After weeks of speculation, a Manhattan grand jury voted Thursday to indict former President Donald Trump on charges related to his alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. According to multiple media reports, Trump is expected to appear before Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump is the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge. He is also the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.
Trump called the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated, and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.”
What does the indictment mean for his campaign, particularly in the key First in the Nation primary here in New Hampshire?
State GOP chairman Chris Ager came down squarely against the indictment, calling it “an attack by Democrats on the rule of law and a disturbing weaponization of the Justice system against Biden’s enemies.
“Democrats are placing the importance of maintaining power over the freedom and well-being of the American public, opening the door to future abuse by the Justice system against political enemies.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel echoed that view. “When our justice system is weaponized as a political tool, it endangers all of us. This is a blatant abuse of power from a DA focused on political vengeance instead of keeping people safe.”
And last year’s GOP nominee in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District race, Karoline Leavitt, tweeted, “President Trump was always right. They’re going after him because he’s fighting for us.”
Setting aside concerns about partisan politics driving judicial decisions — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is a progressive representing one of the most Democratic communities in America — Republicans are asking what impact the indictment will have on the 2024 presidential primary.
It’s not going to force Trump from the field, Gov. Chris Sununu told Politico.
“He won’t drop out of the race. He’s just not.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, viewed as Trump’s most serious challenger, issued a statement calling the prosecution of Trump, in this case, “un-American.”
“The Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney has consistently bent the law to downgrade felonies and to excuse criminal misconduct. Yet, now he is stretching the law to target a political opponent,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.”
Others, including former U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), said Democrats are doing Trump a favor with the indictment. Trump’s indictment “would presumably serve President Biden’s interest very well because I do think Donald Trump is the most beatable Republican in the general election,” Toomey said in a recent interview.
Trump loyalist U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also sees the indictment as a boost to the Trump campaign, telling a conservative group, “The prosecutor in New York has done more to help Donald Trump get elected president than any single person in America today.”
On Thursday after the indictment dropped, Graham added: “So how does this end? Trump wins in court and he wins at the ballot box.”
Michael Caputo, former Trump administration assistant secretary of public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, mocked the district attorney’s decision. “We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop in Washington at the Department of Agriculture where they must be set to announce massive subsidies for the U.S. banana industry to assure truth in labeling: America is now officially a banana republic.”