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People gather outside President Donald Trump's arraignment at Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse in Miami, Florida on June 13, 2023. // Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg / Sipa USA via AP Images

VOICES: Partisanship largely holds firm following Trump’s arraignment

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By Carmen Gentile


In these tumultuous times, one thing remains wholly predictable: partisanship regarding all matters Trump runs deep. 

So, as expected, lawmakers’ reactions to Trump’s indictment and subsequent arraignment in a Miami federal court played out in predictable ways.

Vocal Republicans were incensed by Trump’s arraignment on a 37-count indictment accusing him of mishandling classified documents and other supposed crimes, continuing to call it a “political witch hunt” and wondering aloud why Hillary Clinton hadn’t faced the same charges (Hillary-related “whataboutisms” from Republicans are also as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise). 

Starting at the top of the party, the likely 2024 GOP presidential nominee condemned the day’s events. “I did everything right and they indicted me!” said an unchastened Trump (no surprises there either) during his $2 million fundraiser at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club just hours after his arraignment in Miami. 

While many Democrats kept their opinions to themselves, others spoke out before and after the arraignment, which was relatively subdued considering Trump’s repeated calls for supporters to converge on the courthouse, a likely indicator of the efficacy of the Justice Department’s successive pursuit of the Jan. 6 Capitol coup participants. 

“It is very sad and unfortunate that Republican presidential candidates, Republican members of the House of Representatives, Republican members of the Senate, have leaned into the lawless and disorder that has become the modern-day Republican Party, many of whom sympathize with the violent insurrectionists …” House Minority leader and New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told MSNBC a day before Trump’s arraignment

Another outspoken New York Democratic weighed in after Trump’s appearance in Miami. Rep.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned Republicans for calling Trump a victim of a two-tiered system of justice, a complaint she noted is often leveled by Americans of color and other minorities that her GOP colleagues largely ignore or refute. 

So how did some PI lawmakers react to Trump’s legal woes? Their insights ranged from near  silence on the issue to stepped up fealty to their disgraced former leader. 

When asked for his reaction to Trump’s arraignment, Senate Minority Leader and Kentuckian Mitch McConnell played it close to the vest, as he often does, instead pivoting to talk about the GOP Primary. 

“I simply … am not gonna start commenting on the various candidates … There are a lot of ’em, it’s gonna be interesting to watch, and I look forward to seeing your coverage,” McConnell told an NBC News reporter who asked for his take on the day’s historic events. 

West Virginia lawmakers, perhaps most predictably, reacted along party lines. The Mountain State has proven to be one of Trump’s most loyal fanbases, with nearly 7 in 10 West Virginians voting for him in 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. 

“I think this has been unfortunate. This has been a double standard. Think about all the information that has come out over the years, on Hunter Biden on Hillary Clinton, and all these people, and nothing happens. Crickets,” said the state’s Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Ohio Republican Sen. JD Vance said he would put the brakes on the confirmation of Department of Justice nominees in response to Trump’s prosecution, making no effort to conceal his zeal for revenge without acknowledging Trump’s self-inflicted wounds: hiding boxes of documents that weren’t his to have in the first place. 

“I’ve announced today that I will be holding all Department of Justice nominees that Merrick Garland will use, if confirmed, not to enforce the law impartially, which is his duty, but clearly to harass his political opponents,” Vance said via Twitter. “I think that we have to grind this department to a halt until Merrick Garland promises to do his job and stop going after his political opponents.”

Meanwhile, a GOP lawmaker from Alabama took his devotion to Trump farther than most following the former president’s arraignment. 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville skipped a key Senate vote in order to attend Trump’s New Jersey fundraiser, a decision that even prompted criticism from his fellow Republicans for easily handing a key vote to Democrats

That Tuberville would rather scrape and bow to Trump than do his legislative duties seems par for the course for the former football coach who had trouble naming the three branches of government shortly after his 2020 election. 

Will anything change Trump supporters’ minds, even when more damning evidence comes to light and new indictments are handed down? Trump’s next legal woes will likely be in Georgia on charges of alleged election interference. 

Ummmm … I’m gonna go out on the securest of  limbs here and predict:  

“Nope.”

Carmen Gentile

Postindustrial founder Carmen Gentile has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. He also is a board member of Industry’s Humanitarian Support Alliance. Reach him at carmen@postindustrial.com.

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