House Republicans raged against former president Donald Trump’s fourth indictment in Georgia, saying that it was politically targeted. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who voted to object to the 2020 election results, said “Americans see through this desperate sham.”
Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, who replaced Rep Liz Cheney after Ms Cheney’s repeated critiques of Mr Trump, said Mr Trump “will defeat these bogus charges and win back the White House in 2024.”
But for the most part, Senate Republican leadership stayed silent amid the news of Mr Trump’s latest indictment. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Whip John Thune, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barasso and many other senior Republican leaders in the Senate remained mum.
Some of the Senate’s most ardent conservatives did speak out, including Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Tthe top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Fox News that Mr Trump’s fate “should be decided at the ballot box and not in a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail.”
Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX), who led efforts in the Senate to overturn the 2020 election results, told Sean Hannity on Monday evening that he was “pissed.”
But for the most part, Senate Republican leadership stayed quiet. When asked on Fox News about the indictment, Sen Joni Ernst (R-IA) brushed off the question of Mr Trump’s indictment.
“I honestly think that Iowans are becoming desensitised to this,” said Ms Ernst, who at one time was vetted to be Mr Trump’s running mate and won re-election in 2020 when Mr Trump won Iowa a second time. “I don't even know that they are paying attention to it. It’s the third indictment. It’s the fourth indictment.”
Ms Ernst parroted the oft-repeated line by Republicans that Mr Trump’s indictments show that the US justice system had two tiers.
“One if your name is Trump, and there is one if your name is Biden,” she said. “But again, it seems to be politically motivated so much that Iowans just throw up their hands anymore.”
Sen Steve Daines (R-MT), who endorsed Mr Trump earlier this year, slammed the indictment.
“The latest indictment of President Trump is brought by a rogue DA who is following in the footsteps of the rogue DOJ, further cementing the two systems of justice in America today,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Mr Daines leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is responsible for defending Republican incumbents and flipping Democratically-held Senate seats in swing states.
“The justice system should be—it must be—blind, not weaponized against political opponents.”
The contrasting approaches between House and Senate GOP leadership parallel how Republicans approached Mr Trump and his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
While 139 House Republicans, including members of House Republican leadership such as now-House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Mr McCarthy and Ms Stefanik voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, only eight Republican senators, led by Mr Cruz and Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO) voted to object to the election results.
Meanwhile, House Republicans condemned Ms Cheney and now-former Rep Adam Kinzinger for their participation in the January 6 select committee. No Republicans faced serious consequences from leadership for voting to impeach Mr Trump for inciting the January 6 riot.
Similarly, while Mr McCarthy previously said that Mr Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack despite not voting to impeach him, he has largely welcomed Mr Trump’s support.
Conversely, after the impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr McConnell condemned Mr Trump.
“There's no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” he said.
But Mr McConnell said so after he decided against voting to convict the former president.