Aug 1 (Reuters) – Two of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s top rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination criticized the Justice Department on Tuesday for indicting him on charges of conspiring to overturn his 2020 election loss.
But Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, a potential witness in the case and a Republican presidential candidate, called the charges a reminder that “anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States.”
A U.S. District Court grand jury in Washington, D.C. issued a 45-page indictment of Trump on Tuesday, charging him with conspiring to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
“As President, I will end the weaponization of government, replace the FBI Director, and ensure a single standard of justice for all Americans,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has consistently polled second to Trump in the race for the Republican nomination, said on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter.
DeSantis, in a written statement, conceded that he had not read the indictment but suggested that a jury in the nation’s capital could not be fair to Trump.
“Washington, DC is a ‘swamp’ and it is unfair to have to stand trial before a jury that is reflective of the swamp mentality,” he said.
Entrepreneur and fellow candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has gained ground in recent polls but remains well behind Trump and DeSantis, called the indictment “un-American” and said that if elected he would pardon Trump.
“Donald Trump isn’t the cause of what happened on Jan 6. The real cause was systematic & pervasive censorship of citizens in the year leading up to it. If you tell people they can’t speak, that’s when they scream,” Ramaswamy said on X.
Trump’s rivals for the 2024 nomination have largely argued that he should not be charged over accusations he sought to undermine the election.
Trump’s most loyal supporters comprise about a third of the Republican electorate, giving other candidates reason to be cautious about criticizing him.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman
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