Republican presidential hopefuls and lawmakers have responded to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s latest indictment of former President Donald Trump which charges him in connection with his efforts to dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Mr. Trump is indicted on conspiracies against the United States and the Congressional certification of the electoral vote on Jan. 6, 2021, as well as against Americans’ right to vote. The indictment also alleges Mr. Trump attempted to obstruct and obstructed that electoral vote certification.
One of the most outraged reactions came from biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has marketed himself as the exponent of a Trump-like “America First 2.0” platform.
“The corrupt federal police just won’t stop until they’ve achieved their mission: eliminate Trump. This is un-American & I commit to pardoning Trump for this indictment,” said Mr. Ramaswamy in a statement to The Epoch Times.
He reiterated his talking points on Jan. 6, saying the unrest that day was traceable to pervasive censorship of Americans in the weeks, months, and years preceding it.
“If we fail to admit the truth, Jan 6 will just be a preview of far worse to come & I don’t want to see us get there,” he said.
In a post on Twitter, now known as X, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, long perceived as Mr. Trump’s chief 2024 rival, stressed his opposition to “the weaponization of government” without fully condemning the latest charges faced by the former president.
“While I’ve seen reports, I have not read the indictment. I do, though, believe we need to enact reforms so that Americans have the right to remove cases from Washington, DC to their home districts,” he said.
“Washington, DC is a ‘swamp’ and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality,” he added.
Sen. Tim Scott, like Mr. DeSantis, didn’t pledge to pardon Trump.
“I remain concerned about the weaponization of Biden’s DOJ and its immense power used against political opponents,” he said.
“What we see today are two different tracks of justice. One for political opponents and another for the son of the current president. We’re watching Biden’s DOJ continue to hunt Republicans, while protecting Democrats.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to other 2024 contenders, including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
In a statement that the former president posted on his social media site, Truth Social, the Trump campaign dismissed the indictment as “nothing more than the latest corrupt chapter in the continued pathetic attempt by the Biden crime family and their weaponized Department of Justice to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.”
“These un-American witch hunts will fail and President Trump will be re-elected to the White House,” the campaign said.
A spokesperson for quality control expert and 2024 Republican hopeful Perry Johnson said Mr. Johnson “has made his position on the DOJ’s [Department of Justice’s] weaponization of the law clear by being the first candidate to publicly say he would pardon Trump back in March.”
“His stance remains that the DOJ, under Joe Biden, is a corrupt organization that needs massive overhauling, which he will do as president,” the spokesperson added.
GOP Lawmakers Threaten Defunding of Smith
Other top lawmakers in Congress also responded to the Aug. 1 indictment, which marks Mr. Smith’s second set of federal charges aimed at Mr. Trump.
The first charges, issued in June, concern the former commander-in-chief’s retention of classified documents from his presidency.
Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have generally maintained that the indictment is meant to distract from developments in the investigation of the Biden family’s business dealings and alleged influence peddling.
“Everyone in America could see what was going to come next: DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump. House Republicans will continue to uncover the truth about Biden Inc. and the two-tiered system of justice,” Mr. McCarthy wrote on Twitter.
“Today’s sham indictment of Donald Trump is yet another [desperate] attempt to distract attention away from the mounting evidence of Joe Biden’s direct involvement in his family’s illegal influence peddling scheme–one of the greatest political corruption scandals in history,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who chairs the House Republican Conference.
“President Trump had every right under the First Amendment to correctly raise concerns about election integrity in 2020,” she continued, adding that she predicts a Trump victory in the 2024 presidential race.
Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the first Trump impeachment trial, wrote on Twitter that the charges “will put our democracy to a new test: Can the rule of law be enforced against a former president and current candidate?”
“For the sake of our democracy, that answer must be yes,” he added.
Some Republicans called to defund Mr. Smith, part of a trend among some GOPers seeking to stymie the prosecutor.
“I will use the Holman Rule to defund Jack Smith’s special counsel, as these baseless investigations and persecutions must be put to an end,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on Twitter.
The Holman rule, which Republicans restored when they reclaimed the House this year, permits lawmakers to slash salaries for officers of the United States to $1.