Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin’s Congressional Republicans Blast Trump Indictment

Indictment marks first time in history a former president faces criminal charges.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Mar 31st, 2023 04:28 pm
Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Republican members of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation say the indictment of former President Donald Trump is politically motivated and represents the “weaponization” of government.

The comments came within hours of news that Trump would face criminal charges for alleged ties to a hush money payment to a porn star as he ran for president in 2016.

Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury Thursday afternoon. The indictment remains under seal, so it’s unclear what charges the former president may face. But the jury has been investigating a payment of $130,000 from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with the former president.

In Dec. 2018, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for the payments, with Judge William H. Pauley III calling the crimes a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.” During sentencing, Cohen apologized in court and said, “I felt it was my duty to cover up his (Trump’s) dirty deeds.”

The grand jury’s decision marks the first time in American history that a former president would face criminal charges.

In a series of tweets, Republicans from Wisconsin blasted the indictment, calling it politically motivated. Some focused on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, either directly or indirectly. Republican U.S. Senator Ron Jonson, Thursday, tweeted that “leftists are destroying America.”

“With all the problems facing our country — many exacerbated by Radical Left governance — now a George Soros funded D.A. issues a political indictment against a former president,” Johnson said.

Republican Congressman Scott Fitzgeraldtweeted that Trump’s indictment “is just the latest of the weaponization of government against conservatives.”

“Radical District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is best known for charging a bodega clerk with murder for defending himself, has largely ignored Congress and abused his office to seek political prosecution of the former President, rather than focus on the rampant violent crimes in his own backyard,” Fitzgerald said.

A tweet Thursday afternoon from Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden echoed the comments about “weaponization” of government by liberals.

“Their blatant abuse of power is destroying our democracy and should be resoundingly condemned by all Americans who care about the rule of law,” Van Orden said.

Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan was the first of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to tweet about the indictment, calling it a sign the nation’s “democracy is strong.”

“No one is above the law, not even a former President,” Pocan said. “That’s a good thing.”

In a statement Thursday, Republican Congressman Bryan Steil also focused on Bragg stating his “unprecedented move … raises many questions.”

“To maintain confidence in our system, it is imperative that our justice system be impartial and that all who come before it are treated equally without regard to politics,” Steil said.

A week earlier on March 20, Steil joined two top Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives in demanding Bragg testify before congress about the investigation and the pending indictment. A letter from Steil, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky accused brag of preparing to “engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”

“This indictment comes after years of your office searching for a basis — any basis — on which to bring charges, ultimately settling on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue,” the letter said.

In a Friday morning tweet, Republican Congressman Tom Tiffany made similar comments attacking the indictment, calling it “a dangerous effort by the far left” that “should worry every fair-minded American, regardless of political affiliation.”

WPR has reached out to the rest of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation members.

As some Republicans defend Trump and some Democrats celebrate the indictment of the former president, political scientist Mordecai Lee, a professor-emeritus at UW-Milwaukee, told WPR he suspects Trump will use the news to rally his base supporters.

“I think this is not fatal to him,” Lee said. “He’s a survivor. But nonetheless, we have to focus on those few Wisconsinites who are ticket splitters and swing voters. What will they think next week, next month and next year?”

Those ticket splitters in Wisconsin seem nearly extinct, said Lee, with several recent statewide elections decided by around 20,000 and 30,000 votes among millions cast. And since 2010, he said there’s been a transformation in state politics with lawmakers “frozen into their positions.”

“When we look at the kind of social media stuff and statements put out by elected officials from the two parties in the last 24 hours, it really shows us how predictable and locked in the two parties are,” Lee said. “It’s almost like we don’t even need to know what they’re saying because we know what they would say.”

Top Republicans from Wisconsin blast indictment of former President Donald Trump was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

2 thoughts on “Wisconsin’s Congressional Republicans Blast Trump Indictment”

  1. robertm60a3 says:

    I agree no one is above the law, and I’m concerned when those representing me in Congress object to the rule of law. There was a grand jury, and the grand jury was presented with evidence. Is there a belief that any President is above the law?

    President Trump hasn’t been convicted. Are our representatives telling us that the legal process is flawed?

    I sent the following letter to Senator Johnson asking that he follow up with the Secretary of the Navy concerning US Navy Officers accepting bribes. One of his staffers told me – yes, we’re on it. And, then nothing – no action.

    United States Senate
    Washington, DC

    Honorable Carlos Del Toro
    Secretary of the Navy
    1000 Navy Pentagon,
    Washington, DC 20350

    A constituent recently brought to my attention a series of Secretarial letters of Censure signed by the former Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. These letters document behavior that was a discredit to the proud history of the United States Navy and less than what should be expected by the citizens of the United States and those serving in the military.
    My constitution has asked for information on the handling of these cases and what consideration, if any, given considering the authority granted to the Secretary of the Navy under the provisions of 10 U.S. Code § 1370 Retirement of Regular Commissioned Officers in the Highest Grade in Which Served Satisfactorily. The law provides that where an officer has committed misconduct, the Secretary of the Navy may deem the officer to have not served satisfactorily, and the grade next lower shall be the retired grade of the officer.
    Effective January 1, 2021, Subsection (f) of § 1370 provides the Secretary of the Navy with authority to reopen a retirement grade determination “If substantial evidence comes to light after the retirement that could have led to the determination of a different retired grade if known by competent authority at the time of retirement.”
    While I understand that the final decision is your, this authority would allow you to review the following cases where the behavior was less than the high standards of the U.S. Navy and where justified, as authorized by law (10 U.S. Code § 1370(f)(6)), administratively reduce the retired rank to the next lower level.
    The following is a list of officers, the date of the Secretarial Letter of Censure, with quotes from the Letter of Censure:
    a. Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Mark C. Montgomery, USN (Ret), from Censure dated November 19, 2018
    “. . . demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and leadership by repeatedly and improperly accepting gifts . . . improperly endorsed, provided information to, . . . made false official statements to mislead . . . you also committed the offense of graft, . . . brought discredit upon the Navy. . . “
    b. Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Richard Wren, USN (Ret), from Censure dated June 14, 2018
    “. . . demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and leadership by repeatedly and improperly accepting gifts . . .you lied and misled the investigator rather than take responsibility for your actions. . . . brought ill-repute and disgrace upon our honored institution. . .led officers under your charge and your leadership to imitate your poor behavior.”
    c. Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Kenneth J. Norton, USN (Ret), from Censure dated November 28, 2017
    “. . . demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and leadership by repeatedly and improperly accepting gifts. . . attended a private party . . . paid nothing . . . including services of prostitutes . . . you directed your subordinate officers to attend . . . approximately $9,000 on food, alcohol, and the services of prostitutes. . . . lead a reasonable person . . . to believe that you used your public office for private gain. . . provided the worst type of example for subordinate officers . . . deviation from the standards . . . disgrace . . .”
    d. Captain Timothy Conroy, USN (Ret), from Censure dated June 14, 2018
    “. . . demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and leadership by repeatedly and improperly accepting gifts . . . These events involved excessive alcohol consumption and included the presence of women identified as prostitutes, . . . By encouraging subordinate officers to attend these events, . . . to identify and target other officers. . . It is clear that you did not care about the reputation of the Navy or the example you were setting for subordinate officers.”
    e. Captain Ricardo Martinez, USN (Ret), from Censure dated April 29, 2019
    “From February 2002 to July 2006, . . . you demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and blatant disregard for principles of ethical conduct. . . . You also committed graft . . . Based on the evidence reviewed, the total value of the gifts you wrongfully received or solicited was $15,845.42. . . . you willfully derelict in your duties. . . .”
    The Sailors of the United States Navy deserve the best leadership available. Based on the behavior documents in the cited Letters of Censure (copies attached), my constitution believes that there was a failure in leadership. It is not in the security interest of the United States to reward those that fail our Sailors and bring discredit to the United States Navy.
    Please provide me with a written response so that I may provide my constitution concerning actions that you have taken or plan to take to reduce the rank of these officers in retirement.

    5 Enclosures Sincerely,
    Letters of Censure

    Ron Johnson

  2. kaygeeret says:

    Does anyone seriously believe that any republican elected to state or federal office in WI will actually act in any way that benefits the residents of the state of WI?

    Of course not. They will simply follow the money and make sure they get a share of the pie. Then they are done.

    RoJo is notorious for never responding to a constituent’s question regarding a substantive issue.

    In fact, they never seem to answer a phone from a WI resident. Apparently I don’t have the secret number given to the wealthy buddies.

    Of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

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