DeSantis takes aim at Manhattan DA, claims law has been ‘weaponized’ to indict Trump
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) went after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Saturday following the indictment against former President Trump, claiming that the law has been “weaponized” to go after Trump.
DeSantis spoke as the keynote speaker at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, a conservative event held near the state capital of Harrisburg. He alleged that Bragg was being hypocritical in pushing for the indictment against Trump over the hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels while pursuing lighter charges against other offenders in certain cases.
He claimed that Bragg’s “whole platform” when he was running to be district attorney in 2021 was to “downgrade as many felonies as possible” to become misdemeanors, and “keep as many people out of jail, even habitual criminals, as possible” and “go light on all these things as part of ‘criminal justice reform.’”
“So now he turns around, purely for political purposes, and indicts a former president on misdemeanor offenses that they’re straining to convert into felonies,” DeSantis claimed. “That is when you know that the law has been weaponized for political purposes.”
The indictment for Trump is sealed and potentially will remain sealed until the former president is arraigned next week, making the exact charges Trump is facing and their severity unclear.
DeSantis is one member of a chorus of Republican allies that have backed Trump and slammed Bragg and the investigation as politically motivated since the grand jury approved the indictment on Thursday.
DeSantis’s attacks on Bragg’s policies refer to his proposals to focus more on rehabilitation and alternatives to harsher sentences instead of punishment.
Bragg outlined his plans for his office in a memo a few days after taking office in January 2022. The plans include investing more in alternatives to incarceration for people like youth offenders to prevent re-offending and “diminish collective harms” and limit youth offenders standing trial in adult courts.
Other proposals include providing support for those who are reentering society after committing crimes and focusing more on ensuring offenders are held accountable for their crimes instead of just giving them longer sentences.
The case against the former president is focused on the $130,000 that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid to Daniels for her to remain quiet about an affair that she alleges she had with Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to several charges including a campaign finance violation related to the payment in 2018.
Cohen has said Trump directed him to make the payment and reimbursed him for it. Trump has acknowledged reimbursing him but denied that the money was related to campaign funding or having an affair with Daniels.
DeSantis said after the news of Trump’s indictment broke that he would not agree to extradite Trump from Florida, where he lives, to New York. Trump is expected to willingly turn himself in on Tuesday.
The Florida governor tweeted at the time that Bragg is “stretching the law” to target Trump.
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