After Trump Conviction, GOP Lawmakers Attack U.S. Justice System

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders blasted Donald Trump’s guilty verdict on Thursday — and casually trashed the entire U.S. justice system.

“This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement, falsely suggesting that President Joe Biden orchestrated the case.

“The weaponization of our justice system has been a hallmark of the Biden Administration,” Johnson said, “and the decision today is further evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents.”

“Absolute injustice,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is vying to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, said in a statement. “This erodes our justice system. Hear me clearly: You cannot silence the American people. You cannot stop us from voting for change.”

Their comments were typical for GOP lawmakers in the aftermath of Trump’s verdict. It’s the latest sign that top Republicans are ditching their “law and order” brand in their efforts to suck up to Trump amid his post-presidential legal woes. Johnson, Scott and other GOP lawmakers have spent the last few weeks flocking to Trump’s trial in New York City to appear on television with him, and to attack the judge, the court and the rule of law itself.

It’s also a continuation of the hole-digging Trump has forced Republicans to do to excuse his continuous flouting of norms and laws — a project that has accelerated considerably in the years since Trump lost the 2020 election.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) as he stands behind Trump speaking outside of his criminal trial.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) as he stands behind Trump speaking outside of his criminal trial. via Associated Press

After Trump incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol as part of his schemes to illegally remain in power, Republicans have increasingly downplayed the attack. In 2023, after they retook the House of Representatives, Republicans launched a “Weaponization of Government” committee to put all depredations against the Trump movement in one giant category, with the criminal cases against Trump himself always front-and-center.

On Friday, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), demanded Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who led Trump’s prosecution, testify about the case in June.

“This hearing will examine actions by state and local prosecutors to engage politically motivated prosecutions of federal officials, in particular the recent political prosecution of President Donald Trump by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office,” Jordan said in a letter to Bragg.

Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide election-year hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who said she had sex with Trump in 2006. Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that he sent money on the former president’s behalf and disguised it as payments for other services.

For all their fuming, Republicans aren’t denying the allegations against Trump. Instead, they are blaming Biden, calling the case a “selective prosecution,” whining that Cohen is a liar (while not disputing his actual testimony), complaining that the charges should have been misdemeanors rather than felonies or saying that the judge was corrupt because his daughter earns a living in Democratic politics.

“We need to understand what are the connections between big Democratic money and this sham prosecution,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said on Fox News, baselessly planting the idea that Democratic donor George Soros told Bragg to go after Trump.

Trump still faces additional state and federal charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as well as a federal case targeting his hoarding of classified government documents after he left the White House. For Republicans, those cases are just more evidence of the Democratic conspiracy against Trump, and it’s not possible that Trump could have committed a criminal offense.

In the Republican version of the universe, in which the Justice Department only exists to persecute Trump, there is no ongoing criminal prosecution against the president’s son, Hunter Biden. Meanwhile, the public corruption cases against two Democratic members of Congress, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), are effectively window dressing.

New York is a liberal shit hole.Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.)

If Trump retakes the White House this November, his allies have been plotting how to transform the Justice Department into an attack dog for right-wing causes. At least one lawmaker called for legal revenge after Trump’s verdict.

“Time for Red State AGs and DAs to get busy,” Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) said on social media, referring to state and local prosecutors.

Republicans have also glossed over the fact that Trump’s guilty verdict was decided not by Democratic politicians, but by a jury of 12 New York residents, who Trump personally helped to pick for his trial.

Trump was “very much involved” in selecting his jury, his attorney, Todd Blanche, said Thursday night on Fox News. “He was right there with the whole team talking about the potential jurors.”

And even as the jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict, Blanche said the jurors “were great.”

“They showed up on time every day. They were committed. They paid attention,” he said. “But, we’re in a situation where we had a very limited number of people we could strike.”

But Republicans rejected the idea that Trump had been tried by a jury of his peers, suggesting that New York residents simply can’t be fair because the state tends to vote Democrat.

As Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) put it on social media, “New York is a liberal shit hole.”

Larry Hogan, the former governor of Maryland and a current U.S. Senate candidate, was the only high-profile Republican on Thursday to make a statement about respecting the outcome of the trial and the rule of law, regardless of what happened.

“I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process,” Hogan posted on social media before the verdict was announced. “At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders—regardless of party—must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship. We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

He was swiftly condemned by Trump supporters — and directly by Trump senior advisor Chris LaCivita.

“You just ended your campaign,” LaCivita replied to Hogan’s message.