Republicans are never good at condemning Donald Trump, and it was no exception following the verdict in his sexual assault trial.
A New York jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her when she accused him of assault decades later. They recommended Carroll be awarded a total of $5 million in damages.
And Republicans’ reactions to the verdict have been weak at the very best.
Representative Mike Burgess, Tom Cole, and Thomas Massie all claimed ignorance. Burgess said he hadn’t seen the verdict yet, Cole said he didn’t “know anything about it,” and Massie said he had “been in a car” and so hadn’t seen the outcome.
Representative Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, said he thought that all of the current lawsuits against the former president were “ridiculous.” But he also claimed to be unaware of the verdict. Since taking over the House Judiciary Committee, Jordan has proven far more obsessed with Hunter Biden’s laptop and attacking the people investigating Trump than the actual things Trump is accused of.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, another Trump loyalist, also said he hadn’t heard the verdict yet. “I’ve been in this meeting,” he said, referring to a meeting with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders on the U.S. debt limit.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Kennedy had no comment on the verdict. Senator Mike Rounds managed a kind of rebuke by not even half-heartedly saying he probably wouldn’t support Trump in the 2024 presidential race.
Only former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is also running for president, has had the guts to call Trump out thus far. “Over the course of my over 25 years of experience in the courtroom, I have seen firsthand how a cavalier and arrogant contempt for the rule of law can backfire,” he said in a statement. “The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump.”