Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis responded on Monday to reports that former President Donald Trump could be indicted this week, calling the situation a “manufactured circus” by a prosecutor “trying to virtue signal for his base.”
DeSantis’ remarks come after Trump claimed over the weekend that he was going to be “arrested on Tuesday” in connection with a prosecution by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office involving an alleged hush-money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. A spokesperson for Trump later said that Trump has been given “no notification” that there will be an arrest next week.
“I’ve seen rumors swirl. I have not seen any facts yet,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “And so I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know this, the Manhattan district attorney, is a Soros-funded prosecutor. And so he like other Soros funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety. He has downgraded over 50% of the felonies to misdemeanors, he says he doesn’t want to even have jail time for the vast, vast majority of crimes. And what we’ve seen in Manhattan is we’ve seen the crime rate go up, and we’ve seen citizens become less safe.”
DeSantis said Bragg was “weaponizing” the justice system by choosing to pursue the case from several years ago while “ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction.”
“And I think that that’s fundamentally wrong,” DeSantis said. “I also think it’s important to point out when you’re talking about these Soros funded prosecutors, yes, they may do a high profile politicized prosecution. And that’s bad.”
DeSantis said big-city prosecutors who benefited from Soros campaign donations have contributed to a rise in crime as they pursue political agendas instead of fighting crime which has led to ordinary Americans being hurt.
DeSantis, who has been increasingly under attack by Trump as he weighs entering the 2024 presidential race, took a swipe at Trump even as he condemned Bragg for prosecuting him.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” he said.
DeSantis said that he is the only governor in the country who has removed a Soros prosecutor from office, a reference to his suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit last August due to neglect of duty.
“We are not involved in this, won’t be involved in this,” DeSantis said. “I have no interest in getting involved in some type of manufactured circus by some Soros DA. He’s trying to do a political spectacle. He’s trying to virtue signal for his base.”
DeSantis’ comments followed a similar denunciation of Bragg by Mike Pence, another potential 2024 presidential candidate.
“I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former President of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, that — the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think is, just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country,” Pence told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issues a strong statement against the Soros-backed DA pursuing charges against Donald Trump in what is clearly a politically motivated attack. This is class.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 20, 2023
Trump’s claim that he was going to be arrested came after a report from NBC News said federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies were analyzing security assessments and making plans to prepare for the possibility that he could be indicted, but no exact date was given in the report.
The case involves an alleged payment that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen admits he made to Daniels during the presidential race to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 tryst between Trump and Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty to related charges and served time in prison.
Although non-disclosure agreements are legal, the potential problem for Trump centers around how his company reimbursed Cohen. The payment was listed as a legal expense and the company cited a retainer agreement with Cohen. The retainer agreement did not exist and the reimbursement was not related to any legal services from Cohen, thus setting up a potential misdemeanor criminal charge of falsifying business records. The report said that Trump personally signed several of the checks to Cohen while he was serving as president.
Prosecutors can elevate the misdemeanor to a felony if they can prove that Trump’s “‘intent to defraud’ included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime.”
Prosecutors argue that the second crime is that the alleged $130,000 hush payment was an improper donation to the Trump campaign because the money was used to stop a story for the purpose of benefiting his presidential campaign.