TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Over the weekend, Republicans vying for the GOP presidential nomination solidified their positions on the historic federal indictment of a former president. That included Donald Trump himself who condemned federal prosecutors with familiar rhetoric.
Trump labeled the indictment "ridiculous" while calling special counsel Jack Smith "deranged" in a personal attack.
"I watched him yesterday go up and talk," Trump said while speaking Saturday in Georgia. "He talked for about two and a half minutes. He was shaking he was so scared. He didn't want to be there because ultimately these are cowards."
Gov. Ron DeSantis was among the Republicans who seemed to run to Trump's aid. During a stump speech Friday evening in North Carolina, Florida's chief executive drew a parallel to the Hillary Clinton email scandal— though the former secretary of state's emails were not deliberately withheld from investigators, and there wasn't evidence of obstruction.
"Is there a different standard for a Democrat secretary of state versus a Republican president?" DeSantis asked. "I think there needs to be one standard of justice in this country. Let's enforce it on everybody and make sure we all know the rules."
Meanwhile, longshot candidate Vivek Ramaswamy vowed to pardon Trump if he's convicted. Ramaswamy alleged the indictment was politically motivated during a Sunday segment on CNN.
"Reading that indictment and looking at the selective omissions of both fact and law, then I'm even more convinced that a pardon is the right answer here," Ramaswamy said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who's called on Trump to drop out, couldn't disagree more with Ramaswamy's comments.
"It is simply wrong for a candidate to use the pardon power of ... the president in order to curry votes and in order to get an applause line," Hutchinson said, also speaking to CNN.
Others like Chris Christie weren't buying Trump's victim claims. The former New Jersey governor called the case facts "devastating" for the former president.
"People are going to be arguing about who should and who should not have been indicted and who should be tried," Christie said Sunday. "Well, let me say this, the bigger issue for our country is — is this the type of conduct that we want from someone who wants to be president of the United States?"
Ultimately that question will be left to the voters as the 2024 GOP primary moves into uncharted waters, and the frontrunner's Tuesday arraignment counts down to zero.
For now, the White House has remained mostly quiet as of Monday afternoon. Officials said they found out about the indictment the same way as everyone else, through news coverage.
"I'm not going to speak directly to the case," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a Monday questions and answers session with reporters. "What I can say, and you've heard us say this over and over again, this is a president that respects the rule of law."
Federal authorities weren't expected to comment on the case once it gets underway on Tuesday. Special Counsel Jack Smith did make a brief statement last week. He encouraged Americans to read the indictment.
"Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced," Smith said. "Violations of those laws put our country at risk."