In the most important political talk shows on Sunday, Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, harshly criticized his ex-boss, but Republican presidential candidates such as Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie also criticized Trump’s behavior.
The comments came in sharp contrast to comments from many Republican congressmen who had defended Trump or dismissed criticism of him.
37 counts against Trump
Trump pleaded not guilty to all 37 counts of charges at a first court hearing on Tuesday. The leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination is accused, among other things, of illegally keeping secret files in his private residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. He is also accused of conspiring to obstruct justice, hiding documents and allegedly making false statements.
Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson called the allegations “serious and disqualifying” on ABC. In his view, Trump should “get out of the Republican presidential race,” Hutchinson said on the talk show This Week.
If the allegation that the files contain information about the country’s security is true, it could be “quite damaging to the nation,” ex-Secretary of Defense Esper told CNN, calling the revelations “disturbing.” “No one is above the law,” he said on State of the Union.
Contenders for the Republican presidential nomination find themselves in the difficult position of having to articulate what distinguishes them from the promising Trump – without alienating his loyal and powerful supporters.
Former Vice President opposed to Trump
Trump’s former US Vice President Mike Pence said on the NBC talk show “Meet the Press”: “I cannot defend what he is accused of.” However, he did not want to make a judgment before Trump had not had the opportunity to present his case to present to court. “I don’t know why some of my competitors in the Republican primary are assuming the president will be found guilty,” he continued.
Trump allegedly took the relevant documents with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his term in January 2021. The ex-president has denied the allegations and described the indictment as an attempt by the government of his successor Joe Biden to sideline him politically.
After the court hearing, the right-wing populist spoke on Tuesday evening of the “most malicious and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country”. Many Republicans have endorsed the ex-president’s allegations.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who entered the Republican presidential race in early June, criticized Trump for “constantly whining and complaining and nagging about how unfair everything is.” Christie, a former US attorney, also accused Trump of scolding former subordinates when they upset or disappointed him. “He’s a stubborn kid when someone disagrees with him,” Christie said.
Nikki Haley, ex-US ambassador to the UN and also a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, sharply criticized her ex-boss last Monday. “If these charges are true, President Trump has been incredibly reckless with our national security,” Haley told Fox News.