Hutchinson calls Manhattan probe ‘a distraction,’ says Trump should end 2024 bid if indicted
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) this week warned that former President Trump’s legal troubles could become a “distraction” for the 2024 contender, especially if indicted.
“It’s out of respect for the institution of the presidency of the United States,” Hutchinson said in an interview with USA Today, adding that Trump should think about pulling his bid if the Manhattan district attorney moves forward with charges.
“That’s a distraction that is difficult to run for the highest office in the land under those circumstances,” he argued.
In the interview with USA Today, Hutchinson said Trump should not have run again amid the myriad of investigations he is involved in.
“I know he’s going to say that they’re politically motivated and all of those things, but the fact is, there’s just a lot of turmoil out there with the number of investigations going on,” he explained.
Hutchinson was mainly referring to the Manhattan district attorney’s probe into potential hush-money payments made on behalf of Trump to now-retired porn star Stormy Daniels, who has accused the president of having an affair with her prior to his 2016 campaign.
Trump has vehemently denied the affair with Daniels and has rejected multiple allegations related to the scheme. Many legal experts have since suggested that this could lead to charges of falsifying business records against the former president.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong, I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Prosecutors in Manhattan have signaled that they could be close to indicting the former president, after offering Trump the chance to make his case before the grand jury next week. Offers to testify often come shortly before charging decisions are made, though defendants seldom avail themselves of the option.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who would have made the payments to Daniels, has agreed to testify in the case, among others.
When asked last week during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in suburban Washington, D.C. if he planned to stay in the race, even if he were to get indicted, Trump said “absolutely.”
“Oh, absolutely, I won’t even think about leaving,” he told reporters.
But that isn’t the only legal trouble the former president is facing. The Department of Justice has appointed a special counsel to oversee Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot on the Capitol — seen as an effort to remain in power after the 2020 election — and to investigate the mishandling of classified government documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last summer.
“When you’re looking at Trump. It’s going to be a circus,” Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor who has been floated as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, told USA Today.
“It doesn’t mean that he’s guilty of it or he should be charged, but it’s just such a distraction that would be unnecessary for somebody who’s seeking the highest office in the land,” he reiterated.
Hutchinson claimed earlier this month that Trump’s message for 2024 only appeals to an “angry mob.”
“First of all, if you want to heal our land, unite our country together, you don’t do it by appealing to the angry mob. And that’s true whether you’re talking about an angry mob from the left or the right,” he said on Feb. 5 while on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And so that’s problematic.”
While the former governor has not made a decision on 2024 just yet, he said last week that “April is decision time.”
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.