The 2024 GOP presidential primaries are dominated by the fallout from the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to undermine the election he lost. Federal prosecutors are considering charging Trump in connection with the insurrection, but some top GOP candidates are adamant that he should not face charges, according to HuffPost.
Leading the race is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who recently criticized Trump for not reacting more “forcefully” when his supporters breached the Capitol. However, DeSantis believes this doesn’t amount to a criminal act and hopes Trump won’t be charged, as he deems it detrimental to the nation. Despite defying advisors and his own daughter by not instructing his followers to leave the Capitol, DeSantis remains supportive of the former president.
Former Vice President Mike Pence on July 25, echoed DeSantis’s sentiment, holding Trump responsible for jeopardizing the safety of Pence and his family during the attack. While acknowledging Trump’s reckless words, Pence is unsure if they constitute criminal behavior based on the information available to him.
Trump had criticized Pence previously for not taking further action to overturn the 2020 election results, with some of his supporters even resorting to threats of violence.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, reaffirmed her backing for Trump’s potential nomination in 2024. Haley views Trump’s legal troubles as a “distraction,” believing they could harm his chances in a general election campaign. Like other Republicans, she opposes the idea of the Department of Justice pressing charges against him.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who experienced the January 6 incident firsthand at the Capitol, stated that he would only hold accountable those who directly threatened his life, and he doesn’t believe Trump was among them.
On the other hand, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stand out as the only candidates who strongly criticize Trump’s actions on January 6, labeling his behavior dishonorable.
However, their poll numbers remain low, placing them at the bottom of the field. Christie has been outspoken in condemning Trump and other candidates, including DeSantis and Scott, for not denouncing the former president’s actions more forcefully.
Both Christie and Hutchinson emphasize the gravity of the January 6 attack, arguing that Trump bears responsibility for the harm caused to American democracy, the rule of law, and the brave Capitol Police officers who defended the Capitol that day.
Despite their criticisms, their positions appear to be at odds with the prevailing sentiment among most GOP candidates who are reluctant to see Trump charged with any wrongdoing.