After Trump indictment, what are Kentucky Republicans saying?

Published 8:43 am Monday, July 10, 2023

Tuesday, former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal charges in a Southern District of Florida U.S. District courtroom after being arraigned and arrested in Miami.

He faces charges for illegally keeping, mishandling and sharing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence after his presidency ended.

One of the top Republicans in the country, and the most senior member of the Kentucky delegation – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – has remained silent on the matter.

By choosing to neither defend Trump nor publicly denounce him, McConnell has left national Republicans to make their own judgments under slightly less political pressure.

Rep. Thomas Massie chose to defend Trump publicly on June 9 on his official Twitter account.

“A sitting president arresting his political opponent is the ultimate weaponization of government,” he Tweeted. “Joe Biden’s administration has shamefully crossed into waters charted only by banana republics.”

Republican governor nominee Daniel Cameron offered a similar defense, telling reporters that the indictment revealed more about the Justice Department’s political bias than Trump’s wrongdoings.

“Kentuckians continue to be concerned about the political weaponization of government power,” he said.

“Somehow, Donald Trump appears to always be treated differently than the Democrats. Joe Biden has mishandled classified information and so did Hillary Clinton. Where are those indictments? It appears there are two systems of justice: one for Republicans and one for Democrats.”

Gov. Andy Beshear, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said that he trusts the legal process in his weekly briefing on Thursday, June 15.

“Let’s also remember that everyone in the criminal justice process is innocent until proven guilty,” Beshear said. “We created this system so that we can get the truth and I trust the criminal justice system to eventually educate all of us on what happened, what is true and to take any steps that should or should not be taken.”

In March, as the indictment loomed near, Sen. Rand Paul also took to Twitter.

“A Trump indictment would be a disgusting abuse of power. The DA should be put in jail,” he said.

Paul has not made a public statement since Trump’s arrest. His office did not respond to a request for an updated statement in time for publication.

Rep. Andy Barr called the indictment “politically motivated” in a June 9 Tweet.

“It is imperative that we focus on the pressing issues facing our nation rather than engaging in divisive actions that further polarize our society,” he said.

So far, the rest of Kentucky’s Republican congressional delegation has avoided publicly commenting since the grand jury’s charges were released. Their offices have also not yet responded to requests for comment.

Kentucky’s sole Democrat congressional representative, Rep. Morgan McGarvey, said in a statement that no one is above the law, even a former president.

“For our system to work, the rich and powerful must be held accountable, just like anyone else who is credibly accused of doing something illegal,” he said.

After pleading not guilty to the charges, Trump now faces an upcoming trial in Florida. He told Politico that he would not be dropping out of the 2024 presidential race.