With Donald Trump indicted, Speaker Kevin McCarthy must not choose him over country | Opinion

·3 min read
Brandon Bell; Win McNamee/Getty Images

News broke Thursday that former President Donald Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury. Trump is the first ex-president ever to face being charged with a crime in U.S. history.

The indictment came a day after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters he needed more facts before he could discuss gun control legislation following the horrific shootings in Nashville.

Using his logic, then, McCarthy will wait to learn all the facts of the indictment before making a judgment about it.

But will he do that? No. Before Thursday’s indictment was announced, McCarthy had already disparaged the Manhattan district attorney pursuing the case against Trump.

In a tweet McCarthy pinned on his Twitter account on March 18, he wrote: “Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.”

McCarthy did this even though he did not possess all the facts being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in his investigation of Trump.

Besides, it was a grand jury — a group of citizens impaneled to hear evidence — that brought the indictment. Bragg had to first convince that jury that he had a case worth pursuing.

At the heart of the charges against Trump are allegations that, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he paid $130,000 in hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The payments were allegedly made through a shell company and illegally reported as a business expense.

McCarthy must control the GOP

What happens next is that Trump will be asked to surrender and face arraignment. He will be fingerprinted, photographed and possibly handcuffed.

The process Trump will go through is standard for what any accused person experiences. It will also be the latest example of how Trump has debased the presidency since he first began running for it in 2015.

Trump and his cronies will undoubtedly continue to attack Bragg and his prosecution as unfair and politically driven. It’s one thing when Trump acolytes do this, but it’s quite another when the Speaker of the House of Representatives uses the power of his office to do Trump’s bidding.

McCarthy wasted no time showing his outrage. Soon after the news broke, he accused Bragg of trying to interfere with presidential election politics.

Now that an indictment has been filed against Trump, McCarthy has a duty to his office and his position as Speaker to honor the judicial process.

McCarthy must hold the line against those in the GOP who wish to play the worst kind of politics over the Trump indictment.

McCarthy must tell Republicans to remain calm, that there must be no violence, and certainly nothing like the riot that occurred on Jan. 6 at the nation’s Capitol.

Make no mistake, this will be a time for fortitude. Trump’s most loyal followers will be outraged over the indictment, and some may preach attacks against Democrats and other perceived enemies.

America stands for better than that, and McCarthy must as well.

If instead McCarthy remains a loyal Trump foot soldier and fails the test of leadership, he will truly show how small a view he has of the office to which he has aspired.