next President of the United States!”

Democratic leaders were measured in their reactions to the indictment late Thursday, saying no one is above the law and urging all sides to be peaceful.

President Biden told reporters he did not comment on the indictment as he left the White House for a trip to Mississippi early Friday.

“I have no comment on Trump,” Mr. Biden said.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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