What Trump’s top SC rivals, allies say about his indictment ahead of Columbia visit
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - In just two days, the focus of the political world will be on South Carolina, where former President Donald Trump will make his first visit to an early-voting state following his third indictment in four months.
Trump will be speaking at the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual “Silver Elephant Gala” in Columbia, where Gov. Henry McMaster and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are among prominent Republicans expected to be in attendance.
McMaster is one of former President Trump’s top allies in South Carolina.
The governor was also, at one point, the state’s top federal prosecutor as U.S. Attorney for South Carolina under President Ronald Reagan and South Carolina’s top state prosecutor as the state’s attorney general.
He told reporters Wednesday he believes this latest federal indictment is insubstantial.
“Reading about it and reading those portions that I have, I just do not see the substance. I don’t think the law fits it. I don’t think the facts fit it. And this is just a campaign against Donald Trump,” McMaster said.
On Tuesday, Trump was indicted on four new federal charges, accusing him of working to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.
The governor told reporters he believes special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the federal government’s prosecution, is “out of line” with the four charges.
He does not believe it will have a negative effect on Trump’s chances in the Palmetto State’s Republican primary.
“I think he’ll win and he’ll win handily South Carolina,” McMaster said.
Hours before Trump’s arraignment Thursday in federal court in Washington, where he pleaded not guilty to the four charges, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke virtually with South Carolina reporters.
DeSantis has been critical of the investigations leading to Trump’s indictments and vowed to end “the weaponization of government.”
“IRS, DOJ, FBI,” he listed. “You’ll have a new FBI director day one. You’ll see the DOJ, we will clean house. We will be actively holding those agencies accountable.”
But DeSantis said this election should be a referendum on what he characterizes as the failures of the Biden administration.
“If the election becomes about the past, if it becomes about what happened three or four years ago, five or six years ago, if it’s about this document or that document, well, Biden’s going to be able to be in the basement again. He’s going to be able to fly under the radar, and I think he’s going to be able to get away with it again, and we’re going to end up saying, ‘What happened? How come we can’t win these elections?’” DeSantis said.
In recent months, Trump has held steady in topping the polls of likely Republican voters in South Carolina with DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley jockeying for position behind him, ahead of the rest of the field.
In a tweet, Scott said he is concerned about “the weaponization of Biden’s [Department of Justice] and its immense power used against political opponents.”
Haley’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment on Trump’s latest indictment and how it could impact the race.
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