North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is best known for his success in the business world. He put up the seed money to start a billion-dollar software company in his home state and worked for years in upper management at Microsoft.
Asked if, based on what he knows about the former president, he would enter a business deal or put up seed money for Donald Trump, Burgum said, “The answer on that is no.”
But Burgum’s reason isn’t Trump’s character; it’s that Trump is too distracted by his legal troubles to be an effective leader.
“I voted for [Trump] in ’16, I voted for him in, in ’20,” Burgum said in the NHJournal podcast. “But generally, when someone’s building a business, they can be most successful when they can give 100 percent of their focus to their customers and their partners.
“And — whether it’s the politicization of the Department of Justice which causes concern for a lot of Americans — he’s got a lot of distractions right now.”
Asked if he believed, based on the photos of boxes stacked up in the bathroom at Mar-a-Lago and other evidence that has been released, Trump broke the law, Burgum again deflected.
“The great thing about America is people are innocent until proven guilty,” Burgum said. “And I think a lot of people right now are wondering whether or not the Justice Department is applying the law equally between President Trump and President Biden. And I think that’s a concern we’ll continue to hear from voters when we go across the country.”
Burgum, who is serving his second term as North Dakota governor, defeated the state’s long-serving attorney general, who had won the party’s endorsement, in the 2016 primary. One reason may have been Burgum’s vocal endorsement of Trump when many of North Dakota’s GOP leaders were less than enthusiastic.
“Voters are looking for a political outsider because the status quo isn’t working for many Americans,” Burgum said of Trump at the time.
Gov. Chris Sununu told CBS News he had breakfast with Burgum Sunday morning and “he’s going to be a great candidate.”
“He’s hitting the ground running with all the things that you need to do to be successful,” Sununu added. “I think Doug’s a great governor, and he’s going to be a spark to watch this fall.”
However, Sununu rejected Burgum’s stance on Trump’s current legal woes in that same interview.
“If half of what they say they can prove is provable, then [Trump’s] got a real problem on his hands. And it’s self-inflicted. Let’s remember that he had every chance in the world to hand all those files and documents back. He did just the opposite. He bragged about keeping them,” Sununu said. “So we’ll see where it goes and what’s disqualifying and not.”
Asked about the charges that the DOJ has been weaponized, Sununu was blunt.
“I don’t see this as being political. But … the average person may still think it’s political, and a lot of people clearly do. And so if you’re going to take unprecedented steps like this, as valid as they are, then they [the DOJ] have to acknowledge the responsibility of showing all sides of it, showing how it’s not political, not just saying, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not political.’ They’ve done that before, and it didn’t work out so well.
“So they have the responsibility of showing how it isn’t political, to give that confidence and that trust in the system,” Sununu said. “So when this goes forward, and if and when [Trump] is found guilty, there’s trust that it was done the right way.”
In his own interview on CBS Sunday, Burgum pledged, “We will follow every rule related to handling classified documents.”