Donald Trump is the first former president to be both federally indicted and indicted at all, and yet his rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are too scared to use that against him.
Republicans were livid at the Justice Department after Trump was indicted Thursday night for allegedly mishandling classified documents, and the other GOP presidential hopefuls were no exception. Almost all have accused the Biden administration of pushing a politically motivated investigation.
Senator Tim Scott also decried the “weaponization of the Department [of] Justice” against Trump, and said that the scales of justice are “weighted.”
Vivek Ramaswamy said there were “two standards of justice” and promised to pardon Trump if he is elected next year. He also said the United States is an “administrative police state” and pushed the GOP-backed falsehood that the January 6 rioters were “peaceful … protesters.”
Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the U.N. under Trump, also called out supposed “double standards” and “vendetta politics” in a bland tweet. “This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she said. “It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”
“But let me be very clear: No one is above the law,” he added.
Chris Christie, who is hinging his whole campaign on being the anti-Trump, also said that no one is above the law. But he seemed unwilling to go further, urging people to wait and “see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released.”
The only candidate to take a firm stand was Asa Hutchinson. The former Arkansas governor called on Trump to drop his presidential campaign.
“With the news that Donald Trump has been indicted for the second time, our country finds itself in a position that weakens our democracy,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Donald Trump’s actions—from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law—should not define our nation or the Republican Party.”
Doug Burgum has yet to comment on the indictment.
The candidates’ pussyfooting should come as no surprise: They have been loath to condemn him for anything, even when he was criminally indicted or found liable for sexual abuse. Rather than take a stand, they’re content to cower behind Trump and hope his fan base will transfer its rabid loyalty to one of them.
This post has been updated.