GREENSBORO, North Carolina — Despite an indictment packed with detail about Donald Trump’s alleged schemes to keep top-secret files in defiance of a grand jury subpoena, Trump’s chief GOP rival, Ron DeSantis , did not once mention the 37-count document that could send the former president to jail during a Friday night speech to Republicans in North Carolina.
The Governor of Florida barely hinted at the matter and introduced the subject by returning to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s former private email server, which ended up hosting classified documents.
“Well, as a naval officer, if I had taken classified ads on my phone, I would have been court-martialed in a minute in New York,” he said. “And yet they seem not to care. Is there a different standard for a Democratic secretary of state than a former Republican president? I think there has to be a standard of justice in this country.
DeSantis, who has been happy to attack Trump over his handling of COVID, his failure to build a wall along the US southern border and other burning issues for the Republican primary voter base, seems unwilling to mention an issue that could make Trump ineligible in a general election.
After Trump was indicted in March in New York for falsifying business documents to hide a $130,000 gain from a porn star, DeSantis initially pointed out that he had no expertise in the business of silent payments. But after receiving criticism for not joining in the sweeping Republican condemnation of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis went online and announced he would refuse to put Trump on trial if given. had asked him.
“Florida will not assist with an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” DeSantis wrote: in a Twitter post.
On Thursday night, two hours and 32 minutes after Trump announced on his personal social media platform that he had been indicted, DeSantis joined the chorus of pro-Trump voices complaining about unequal justice.
“Why be so zealous about prosecuting Trump and yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter? The DeSantis administration will hold the DOJ accountable, remove political bias, and end militarization once and for all,” the Governor of Florida wrote.
Republican presidential candidate Governor Ron DeSantis delivers remarks on June 9, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
DeSantis was the guest speaker at Friday’s “Old North State Dinner” at the North Carolina Republicans’ annual convention. Former Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon and Trump is scheduled to speak Saturday evening.
Taking no questions from the approximately 900 people who filled the main ballroom at the Greensboro Sheraton, DeSantis instead spent his 45 minutes on stage going through his now familiar stump speech. He bragged about his “victories” in Florida, including a six-week abortion ban, a ban on “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs at state universities, and his “war on revival.” “more general.
His only standing ovation came when he bragged about his attack on the Walt Disney Co. for criticizing him and his parental rights in the education bill. “There will be no compromise,” he said.
The closest DeSantis has come to criticizing Trump, who leads him by double digits in the polls, was hinting at the poor election results the party has suffered since the former developer and game show host won the White House in 2016.
Republicans lost the House in 2018, both the White House and the Senate in 2020, and, despite expectations of a “red wave”, they barely won back the House while losing another Senate seat in 2022.
“We have a task ahead of us to shake off the culture of defeat that has infected the Republican Party for the past several years,” he said. “We need to stop wasting winnable elections.”
Trump faces two more criminal investigations in addition to the two he is already charged with: a second DOJ investigation into his January 6, 2021 coup attempt; and an investigation by the state of Georgia for its attempt to nullify the election there.
He nonetheless seeks the presidency again and leads most of the 2024 GOP field polls.