Republican Leaders Criticize Trump’s Handling of Classified Information
Republican leaders, including presidential candidates Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson, as well as former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, expressed their criticism of former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified information on Sunday.
The comments were made during major political talk shows over the weekend, following Trump’s plea of not guilty in a Miami court on Tuesday for allegedly negligently handling top-secret documentation.
Trump was indicted on 37 counts after taking a large number of documents with him when he left the White House and attempting to prevent investigators from recovering them.
These remarks on Sunday sharply contrast with those of Republican lawmakers who either defended Trump or refrained from criticizing him.
“I cannot justify what Trump claims,” said Pence, who served as vice president under Trump, during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, referring to his former boss’s behavior regarding the documents.
Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, went even further by calling the allegations “serious and disqualifying.” He stated on ABC’s This Week, “I think I should drop out” of the 2024 election race.
Trump, who has accused the Justice Department of working against him, is accused of jeopardizing national security by unlawfully keeping top-secret military documents and nuclear weapons information at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida.
This case is one of many legal proceedings that the former president must face. “If the allegations are true… it could be quite damaging to the nation,” said Esper during an interview on CNN’s State of the Union. “No one is above the law,” he added.
Donald Trump: United States Attorney General Defends Investigator Amidst Harsh Attacks
Trump appeared in court in Miami last week, facing 37 criminal charges, including “unlawful withholding of information related to national security.”
Amidst ongoing investigations, Trump’s criticism towards the Department of Justice, which he accuses of being an “evil monster,” “corrupt,” and a mercenary of the “radical left,” has not gone unnoticed. In November, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as a special prosecutor in the investigations against Trump.
This Wednesday, Garland defended the work of Jack Smith, whom Trump has labeled a “ruffian.” The appointment took place amidst investigations into Trump’s alleged involvement in the Capitol assault in early 2021. Another case they are handling involves the alleged withholding of official documents.
“As I said when I appointed Mr. Smith, it underscores the Department of Justice’s commitment to independence and accountability,” Garland stated in a press conference. “Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law. Any questions regarding this matter will be addressed through his court filings,” he added.
During a speech to his supporters, Donald Trump referred to Democrat Joe Biden, one of his main adversaries in the presidential race, accusing him of attacking him and engaging in “electoral interference.” Prior to that, the former president heard the reading of the nearly 40 charges, including “false testimony,” “illegal withholding of information related to national security,” and “obstruction of justice.”
At the hearing, Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, stated that the Republican pleaded “not guilty.” On his social network, Truth Social, Trump described Tuesday as “one of the saddest days in the history of our country. We are a nation in decline.” He also launched a new criticism against Smith, calling him a “lunatic.”
*With information from AFP.