Florida politicians react to Donald Trump’s arraignment for role in porn star hush money payment

trump
The charges were slow coming. The opinions were not.

Former President Donald Trump is pleading not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to pay hush money to a porn star and another woman.

Those charges were slow in coming, stemming from alleged payments to two women — adult film actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Conversely, many reactions to Trump’s arraignment among Florida politicians came quickly.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, took to Twitter with a video recorded in his car. “Today is a bad day for all of us & we are all going to regret it for a very long time,” he wrote atop the tweet. He decried the charges, which he said brings America across “a line it’s never going to come back from.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis condemned the charges, which he argued came from a “weaponized” Department of Justice and District Attorney that are “more focused on pursuing vendettas and garnering national news attention” for the sake of “the most outrageous politically fueled witch hunt in American history.”

“(It) is a sad day for the American people,” he said in a statement. “I truly believe it will forever be remembered as a stain on our democracy. My colleagues and I in the House remain committed to rooting out the corruption and abuse of power that resides within our institutions as we work to regain the people’s trust in our constitutional republic.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz called Trump’s arraignment “one of the darkest days in our country’s history” in a fundraising email.

“The leader of our movement has turned himself over to the far-left, (George) Soros-funded, rogue prosecutor who pushed the United States of America closer to a third-world dystopia with this political persecution. And Friend, now the Soros-ification of our justice system is complete…” Gaetz said in a statement.

“Donald Trump is the one man who had the courage to stand up to the Regime — and now, THIS is how they’ve responded. It is nothing less than a Total Witch Hunt — gaslit by (President) Joe Biden when he had the gall to say that ‘extreme MAGA Republicans’ like you and me are dangerous to the Republic.”

Gaetz, who until the investigation was dropped in February was the subject of a sex-trafficking probe involving a minor, then doubled down on his support of Trump on Twitter.

Fellow GOP Congressman Carlos Giménez of Miami took aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the first prosecutor to charge Trump.

“Let’s be clear: Alvin Bragg is a socialist hack, woke pro-violent criminal prosecutor looking to make a name for himself by crafting a frivolous politically-motivated case against President Trump,” he wrote on Twitter.

In a separate post, he said “socialists can commit murder and get away with it” in New York City and called the case “a sham that we see far too-often (sic) in the brutal dictatorships from which so many in my community have fled from.”

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, also a Republican, called Bragg “a disgrace” in a quote-tweet of a video of Bragg delivering remarks after Trump’s not guilty plea.

“SAYS THE GUY WHO EMPTIES THE NYC PRISONS AND REFUSES TO PROSECUTE VIOLENT CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR,” Donalds wrote. “The American people see through this charade and gross abuse of the criminal justice system.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Mills bashed discussion of the court issuing a gag order against Trump that would prevent him from publicly discussing the case until the trial’s conclusion.

“Trying to get a gag order on the (former President) and the 2024 Presidential candidate, who they know will need to respond to questions defending his position from media and in debates shows clear political motivation,” he wrote.

Republican Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna said it should be clear to everyone, regardless of political affiliation, that Trump is being unduly targeted.

“I don’t care what political affiliation you are, if you can’t see by now why the machine hates this many so much you’re asleep,” she twitted shortly before 6 p.m., adding, “I am with you Mr. President.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz opted for levity. Retweeting a NEWSMAX post about actor Jon Voight’s support for the embattled former President, Moskowitz wrote of Voight, “Didn’t he die in Anaconda?”

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis left no doubt as to how he feels about the indictment.

“The next time the Left screams about all the norms being violated, remember this day. They use the courts and prosecutors like a political wing…” he said on Twitter Tuesday morning before Trump went to court.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, a Republican, told Florida Politics that while he’s withholding final judgment until all the evidence has been presented, the charge seems dubious and politically driven.

“Look, I agree with (former U.S. Attorney General) Bill Barr. I respect him as somebody who’s looked at what’s been put forward, or what he knows about what’s been put forward — and I want to be careful as a former prosecutor we also have to have the evidence — but it does look to me like an abomination,” he said.

“I’m sure if (the Biden administration) could have indicted Donald Trump, (it) would’ve done so a long time ago. And you have a situation — and we all have to be careful of this no matter where your party politics are — (where) you have to exercise prosecutorial discretion in a really, really careful way.”

Renner also raised the subject of former President Bill Clinton, who he said clearly “committed perjury” during sworn testimony over his sexual conduct before and after taking office.

“We were told then it was just about sex,” he said. “He was not prosecuted, I believe, though there was a legal basis to do so. It wasn’t the right thing to do because it would’ve torn the country apart.

“And at the end of the day, you do not have a rule of law if people put their partisan interests and, more specifically in this case, prosecuting a partisan adversary — you don’t have a rule of law anymore. We’re a third-world country, and I think Alvin Bragg has taken us in a dramatic step in that direction. So, I think it’s abhorrent and it’s wrong and the rule of law should not be weaponized for political purposes.”

Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart merely shared the news with a screenshot of her TV screen showing Trump in court looking irately at the camera.

Former Miami Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo sidestepped throwing salt in the GOP’s wound by instead highlighting the immigrant credentials of New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, who is ruling over Trump’s trial.

“Justice Merchan is a first-generation immigrant, born in Bogotá, Colombia,” she tweeted. “He came to the United States with his family when he was 6 years old, and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.”

___

Jacob Ogles and Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at Jess[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


7 comments

  • Pill Mill Bill McSewer

    April 4, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    The line that no one is coming back from..if anything…is electing such a man in the first place. Even Marco initially called him a con man… now shame on the courts and the justice system for doing their job after Trump proved Rubio’s theory correct? He lied 40,000 times, filed frivolous litigation to overturn a free and fair election, and incited a riot with lies. Republicans endorse this behavior? I find that hard to believe and many are just scoring political points with their base by not condemning the man. Meanwhile, all we hear about is Hunter Biden’s laptop so don’t tell me they didn’t intend to cross that line.

  • The only proper reaction is APPLAUSE & JOY

    April 4, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    Corruption rots a country from within. That’s why countries like Russia and these third world banana Republics are the way they are. Deep rooted corruption.

    It’s WONDERFUL to see that even a former President isn’t above the law, and that this country still takes corruption seriously.
    Every patriotic, freedom and apple pie loving, flag waving American should be overjoyed at this news.

    It should serve as a warning to other wanna be corrupt autocrats in this country.

  • Tom

    April 4, 2023 at 4:37 pm

    Slippery slope fallacy by Rubio in defense of the orange shlong. Don’t do the crime and you don’t have to worry about doing the time. That goes for anyone in office or who works for the government. Republicans want a get out of jail free card or a license to kill for anyone in office? This is the message. Not a lot of politicans should be shaking in their boots over this one as Marco suggests. Just don’t do shady stuff and you don’t have anything to worry about. That should be the message from Rubio.

  • jim gibbs

    April 4, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    Trump is guilty of so many crimes his whole life, and I am glad he has been charged for any crime here. This charge is about Trump covering up crimes that helped him get ELECTED.

    • Billy the Bamboozler McSewer

      April 4, 2023 at 7:28 pm

      Yep! Covered up crimes to get elected and his stupid supporters wanted the Hunter Biden laptop hoax to be broadcast during the 2020 election. Add to that, they don’t care if a Republican is a criminal but that’s important if it’s a Democrat.

  • Mr. Haney

    April 4, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Republicans are cowards, traitors and here in Florida; all frauds.

  • Christopher S Davis

    April 5, 2023 at 9:06 am

    Listen to these people. Today’s GOP are the real J6 prisoners, firmly locked up inside Trump’s widdle box.

Comments are closed.


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