Trump amplifies unfounded claim Ron DeSantis ‘groomed’ underaged students with alcohol in Truth Social post

Donald Trump has amplified a social media post suggesting Florida governor Ron DeSantis “groomed” teen girls and drank with his students while the Republican state leader was a high school teacher.

In a series of statements on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday, Mr Trump responded to a post from a user showing a low-quality photo of a man with a resemblance to Mr DeSantis standing with a group of young women with blurred out faces, one of whom appears to be holding a beer bottle.

“Here is Ron DeSanctimonious grooming high school girls with alcohol as a teacher,” a caption on the user’s post reads.

Mr Trump, resharing the image multiple times, responded, “No way?” and, “That’s not Ron, is it?”

Mr DeSantis has yet to address the matter publicly as of Wednesday morning. The Independent has contacted his office for comment.

The image, shared by a Truth Social user whose other posts include a claim that he is a “soldier for Trump ready to go on a battlefield and shed blood,” links back to a 2021 report on Mr DeSantis from a site called Hill Reporter, a blog from a Democratic super PAC.

The article cites anonymous sources and claims that someone with “close knowledge of the matter” said Mr DeSantis “had a reputation among students for being a young ‘hot teacher’ who girls loved, and the girls in the photo are believed to have graduated in 2002, making them seniors at the time.”

Last year, the New York Times reported that after Mr DeSantis graduated from college, he spent time teaching at the Darlington School in Georgia as a 23-year-old, where he had a reputation for attending parties with seniors who lived nearby.

“As an 18-year-old, I remember thinking, ‘What are you doing here, dude?’” one former student told the paper.

Others said his alleged presence at the parties, including at least two where alcohol was served, wasn’t unwelcomed.

“It was his first job out of Yale, he was cute. We didn’t really think too much about it,” another former student told the Times.

Mr Trump’s amplification of the photo comes as he seeks another run at the White House in 2024, a campaign in which Governor DeSantis is seen as a top Republican rival.