The historic announcement Thursday that a New York grand jury returned an indictment against former President Donald Trump prompted strong reactions from the political world.
The grand jury voted to charge Trump after investigating a $130,000 hush money payment his former attorney, Michael Cohen, made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election — after she claimed she had an affair with Trump, which he denied.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made the decision to convene the grand jury. His office confirmed late Thursday that it had contacted Trump’s legal team to co-ordinate his surrender, according to The Associated Press. The exact charges remain under seal. Yet they are historic because Trump is the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges. In a statement Thursday, Trump denied wrongdoing and called the indictment a “political persecution.”
Reaction to the indictment was swift, with many comments falling along party lines.
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Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters, a longtime Trump foe, applauded the grand jury’s decision.
“So Trump finally got indicted! I predicted he would and I predicted that Stormy Daniels would get him! Sometimes justice works!” Waters tweeted.
In an interview with Los Angeles all-news radio station KNX on Thursday, Waters said Trump “earned” the indictment.
“I’ve been looking forward to the indictment,” she said. “An action has taken place that is the first of its kind, and Mr. Trump earned it.”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter: “Donald Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law.”
On the other side of the aisle, Republican leaders defended Trump.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy specifically criticized the Manhattan district attorney.
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election,” McCarthy tweeted. “As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is considering running for the White House in 2024 against Trump, called the indictment an “outrage” during an interview with CNN.
“I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” Pence said. “It appears to millions of Americans to be nothing more than a political prosecution that’s driven by a prosecutor who literally ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also expected to launch a presidential bid, tweeted: “The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head. It is un-American.”
A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed this week showed Trump ahead of DeSantis — with the former President receiving support from 44 percent of Republicans, compared to 30 percent for DeSantis.
Maxine Waters Cheers Trump Indictment: ‘Mr. Trump Earned It’
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