Top-tier Republican presidential candidates were largely silent Tuesday in the hours after a Georgia prosecutor announced a criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump, the fourth set of criminal charges brought against him since March.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley were all silent on the matter. Representatives of their campaigns told Yahoo News that they did not anticipate statements to be issued anytime soon.
Read more from Yahoo News: A look at the 19 people charged in the Georgia indictment connected to Trump election scheme, via the Associated Press
Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, did not issue any statements but was asked about the indictment at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday and repeated what he has said before, that he believes “the legal system” is “being weaponized against political opponents.”
Responses from this group of candidates to the previous three indictments have been mixed. Pence has been the most aggressively critical of Trump, while the other three have at times acknowledged the seriousness of special counsel Jack Smith’s indictments while also claiming that there is a partisan unfairness to the justice system.
Chris Christie knocks Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis
Several lower-tier candidates were the only ones to have commented on the fourth and latest indictment as of Tuesday morning.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been a fierce critic of Trump, was dismissive of the Fulton County indictment announced Monday night.
“I think it was unnecessary,” Christie, a former federal prosecutor, said on Fox News. He argued that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis should have stood aside after the special counsel’s office brought charges in two cases, one on Trump’s handling of classified documents and another on Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
“She’s been investigating this thing for two, two and a half years. Jack Smith comes in within the last year. He swoops in. He charges quickly. She says, ‘Whoa, wait a second. I’ve been looking at this,’” Christie theorized. “I’m sure what this indicates is that there’s not cooperation between her office and the special counsel’s office.”
“I’m sure he wanted her to defer. She chose not to,” Christie said. “This is probably an ego decision where she said, ‘Well, hell, I put all this time and effort into this investigation and I want something out of it.’”
Will Hurd, Vivek Ramaswamy weigh in
Other long-shot Republican hopefuls gave more predictable responses. Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd said that the latest indictment is “another example of how the former president’s baggage will hand Joe Biden reelection if Trump is the Republican nominee.”
Meanwhile, hedge fund and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy called the charges “politicized persecutions through prosecution.”
Read more from Yahoo News: Who is Fani Willis?