As news broke that former President Donald Trump was ordered to turn himself in on Tuesday to face charges related to his handling of secret documents and the raid on his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, DelVal reaction fell largely along party lines.
The 37-count indictment includes violations of the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified documents and also names Trump’s aide, Walt Nauta, as a co-defendant.
Special Counsel Jack Smith said, “The indictment was unsealed, charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws, as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. A grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida voted this indictment. And I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.”
Trump rejected the indictment as partisan politics.
“The corrupt Biden administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,” Trump said in a statement, “even though Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.”
“I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!” (Emphasis in original), he added.
Trump is already awaiting trial in New York on state charges related to handling business records. Most legal observers say that the case is weak at best, feeding the belief among Trump supporters that progressive District Attorney Alvin Bragg was politically motivated.
Many Trump supporters are outraged, while Democrats believe Trump deserves to be charged. Will this deter Trump’s supporters in the presidential campaign? Time will tell.
“While legally, this indictment seems more threatening to the former president, I’m not sure it poses any new political threats to him at this point,” said Christopher P. Borick, professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. “The indictment does force his Republican challengers to either offer a degree of support or simply stand on the sidelines for a while, essentially providing Trump a short-term advantage.
“For his base, the indictment will do nothing but enhance their support. If ultimately convicted, it will certainly weigh on a general election audience and hobble his chances if he was the GOP nominee,” Borick added.
Former Republican chairman for Area 3 in Montgomery County Kurt Stein said, “Yesterday was a dark day for our once great country. The indictment of a former president, a current presidential candidate, is a tipping point for our republic. The weaponization of the Department of Justice (DOJ) against a president who has the authority to declassify documents is setting a dangerous precedent. Biden and Pence had classified documents, and they were vice presidents with no authority and no charges. The media is complicit as they do not report on any of the many Biden scandals.
“I do not believe this will have a negative impact on Trump in the Republican primary, as it will bring more voters to Trump,” Stein added. “Competition in a primary is good for Trump, as it will show the public that Trump is the only candidate who can fight the corruption in Washington.”
Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club, said, “It is outrageous that a sitting president and his swamp cronies would weaponize federal law enforcement in a blatant attempt to take out a political opponent. The American people are fed up with the left’s penchant for using the strong arm of the government to target their political rivals, whether it be parents labeled as domestic terrorists, a pro-life street preacher yanked out of his home in front of his crying children, or the eternal witch hunt involving President Trump. The unprecedented action of Joe Biden and his swampy DOJ to indict President Trump will only serve to unify conservatives around President Trump in the primary.”
But Christian Nascimento, chair of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, had a different view.
“This certainly will not help Trump expand his base of support and may help to erode some of it,” said Nascimento. “Regardless, yet another legal issue for Trump will absolutely have an impact on the GOP primary. Trump’s most core supporters may not be moved away from him by this, but for the other candidates, all of whom are positioning themselves as superior to the former president in areas of competency, character, or values, this presents yet another data point in their efforts to move the GOP past the Trump era.”
Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democratic Committee, said, “It is a cornerstone of our justice system that no one is above the law, including a former president. It is also a cornerstone of our justice system that everyone, including former President Trump, is entitled to due process and the opportunity to mount a defense. We will await the outcome of a fair and transparent process, as we would in any other case, to determine any impact this may have on the 2024 presidential campaign.”
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) tweeted: “A second grand jury of ordinary Americans has indicted disgraced and twice-impeached former President Trump, this time on federal criminal charges. The Speaker calls the indictments unconscionable — what is unconscionable is the alleged criminal conduct.”
And Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) took a swipe at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a retweet: “Just a reminder that Mr. McCarthy spent more time writing this tweet to defend the disgraced former President than he spent leading the House this week. House Republicans were so disorganized that they ended the session week early because they couldn’t get anything done.”
McCarthy @SpeakerMcCarthy had previously tweeted, “Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”
The Trump campaign, which is fundraising off the indictment news, issued this statement: “This bogus indictment is not only election interference from the Biden Justice Department but an attempt to distract from the revelation that foreign nationals bribed Biden. It’s not coincidental that the indictment news came just hours after reports revealed that Joe Biden was paid $5 million in a ‘pay-to-play scheme.’”