2024 hopeful and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday that he hopes former President Donald Trump does not get indicted.
Trump announced Tuesday that he had received a letter from special prosecutor Jack Smith on Sunday. Trump stated he is a “TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury Investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”
“Your chief competitor, the front-runner right now, Donald Trump says he was informed that he is the target of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and Mr. Trump has until Thursday to report to the grand jury. If Jack Smith has evidence of criminality, should Donald Trump be held accountable?” Tapper asked.
“Here is the problem. This country is going down the road of criminalizing political differences. And I think that’s wrong. Alvin Bragg stretched a statute in Manhattan to be able to try to target Donald Trump. Most people, even people on the left, acknowledge that if it wasn’t Trump, that case would not have likely been brought against a normal civilian,” DeSantis said, arguing if he wins the presidency he would make “big changes” in the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“I don’t think it serves us good to have a presidential election focused on what happened four years ago in January. So I want to focus on looking forward. I don’t want to look back. I do not want to see him – I hope he doesn’t get charged, I don’t think it’ll be good for the country, but, at the same time, I’ve got to focus on looking forward and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“Are you saying that if [Smith] finds evidence of criminality, he should not charge Donald Trump any way?” Tapper pressed. (RELATED: ‘Will Need A Lot More Than That Speech’: Jonathan Turley Lays Out Key Test That Will Make Or Break Trump Indictment)
“What I’m saying is when you’re going after somebody on the other side of the political spectrum, if you’re stretching statutes to try to criminalize maybe political disagreements, that is wrong. Now look, this is all speculation. But I think we’ve gone down the road in this country of trying to criminalize differences in politics rather than saying ‘ok you don’t like somebody, then defeat them in the election rather than trying to use the justice system.’ So we don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I can tell you, with the Bragg one, that was stretching criminal law. The evidence of criminality was very weak and even if that existed, other people would not have been charged under the circumstances. That’s the problem,” DeSantis added.
DeSantis spoke out about the situation while at a campaign event on Tuesday, saying Trump “should’ve come out more forcefully” on Jan. 6 but that criminalizing his alleged lack of doing so is a “different issue entirely.”