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What lawmakers of both parties have to say about Trump facing criminal charges

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

For the first time in U.S. history, a former president is facing criminal charges. A New York grand jury voted last week to indict former President Donald Trump after hearing testimony and evidence related to hush money payments made to cover up an alleged affair. The twice-impeached former president, who is again seeking the Republican nomination, is scheduled to appear before a judge tomorrow. For more on what lawmakers of both parties have to say about this, I'm joined now by NPR congressional correspondent Barbara Sprunt. Barbara, this will be a historic week. What do we know so far about the charges Trump faces?

BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: Well, the question on everyone's mind is, what is in that official indictment? It remains under seal until Trump appears before the judge tomorrow. The exact arrangements for Trump aren't public yet. Typically, someone indicted would go through the regular booking process. So think fingerprinting, taking a mugshot. Obviously, it's a bit different with a former president who has a Secret Service detail.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what's the response been from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill?

SPRUNT: Well, frankly, I suspect there's some relief from Republican lawmakers that Congress is on recess this week and next, because no doubt there would be a lot of questions on their reactions as this whole thing unfolds. But House Republican leadership is squarely behind Trump. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has called the indictment an unprecedented abuse of power. Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has called it, quote, "outrageous" in a one-word statement that he put out. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia will actually be in Manhattan tomorrow for what she said will be a peaceful protest. Much of what we heard over the weekend from Republican lawmakers is skepticism at the strength of the case and concerns that it's politically motivated. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial in 2021, said this on Fox News Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

BILL CASSIDY: No one should be above the law. But no one should be a target of the law.

SPRUNT: And this is actually very similar to what West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said, as well. He appeared on three of the Sunday shows this weekend. Here he is on CNN's "State Of The Union."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STATE OF THE UNION")

JOE MANCHIN: It's a very sad time for America to go through what we're going through now and, you know, people being divided. And they think that justice might be biased. We have to make sure that we wait and see what comes out next week.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Thing is, though, one Republican has taken a different stance against Donald Trump, and that's former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race now that he's been indicted.

SPRUNT: That's right. Hutchinson made news of his own when he announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He told ABC's "This Week" he knows Trump won't drop out but thinks he should.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THIS WEEK")

ASA HUTCHINSON: I've always said that people don't have to step aside from public office if they're under investigation. But if it reaches the point of criminal charges that have to be answered, the office is always more important than a person.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Now, what about Donald Trump himself? What has he said?

SPRUNT: His spokesperson has said Trump will deliver remarks at Mar-a-Lago Tuesday evening. And anyone who's subscribed to Trump emails knows he's been very active in communicating with his base. He's called this a politically charged sham indictment. But so far, the indictment has been rather lucrative for him. Within minutes of it being handed down, Trump's team began fundraising off of it. And within two days, they raised over $5 million.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR congressional reporter Barbara Sprunt. Barbara, thanks.

SPRUNT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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