Without naming Trump, his Republican rival DeSantis condemns his indictment

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized the indictment of rival Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday, saying there had been what he called double standards in issuing charges.

U.S. prosecutors unsealed a 37-count indictment against Trump on Friday, accusing the former president of risking some of the country’s most sensitive security secrets after leaving office in 2021.

“I think there needs to be one standard of justice in this country,” DeSantis said in remarks on Friday night at a party convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. He condemned what he termed a “weaponization” of government agencies, although he did not mention Trump by name in his speech.

“Hillary had the emails,” DeSantis said. “Is there a different standard for a Democrat Secretary of State versus a former Republican president?”

Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state under President Barack Obama, lost to Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. During the campaign, she faced questions about her handling of classified material after it became public that she had used a private email server in her home for some of her correspondence.

A U.S. State Department investigation found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees, and the FBI said Clinton had been “careless” but it did not recommend criminal charges.

Trump faces 37 criminal counts, including charges of unauthorized retention of classified documents and conspiracy to obstruct justice, after he left the White House in 2021, according to federal court documents made public on Friday.

Republicans have alleged that the investigation into Trump, who is running to unseat Democratic President Joe Biden from the White House in 2024, is politically motivated. Biden and top officials have repeatedly said the Justice Department is acting independently.

“You can’t have one faction of society weaponizing the power of the state against factions that it doesn’t like. And that’s what we’ve seen,” said DeSantis, who is running a distant second behind Trump in opinion polls for the Republican nomination.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)