Former President Donald J. Trump faces an increasing assortment of felony costs: There’s the indictment in New York Metropolis over hush funds to a pornographic actress, plus a federal indictment over his retention of categorized paperwork, plus one other federal indictment over his makes an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, which culminated in his supporters’ storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. There’s an investigation into election interference in Georgia, too.
Mr. Trump has forged each investigation as politically motivated and legally meritless — and, with few exceptions, the Republicans seeking to beat him subsequent 12 months have gone alongside.
Here’s what the opposite candidates have mentioned.
Like many of the Republican subject, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has framed the costs as merchandise of a corrupt justice system, whereas providing muted criticism of Mr. Trump’s actions.
“The weaponization of federal regulation enforcement represents a mortal risk to a free society,” he wrote on Twitter after the indictment within the paperwork case. A couple of weeks later, he steered in an interview with CNN that an indictment within the election case would present the nation “happening the street of criminalizing political variations” — and declared on social media that Washington was such a “swamp” that not solely Mr. Trump but in addition any prison defendant ought to have a proper to be tried some place else.
After the primary indictment, in New York, Mr. DeSantis sought to hyperlink the Manhattan district legal professional to the liberal financier George Soros in a means typically used as an antisemitic canine whistle: “Like different Soros-funded prosecutors, they weaponize their workplace to impose a political agenda on society on the expense of the rule of regulation and public security,” he mentioned.
He has allowed that Mr. Trump could have behaved inappropriately, whereas sustaining that he shouldn’t be prosecuted.
In a jab in March, he identified that he wouldn’t know something about paying off a porn star.
In June, he mentioned he “would have been court-martialed in a New York minute” if he had retained categorized paperwork within the Navy.
And in July, he mentioned Mr. Trump ought to have “come out extra forcefully” to cease his supporters from storming the Capitol.
Nikki Haley, the previous governor of South Carolina and former United Nations ambassador, has shifted from an unequivocal denunciation of the primary indictment in March to an argument in July that Mr. Trump’s authorized troubles have been creating an unacceptable distraction.
She referred to as the New York indictment a “political” prosecution. However after the paperwork indictment, she joined just a few different candidates in attempting to have it each methods: She said that if the allegations have been true, “President Trump was extremely reckless with our nationwide safety,” whereas concurrently saying the case mirrored “prosecutorial overreach, double requirements and vendetta politics.”
She additionally mentioned she “could be inclined” to pardon Mr. Trump.
By the point the information broke of a possible third indictment, Ms. Haley sounded exasperated. “The remainder of this main election goes to be in reference to Trump — it’s going to be about lawsuits, it’s going to be about authorized charges, it’s going to be about judges, and it’s simply going to proceed to be an additional and additional distraction,” she said on Fox News, including, “We will’t maintain coping with this drama.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence denounced the New York case, calling it “an outrage.” However he has been ambivalent on the paperwork indictment and the election case. Within the latter, Mr. Trump’s pressuring of Mr. Pence to cease Congress from certifying the 2020 outcomes is a serious element.
Mr. Pence initially mentioned the paperwork indictment could be “terribly divisive” and would ship “a horrible message to the broader world that appears at America as a regular of not solely democracy, however of justice.” He shifted after studying it, saying, “These are very critical allegations, and I can’t defend what’s alleged.” Nonetheless, he added, “It’s arduous for me to imagine that politics didn’t play some function on this resolution.”
Within the election case, whereas he has mentioned “historical past will maintain Donald Trump accountable” for Jan. 6, Mr. Pence has refused to say the courts ought to.
“I’m not satisfied that the president appearing on unhealthy recommendation of a bunch of crank legal professionals that got here into the White Home within the days earlier than Jan. 6 is definitely prison,” he mentioned. In a CNN interview, he added that whether or not costs have been acceptable trusted Mr. Trump’s intentions and “way of thinking,” which he mentioned he didn’t know.
After Mr. Trump was indicted within the election case on Aug. 1, he issued his harshest assertion but. “Right now’s indictment serves as an vital reminder: Anybody who places himself over the Structure ought to by no means be president of america,” he said.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina called the New York indictment a “travesty” and mentioned the district legal professional had “weaponized the regulation in opposition to political enemies.”
In contrast, he referred to as the paperwork indictment a “critical case with critical allegations.” However even then, he, like Ms. Haley, continued to denounce it for example of a biased justice system.
Not like Ms. Haley, he refused to say whether or not he would pardon Mr. Trump if elected.
Mr. Scott’s message was largely the identical relating to the election indictment, which he responded to by citing the case in opposition to Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, who was supplied a plea deal. “We’re watching Biden’s D.O.J. proceed to hunt Republicans whereas defending Democrats,” he mentioned.
With former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey constructing his marketing campaign round his willingness to criticize Mr. Trump, the indictments have been apparent fodder for him.
After beforehand condemning Mr. Trump’s actions in relation to the riot on Jan. 6, Mr. Christie continued assaults in that vein after the election indictment.
“The occasions across the White Home from election night time ahead are a stain on our nation’s historical past and a shame to the individuals who participated,” he wrote on social media. “This shame falls essentially the most on Donald Trump. He swore an oath to the Structure, violated his oath and introduced disgrace to his presidency.”
After costs have been filed within the paperwork case, he was additionally vital of Mr. Trump.
“It’s a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment, and the conduct in there’s terrible,” he mentioned at a CNN city corridor occasion. He was additionally vital of the candidates’ describing it as political, saying, “They’re enjoying video games.”
He was much less supportive of the New York indictment. Although he didn’t condemn it the way in which different Republicans did, he argued that its allegations weren’t very critical — “I don’t assume that is the crime of the century,” he mentioned — and that it may assist Mr. Trump politically.
Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has been one of many few vocal Trump critics within the Republican subject, alongside Mr. Christie and former Consultant Will Hurd.
He held his hearth after the New York indictment, saying the grand jury had “discovered credible info to assist the costs.” However he emphasised the presumption of innocence and added, “It’s important that the choice on America’s subsequent president be made on the poll field and never within the court docket system.”
After the paperwork indictment, nevertheless, he called on Mr. Trump to drop out of the race.
He repeated that decision when it regarded as if an indictment within the election case was imminent. “I’ve mentioned from the start that Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 ought to disqualify him from ever being president once more,” he said, including, “Anybody who actually loves this nation and is keen to place the nation over themselves would droop their marketing campaign for president of america instantly.”
The entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is Mr. Trump’s fiercest defender. He has repeatedly forged the indictments as examples of “the ruling get together” utilizing “police energy to arrest its political rivals,” and has urged different candidates to pledge to pardon Mr. Trump.
“I’d have made completely different and I imagine higher judgments for the nation,” he informed Fox Information. “However a foul judgment just isn’t the identical factor as a criminal offense, and once we conflate the 2, that units a harmful precedent.”
After information that Mr. Trump appeared more likely to be indicted over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Mr. Ramaswamy mentioned, “The left calls Jan. 6 a risk to ‘our democracy,’ however the final risk is when politically unaccountable actors actually take away democratically elected officers from workplace.” His premise was that an indictment could lead on to make use of of the 14th Modification to disqualify Mr. Trump from operating.
He has additionally argued with out proof that President Biden ordered Lawyer Normal Merrick B. Garland and the particular counsel, Jack Smith, to indict Mr. Trump within the paperwork case. “We should always know whose invisible hand is guiding these indictments, which is why I filed a Freedom of Data Act demand,” he mentioned in July. The subsequent month, he mentioned he would file the same demand over the election case.
Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota has largely prevented speaking in regards to the indictments.
In a CBS Information interview, he mentioned he would “observe each rule associated to dealing with categorized paperwork” if elected however didn’t focus on Mr. Trump’s actions when pressed. His marketing campaign didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the election case. In an interview on CNN, he referred to as it a “distraction” that voters didn’t care about.
His most unambiguous feedback got here after the paperwork indictment, when he informed ABC Information: “Persons are very involved a few double commonplace on this nation. They’re involved that if we have now misplaced belief in our establishments, if we don’t imagine that the D.O.J. goes to implement the legal guidelines equally between the 2 political events, that’s much more critical than the costs themselves.”
Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami expressed unease with the New York case, suggesting that indicting a former president was a “slippery slope” away from democratic norms.
“When you don’t like somebody’s insurance policies or in the event you don’t like somebody’s persona, that’s OK — train your proper to vote, use the democratic course of to precise it,” he informed The Miami Herald. “And I really assume that’s a means greater assertion about what this nation is and what this nation ought to be than going after someone prosecutorially.”
He has mentioned little in regards to the deserves of the federal instances. However he did recommend, in an interview with MSNBC, that he would take into account pardoning Mr. Trump. “Definitely if I grew to become president, one factor I’d have a look at as president is utilizing the pardon energy to heal the nation,” he mentioned.
Former Consultant Will Hurd of Texas has been extra scathingly vital of Mr. Trump’s conduct than every other candidate besides Mr. Christie.
“Shedding to Joe Biden was so humiliating to Donald Trump that he was keen to let folks die for his lies a few stolen election,” he mentioned after Mr. Trump introduced that he was a goal within the election case. He added that Mr. Trump’s inaction on Jan. 6, “and now being a goal within the investigation, proves he’s not match for workplace.”
When the indictment in that case arrived, he said it was clear that “Trump’s presidential bid is pushed by an try to remain out of jail and rip-off his supporters into footing his authorized payments.”
He was equally forceful on the paperwork case, calling the main points within the indictment “surprising” and telling CNN, “He completely may have put folks’s lives in danger for not returning these paperwork.”
Anjali Huynh contributed reporting.