Republican 2024 hopefuls had a historic opportunity Thursday to do something perfectly reasonable when asked to respond to the news that their twice-impeached GOP rival, who's the subject of multiple criminal probes, had been in indicted in one of those cases.
They could have expressed regret about the indictment but withheld judgment on it until seeing the specifics.
Something along the lines of, "I deeply regret that we have reached this point as a country, and I have serious doubts about an indictment out of Manhattan, so I'll be curious to see the specifics of what warranted such an action."
Related Story: Prepare for Trump's 2024 GOP rivals to defend him against indictment. The base demands it
Just about every voter across the nation can relate to the notion of regretting where our country is, and having serious doubts about a Manhattan D.A. is a nod to the right and Trump supporters. But then the candidate could have subtly turned everybody's attention to the coming indictment after casting doubt on it.
Is that so hard?
Instead, the GOP’s 2024 lemmings followed Trump right off the cliff.
Appearing on Fox, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley suggested Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg was trying to score "political points" with the indictment.
"When you get into political prosecutions like this, it's more about revenge than it is about justice," she said, adding that the country would be better off without having "to deal with some revenge by some political people in New York."
Perhaps, we should be grateful that Haley didn't put out the antisemitic trash of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called the indictment "un-American," and disparaged Bragg as a "Soros-backed" D.A.
"The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head," DeSantis claimed, charging that Bragg was "stretching the law to target a political opponent."
DeSantis then added that Florida wouldn't assist in any extradition request due to the "questionable circumstances" at issue with "this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor"—a second reference in case all the white nationalists missed his first antisemitic swipe.
Very tough-guy posturing by DeSantis, giving Bragg the middle finger on extradition when Trump's lawyers already said he would surrender next week.
Former Vice President Mike Pence expressed anger over the fact that Trump was indicted for breaking the law.
“I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage,” Pence said Thursday night on CNN. “This will only further serve to divide our country.”
Let's remember that Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, was sentenced to three years, at least in part, for violating campaign finance law in a federal case prosecuted by the Justice Department helmed by Bill Barr, Trump's attorney general.
Cohen served more than a year before being released on home confinement. But Cohen was briefly jailed again by the Bureau of Prisons, which reported to Barr, for publishing a book about Trump while on probation. Cohen was released several weeks later after a federal judge ruled his re-imprisonment was retaliatory.
Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who is seeking the nomination, called Trump's indictment "wrong" and "dangerous.”
“This is about principles over politics,” Ramaswamy told The Washington Post. “If the tables were turned, I would say the same thing in the other direction. No Republican should do this to a Democrat. No Democrat should do this to a Republican.”
In other words, everyone should be equally free to break the law with impunity. That makes sense.
Naturally, the only potential 2024 Republican candidate who said something reasonable is also a serious long shot who may not even throw his hat in the ring. Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, who's also a former U.S. attorney, pointed out that a "grand jury found credible facts to support the charges.”
“We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day,” Hutchinson said in a statement.
What an outrage—someone suggesting that Trump should subjected to the rule of law like the rest of us.
There's a reason Hutchinson hasn't announced and in all likelihood won't.
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