Donald Trump has been criminally indicted every which way under the sun. He allegedly cheated in business filings, allegedly stole highly sensitive documents from the federal government, allegedly orchestrated a conspiracy to defraud U.S. voters and overturn the 2020 election, and allegedly headed a criminal enterprise to defraud Georgia voters and steal the election from them.
The indictments stem from federal, state, and local investigations, from democratically elected prosecutors and Justice Department-appointed special counsels.
They are at once sweeping in scope and laser-focused, documenting everything from extensive conspiracies to years-long patterns of illegal practices.
Yet Trump's Republican primary rivals are tiptoeing around Trump's fanciful buffet of alleged criminality like mice trying to steal cheese crumbs from a trap.
Stumping at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina declined to say whether he, personally, would have made a phone call to Georgia's secretary of state urging him to "find" enough votes to flip the state's electoral outcome.
Revisiting Trump's now-infamous call, NBC News' Ali Vitali posited, "Doesn't that feel anti-American, doesn't that feel like not what a president should do?"
"I'll just continue to say it as I see it," Scott started, as if he were about to actually call balls and strikes. "We see the legal system being weaponized against political opponents. That is un-American and unacceptable. At the end of the day, we need a better system than that."
Vitali followed with, "But that phone call, you've heard it right?"
"Yes, but we just draw different conclusions," Scott responded. "Next question."
Mayday! Mayday! I'm drowning in indictment questions about my political opponent over here—throw the life vest!
Seriously, how hard is it to say that you simply wouldn't have picked up the phone to make that call? Scott's answer smacks of a candidate absurdly focused on staying in the vice presidential hunt. If he has aspirations of rising above being anything but a vice presidential candidate, Scott will have to convince high-dollar donors he's serious about taking on Trump. That answer ain't going to cut it. For now, Scott remains firmly in the vice presidential lane.
But he'll have to compete with biotech millionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, who has a knack for entrepreneurial bootlicking. Following fresh indictment news, Ramaswamy offered to pen Trump's defense argument.
“As someone who’s running for President against Trump, I’d volunteer to write the amicus brief to the court myself," Ramaswamy tweeted Monday on X. He continued with, "prosecutors should not be deciding U.S. presidential elections, and if they’re so overzealous that they commit constitutional violations, then the cases should be thrown out & they should be held accountable."
Sure, jump to Trump's defense, throw in some hyperbolic lies, and voilà, you've got the quadri-indictee's attention. News flash: Voters decided the U.S. presidential election. Trump lost.
Perennially tragic candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was inching toward Trump's indictment abyss Wednesday on Fox News, prefacing his tepid criticism with a compliment.
“I give him credit, even though we’re competing, for the great things he did do," DeSantis said. "But one of the things he did not do was drain the swamp. I mean, the swamp got worse in his four years.”
Careful Ron, you might not get the vice presidential slot for which you were already disqualified for not being sufficiently loyal to.
The only actual criticism came from Republican candidates who quite literally have zero chance of winning.
“Another day, another indictment, and another example of how the former president’s baggage will hand Joe Biden reelection if Trump is the nominee,” said former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas. “This is further evidence that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election and was ready to do anything it took to cling to power. He will use this latest indictment as another opportunity to manipulate Americans into paying his legal bills.”
Pretty good, but way too reality-based for the Republican Party. Sorry, Will.
In spite of Trump's false claims that have continued for "more than two and a half years ... the Georgia election was not stolen, and I had no right to overturn the election on Jan. 6,” Pence said Wednesday while delivering a keynote speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Pence is finally finding his voice on Trump after being revealed as a key witness in the federal election conspiracy case against Trump. Perhaps he can use the time after his failed 2024 presidential bid to write a book about his belated evolution.
Did anything happen while we were all taking a well-deserved break? Something about Donald Trump being indicted not once, but two times! Also in the news: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign collapse. So much is happening!