The indictment of former President Trump by a Manhattan grand jury rocked Capitol Hill on Thursday, with Democrats hailing the decision and Republicans blasting what they described as a political witch hunt.
“The indictment of a former president is unprecedented. But so too is the unlawful conduct in which Trump has been engaged,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who served as lead impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment trial. “A nation of laws must hold the rich and powerful accountable, even when they hold high office. Especially when they do. To do otherwise is not democracy.”
Some Democrats, including House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), expressed their excitement on Twitter.
“SO Trump finally got indicted! I predicted he would and I predicted that Stormy Daniels would get him! Sometimes justice works!” Waters said.
Others stressed letting the legal process play out and that “no one is above the law.”
“There should be no outside political influence, intimidation or interference in the case,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.”
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted that “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.”
“We must allow the judicial process to continue unimpeded and free from any form of political interference or intimidation,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).
Republicans, meanwhile, jumped to criticize Bragg, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledging to “hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account” for “this injustice.”
“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election,” McCarthy tweeted. “As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chair of the House Judiciary Committee and an ally of Trump, summed up the Republican reaction in a one-word tweet: “Outrageous.” And Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — the chair of the Senate GOP campaign arm — called the indictment “a political prosecution.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chair of the Senate GOP Conference, called the indictment a “politically-motivated prosecution by a far-left activist.”
“If it was anyone other than President Trump, a case like this would never be brought. Instead of ordering political hit jobs, New York prosecutors should focus on getting violent criminals off the streets,” Barrasso said in a statement.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) similarly called the indictment a “sham” and accused Democrats of “weaponizing government to attack their political opponents.” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Republican Conference and the only member of House GOP leadership to endorse Trump, called the move “unprecedented election interference” and “a dark day for America,” adding that it would fuel support for Trump in 2024.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took a more aggressive approach, seeking revenge.
“Our side chants ‘lock her up’ and their side is going to get a mug shot based on a witch hunt. It’s time to change that. Gloves are off,” Greene tweeted.
The Manhattan grand jury voted on Thursday to indict Trump on criminal charges stemming from his role in organizing a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, a source familiar with the proceedings confirmed to The Hill. The specific charges, however, remain unknown.
The indictment marks the culmination of a winding investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), and the end of a days-long waiting game that began when Trump publicly predicted he would be indicted in the case last week.
A trio of House Republican committee chairs sent a letter to Bragg last week — after Trump’s social media announcement — demanding that he sit for a transcribed interview about his investigation. The lawmakers also asked that Bragg provide documents and communications regarding the probe.
Jordan — who also chairs the Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — expanded the congressional investigation into Bragg days later, requesting testimony from two prosecutors who resigned from the Manhattan case because of disagreements with Bragg.
“It’s Trump derangement,” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) said leaving his Capitol Hill office Thursday evening. “It’s an illness of hatred that just — it shouldn’t be in American politics. I don’t feel that way toward anybody.”
Wilson said House Republicans will move “immediately” to uncover the details of Bragg’s probe, and he has confidence that GOP investigators — notably Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), chairman of the Administration Committee who signed the letter to Bragg last week — will demonstrate that Bragg’s prosecution has been politically motivated from the start.
“We’re going to find out, from the inside, as to their correspondence and communications,” he said.
Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who served as an impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment, said Thursday was “a somber day for our nation.”
“Former President Trump’s indictment reminds us that no one is above the law and that we are all afforded due process and equal protection under the law,” he added on Twitter.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) tweeted that the New York indictment “is only the beginning of being held accountable for his crimes.”
“Trump attempted to illegally overturn election results in Georgia and worked to incite the insurrection at the Capitol, both in an effort to overthrow our government to advance his fascist cause,” Bowman said, calling for Trump to be banned from running for public office again.
Trump is also the subject of investigations by the Fulton County, Georgia district attorney’s office — which is looking into his efforts to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election — and the Justice Department, which is probing the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and the mishandling of classified documents.
Attorney General Merrick Garland in November appointed a social counsel to oversee the Justice Department investigations related to Trump.
At least one lawmaker took a softer approach to the news that Trump had been indicted on Thursday, noting that the Manhattan grand jury has not formally announced its decision to charge Trump in the matter.
“Just a reminder that there is no rule that you have to express your opinion before reading the indictment,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) wrote on Twitter.
Mike Lillis and Al Weaver contributed. Updated at 8:20 p.m.