- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2023

A potential indictment of former President Donald Trump is turning into a loyalty test for other Republicans, with MAGA-world pressuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others to protest actions by New York prosecutors as the presidential contest takes shape.

Some Republicans in the potential 2024 field, including Vice President Mike Pence and business entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — a declared candidate — pushed back on news of Mr. Trump’s impending arrest as a seemingly political prosecution.

Others, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, were silent, while Mr. DeSantis this weekend defended his work in helping Florida recover from Hurricane Ian.

Mr. Trump’s orbit was furious, equating the lack of an outcry as disloyalty to the former president and his large base.

“Pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing,” tweeted Mr. Trump‘s son, Donald Trump Jr.

The Trump War Room tweeted Sunday it had been “over 24 hours and some people are still quiet,” while Trump senior adviser Jason Miller decried “radio silence” from Mr. DeSantis and Mrs. Haley.

SEE ALSO: House Republicans demand documents from Manhattan DA targeting Trump

Mr. Trump’s allies seemed to apply special pressure on Mr. DeSantis.

The reason is obvious: Mr. DeSantis is consistently viewed as the chief rival to Mr. Trump in a 2024 presidential primary, according to polling. The governor could also play a potential role in any attempt to extradite Mr. Trump from Mar-a-Lago in Florida to Manhattan, where prosecutors are presenting evidence to a grand jury about hush payments the ex-president’s campaign is alleged to have made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Mr. DeSantis has not officially announced his bid, but he is widely believed to be planning a run. He has avoided direct confrontation with Mr. Trump, but has relied on allusions to his solid reelection numbers in November compared to Mr. Trump’s poor record in picking midterm candidates.

Mr. DeSantis has also highlighted the lack of drama within his administration and his ability to deliver results.

“When Hurricane Ian hit, we worked around the clock to restore the Pine Island Bridge and Sanibel Causeway so residents could return home. In record time, these bridges were restored,” Mr. DeSantis tweeted Saturday while the political world was discussing news of a potential Trump indictment. “We deliver results for Floridians.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill, notably House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, decried the potential prosecution of Mr. Trump while warning against raucous protests.

SEE ALSO: DeSantis dings Trump on porn hush money charge, pledges to stay out of potential extradition

Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican, issued a statement calling the investigation “just a continuation of the disgraceful and unconstitutional pattern going back to the illegal Russian collusion hoax to attempt to silence and suppress the will of the voters who support President Trump and the America First Movement.” 

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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