Donald Trump has attacked his Republican rivals for their performances at the GOP presidential debate – branding Chris Christie “horrible”, Asa Hutchinson “a joke” and Ron DeSantis “a ‘BOMB’” in a string of late-night Truth Social rants.
While he refused to face his rival candidates in person and debate them on stage, Mr Trump was more than happy to hit out at them from behind the comfort of his keyboard.
In a series of Truth Social rants overnight on Wednesday, the former president singled out his biggest rivals for the Republican primary nomination while claiming his pre-recorded interview with Tucker Carlson to be a success with “over 100 Million” views.
Several of his posts took aim at former New Jersey governor Mr Christie – a man who was once a staunch ally and adviser to Mr Trump before becoming one of his most vocal critics.
“Chris Christie was horrible tonight. He was booed at a level never seen before at such a debate. He should have walked off the stage - Nobody wanted to hear from him! DJT,” he wrote.
“Why is Chris Christie wasting his time. Look at the crowds reaction to him!” he wrote in another.
Mr Trump clearly took issue with Mr Christie’s comments about him at the debate where he said that the Republican party has “got to stop normalising” Mr Trump’s allegedly criminal conduct.
His comments were met with boos from the Mr Trump supporters in the audience.
In another Truth Social post, Mr Trump fired back at Mike Pence after almost all of the GOP candidates reached a consensus that the former vice president did the right thing by refusing Mr Trump’s push to try to fraudulently certify the 2020 election in his favour.
“I never asked Mike Pence to put me above the Constitution. Who would say such a thing? A FAKE STORY!” he wrote in reaction.
On his closest rival in the polls Mr DeSantis – whose performance was largely underwhelming on the debate stage, Mr Trump wrote: “DeSanctimonious was a “BOMB” tonight, especially with his softball interview with Sean Hannity. This guy has totally forgotten his past. Who cares!?!?”
In another post, he wrote: “Ron DeSanctimonious is always talking about the number of votes he got in Florida. He doesn’t say that I got a record 1.1 Million more votes than him. He forgot!!!”
Meanwhile, on Asa Hutchinson, Mr Trump wrote: “Aida” was a joke tonight. He’s over!”
The one candidate that Mr Trump had positive words for was Vivek Ramaswamy, who had heaped praise on the former president during the debate.
“President Trump I believe was the best president of the 21st century,” the conspiracy theorist exclaimed on Wednesday night.
Mr Trump appeared to be happy with these comments, posting a clip of the moment on Truth Social and writing: “This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you Vivek!”
Mr Trump’s running commentary narrative about his rivals’ debate performances comes after he turned down the chance to make the comments to their faces as he refused to take part in the debate.
Instead he chose to air a rival – though pre-recorded – interview that he had given to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, claiming he didn’t need to attend the debate because he is already leading in the polls.
The rival events came just hours before Mr Trump is expected to surrender to authorities in Georgia to be arrested on charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state.
The former president announced that he will turn himself in at Fulton County Jail on Thursday where he is expected to have his mugshot taken – a historic moment marking the first time that a current or former president has ever appeared in a booking photo. Bond has been set for Mr Trump at $200,000.
Sources told The Guardian that he has arranged for his arrest to take place during primetime so that he can maximise on the nation’s attention.
Several of Mr Trump’s 18 codefendants in the case – including former Mr Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell – have already surrendered with their humiliating mugshots being released.
All 19 of the defendants were charged with violating Georgia’s RICO statute.
The indictment accuses Mr Trump and his allies of orchestrating and running a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere, to “accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office, beginning on January 20, 2021”.
“This criminal organization constituted an enterprise as that term is deï¬ned in O.C.G.A. § l6-14-3(3), that is, a group of individuals associated in fact. The Defendants and other members and associates of the enterprise had connections and relationships with one another and with the enterprise,” it reads.
The criminal organisation’s members and associates “engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating a public ofï¬cer, forgery, ï¬ling false documents, inï¬uencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury”.
The other co-defendants are former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, attorneys John Eastman, Kenneth Cheseboro, Jenna Ellis, Ray Smith III, and Robert Cheeley, former US Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, former Trump campaign official Michael Roman, former state senator and the former chair of the Georgia Republican Party David Schafer, Georgia state senator Shawn Still, Lutheran pastor Stephen Lee, mixed martial artist Harrison Floyd, Kanye West’s former PR Trevian Kutti, former head of the Republican Party in Coffee County Cathleen Latham, Atlanta-area bail bondsman Scott Hall, and former election supervisor of Coffee County Misty Hampton.
DA Willis has spent more than two years investigating efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election result in the crucial swing state.
The investigation came following the release of a 2 January 2021 phone call Mr Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he told him to “find” enough votes to change the outcome of the election in the state.
“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr Trump is heard saying in the leaked phone call. “Because we won the state.”
Mr Biden won the state by less than 12,000 votes.
The investigation then expanded from that phone call to include a scheme whereby a group of fake Republican electors planned to falsely certify the results in Mr Trump’s favour instead of Mr Biden’s. The plot failed and the fake electors have since reached immunity deals with DA Willis’ office.
Ms Willis said she would like to try the defendants altogether and within the next six months.
In total, the former president is now facing 91 charges from four separate criminal cases.
On 1 August, he was hit with a federal indictment charging him with four counts over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the events leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot, following an investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith’s office.
This came after Mr Smith’s office charged Mr Trump in a separate indictment over his alleged mishandling of classified documents on leaving office.
Back in April, Mr Trump was charged for the first time with New York state charges following an investigation into hush money payments made prior to the 2016 election.