Former President Donald Trump was indicted Monday night for the fourth time this year.
Although the first two indictments didn't involve elections, the latest two have: The third centered on Trump's involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection to stop the 2020 Electoral College count from being certified, and the most recent focused on his interference in Georgia's 2020 presidential election.
But even with all the chatter about election wrongdoing, Trump is still polling as a clear front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential primary, which has its first debate scheduled for next week.
While it's still unclear whether Trump will take part in the debate, his competitors are gearing up, and for some, part of that prep includes commenting on their rival's current misfortune.
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the candidate currently polling second place to Trump, denounced the indictment on a press call with reporters. He said the indictment wasn't good for the country and called it an example of the "criminalization of politics."
Vivek Ramaswamy, polling third for Republican candidates, had similar things to say about the precedent the indictment sets for the U.S. He told Fox News the act of an indictment during an election sets an "awful precedent" for the country.
Ramaswamy also told the network he'd pardon the former president of federal crimes if he were elected, while also posting how Trump should defend himself in the case.
"As someone who's running for President against Trump, I'd volunteer to write the amicus brief to the court myself: prosecutors should not be deciding U.S. presidential elections, and if they're so overzealous that they commit constitutional violations, then the cases should be thrown out & they should be held accountable," he wrote in a post on X.
Trump's former right-hand man, who's polling fourth in the Republican race, was quiet following the most recent indictment. After the third indictment though, Pence, who had testified in front of a grand jury in the third case, said in a statement, "anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States."
Nikki Haley, who's next up in the polls, was also silent following the fourth indictment. Previously though, she's also said she would be "inclined" to pardon Trump if he were to be convicted. But she also said during a radio interview that "if the claims in the indictment are true, Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security, and that's not okay."
Other candidates who did make comments on the fourth indictment took different approaches in their comments, with some using the opportunity to call for Trump to quit his campaign altogether.
Though he called the former president's conduct "disturbing," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the case was basically overkill, as Trump had already been federally indicted on election interference charges.
"I think the double charging here of Donald Trump is just something that complicates things in a way that makes the administration of justice much more difficult in the near term," he told CNN Tuesday. "I'm a little bit concerned that this had more to do with ego than anything else."
And former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson used the moment to again call for Trump to drop out of the Republican race. On X, he said the former president's actions disqualified him from ever holding the nation's highest office again.
Read my statement on the fourth indictment of #DonaldTrump.
Donald Trump has disqualified himself from ever holding our nation’s highest office again.
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) August 15, 2023
Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement the "former president's baggage will hand Joe Biden reelection if Trump is the Republican nominee."
"This is further evidence that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election and was ready to do anything it took to cling to power," Hurd said in a statement. "He will use this latest indictment as another opportunity to manipulate Americans into paying his legal bills."
Sen. Tim Scott told reporters the legal system is being weaponized against political opponents, which he said was "un-American and unacceptable."
Other candidates include Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Suarez has yet to comment on an indictment, and Burgum has refused to answer any questions on the matter.
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