DeSantis Says He Hopes Trump Isn’t Charged in Jan. 6 Investigation

Ron DeSantis stopped short of criticizing his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, or staking out major policy differences, even as he seeks to reset his faltering campaign.

(Bloomberg) — Ron DeSantis stopped short of criticizing his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump, or staking out major policy differences, even as he seeks to reset his faltering campaign.

The Florida governor said the nation would be best served by moving on from Trump, but wished that the former president not face charges in the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

“I hope he doesn’t get charged. I don’t think it’ll be good for the country,” DeSantis said in a Tuesday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “At the same time, I’ve got to focus on looking forward and that’s what we’re going to do.”

DeSantis’s decision to avoid directly criticizing Trump highlights the dilemma he faces in appealing to Republicans eager for a new party standard bearer while avoiding angering the former president’s fervent and sizable base. 

His campaign has also been knocked off-kilter by the way Trump’s legal woes have mobilized and energized the Republican base to rally around the former president. Tuesday’s interview was yet another instance in which an investigation into Trump shrouded DeSantis’s efforts to gain traction as it occurred hours after Trump indicated that he’s likely to be charged with new federal crimes.

The latest revolves around Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions in the aftermath of the presidential election, including the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

“This country is going down the road of criminalizing political differences, and I think that’s wrong,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis’s comments on Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as issues like diversity, equality and inclusion policies in the military, also did not break any new ground, as he shied away from outlining any firm stances on his support for the war in Ukraine or a national abortion ban. 

Charges against Trump in the Jan. 6 matter would mark an explosive development in the presidential race, but so far his opponents for the GOP nomination have failed to capitalize on his legal troubles.

“I don’t think it serves us good to have a presidential election focused on what happened four years ago, in January, and so, I want to focus on looking forward. I don’t want to look back,” DeSantis said.

Read more: Trump Gets Letter Saying He Is a Target of DOJ Jan. 6 Probe

DeSantis is trailing the GOP front runner by over 33 percentage points according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls. The governor’s CNN appearance was his first television interview with a mainstream news organization since entering the presidential race in May, part of an effort to reinvigorate his campaign.

Yet the interview was interspersed between reports on Trump’s legal troubles, including new charges against fake Trump electors in Michigan during the 2020 race, showing how the former president continues to overshadow his opponents. 

Trump, in a post on his Truth Social account, said he received notice Sunday night giving him “a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.”

The ex-president is already under federal indictment for allegedly mishandling classified materials and has been indicted in New York state court over hush money payments to a porn star. 

DeSantis criticized the other investigations into the president, claiming the FBI had been “weaponized against” Biden’s political opponents. He also accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of singling out Trump. 

“Most people even people on the left acknowledge if that wasn’t Trump, that case would not have likely been brought against the normal civilian,” he said. 

“As president, my job is to restore a single standard of justice to end weaponization of these agencies,” DeSantis added.

Trump has seen his polling and fundraising surge after past indictments that have fired up his supporters. Top Republicans have largely lined up behind him, calling the federal charges over classified materials an abuse of power by President Joe Biden.

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