Republicans join Trump’s attacks on justice system after guilty verdict in New York

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress have embraced Donald Trump’s strategy of blaming the U.S. judicial system after his historic guilty verdict, and are enlisting themselves heavily in his campaign for retaliation and political revenge as the GOP seeks to reclaim the White House.

He watches: A day after he was found guilty of a crime, Trump remains defiant and called the trial a “scam.”

Almost no Republican official stood up to suggest that Trump should not be the party’s presidential nominee in November’s election — in fact, some sought to hasten his nomination. Few others dared to defend the legitimacy of the New York state court that heard the silent money case or the twelve jurors who returned their unanimous verdict.

And those Republicans who expressed doubts about Trump’s innocence or political viability, including his hawkish former national security adviser John Bolton or top Senate candidate Larry Hogan of Maryland, were immediately bullied by the former president’s enforcers and told to “leave the party.”

Republican Representative from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, said she would vote for Trump “whether he is a free man or a prisoner in the Biden regime.”

It also posted the upside-down American flag that has come to symbolize the “Stop the Steal” movement that Trump started with his allies before the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

The rapid, aggressive and deepening commitment to Trump, despite his felony conviction, shows how Republican leaders and lawmakers have been completely inundated with his baseless grievances of the “rigged” system and the dangerous conspiracies of the “weaponized” government, and are using them in their own attacks on the president. Joe Biden and the Democrats.

He watches: Biden reacts to Trump’s guilty verdict, says it’s “dangerous” for Trump to call trial rigged

Rather than avoiding Trump’s increasingly authoritarian language or ensuring checks and balances for a second Trump term, Republican senators and representatives are upending long-standing trust in American governance and setting the stage for what they plan to do if Trump regains power.

On Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called on prosecutors Alvin Bragg and Matthew Colangelo to appear at a June hearing on the “weaponization of the federal government” and the “unprecedented political prosecution” of Trump — despite the fact Biden, as president, has no authority over state courts in New York.

“What we are preparing for is that if Trump wins, he will use the apparatus of the state to target his political opponents,” said Jason Stanley, a professor at Yale University and author of How Fascism Works.

Stanley said history is full of examples of people not believing the rhetoric of dictators. He said: “Believe what they say.” “He is literally telling you that he will use the state apparatus to target his political opponents.”

At Trump Tower on Friday, the former president returned to the attacks he repeatedly launched in his campaign speeches, portraying Biden as “corrupt” and the United States as a “fascist” state.

Trump called members of the bipartisan House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “thugs” and said Biden was a “Manchurian candidate,” a phrase inspired by a 1960s film depicting a puppet of a political enemy of the United States.

The Trump campaign memo included talking points for Republican lawmakers, suggesting they are calling the case a “sham,” a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” “election interference” and a “lawfare” engineered by Biden, whom it called “crooked.”

Biden faces no such charges, and House GOP efforts to impeach the president over his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings have largely stalled. Hunter Biden is scheduled to appear in court next week on a separate firearms charge in Wilmington, Delaware.

“It’s reckless, dangerous and irresponsible for anyone to say this is rigged just because they don’t like the ruling,” Joe Biden said on Friday.

When asked later at the White House if this could happen to him, Biden said: “Absolutely not. I did nothing wrong. The system still works.”

As for Trump’s claims that the issue is being orchestrated by the Democratic president to hurt him politically, Biden said sarcastically: “I didn’t know I was that powerful.”

In the silent money case, Trump was convicted of trying to influence the 2016 election by rigging money to a porn actress to bury the story of her affair. He faces three more criminal indictments, including the federal case related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. But they are unlikely to be heard before an expected November rematch with Biden.

Read more: Trump Impeachments of 2024: Where do you stand and what to expect?

Thursday’s ruling came after a jury in 2023 found Trump liable for sexual assault against advice columnist E. Jean Carroll and a judge in a 2024 business fraud case determined that Trump lied about his wealth for years and ordered him to pay a staggering $355 million. In penalties.

For almost one person, Republicans in Congress who have spoken out have provided a unique voice for Trump.

Spokesman Mike Johnson on “Fox & Friends” amplified the claim, without evidence, that Democrats are trying to hurt Trump. Johnson, a Republican from Los Angeles, said he believes the Supreme Court should “step in” to resolve the case.

“The judges on the court, I know a lot of them personally, and I think they’re very concerned about this as we are,” Johnson said.

The outgoing Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said he expected Trump to win the hush money case on appeal, but the three senators seeking to replace McConnell as leader echoed Trump with stronger criticisms of the judicial system.

South Dakota Senator John Thune said the case was “politically motivated.” Texas Senator John Cornyn called the ruling a “disgrace.” Senator Rick Scott of Florida said that anyone who calls himself a party leader “must stand up and condemn” what he called “unlawful election interference.”

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican known as a bipartisan leader, said the prosecutor “brought these charges specifically because of the identity of the defendant and not because of any specific criminal conduct.”

With a ruling in the hush money case expected in July before the Republican National Convention, Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said the GOP should speed up the convention to accelerate Trump’s nomination as the party’s presidential nominee.

Republican Judiciary Attorney Mike Davis, a former senior Senate aide who has been mentioned for a future position in the Trump administration, distributed a letter outlining next steps.

“Dear Republicans,” he said in a post on Friday. If their response to the guilty verdict was “We must respect the process” or “We are too principled to retaliate,” he suggested they do two things: one was obscene, the other: “Leave the party.”

Republican Senator Mike Lee, of Utah, distributed his own letter in which he noted that it was the White House that had “flouted” the rule of law and changed policy in “un-American” ways. He and other senators threatened to filibuster the Senate until Republicans took action.

“Those who have turned our justice system into a political cudgel must be held accountable,” Lee said.

Associated Press writers Michelle L. Price, Ali Swenson and Chris Megarian contributed to this story.

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