Republicans — including Trump's rivals — cry out after third indictment drops against ex-president

Donald Trump's Jan. 6 indictment has the GOP enraged

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 1, 2023 7:50PM (EDT)

Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's third indictment was so highly anticipated that the former president's campaign reportedly drafted its response days in advance. So it was little surprise to see Republicans rush to Trump's defense en masse after Tuesday's indictment for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack and effort to overturn the 2020 election. Even Trump's political rivals, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were quick to release statements decrying the criminal prosecution of an ex-president. 

Trump is charged with four criminal counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. 

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, whose raised fist was infamously memorialized in a photo in front of the U.S. Capitol ahead of the riot, claimed that the newest indictment is part of an "effort to stop Trump from running against Biden." 

Republicans in the House of Representatives were even more ferocious in their defense of Trump:

"No politically-motivated indictment is going to change my mind," declared Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

Republicans' cries aside, the indictment sheds light on previously unreported efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

"Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power," the indictment reads. "So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won."

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The charging document continues: "These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway — to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election." 

At least one Republican — and Trump presidential rival — was willing to criticize the former president. 

 "Today's indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States," Mike Pence, whose life was threatened by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, said in a statement. 

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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