Few GOP presidential contenders willing to criticize Trump in wake of E. Jean Carroll rape trial outcome

·3 min read

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday denounced former President Donald Trump after a jury found him liable of sexual abuse and defamation in the bombshell civil suit filed by E. Jean Carroll.

Breaking ranks with other announced Republican presidential candidates, who so far have largely kept quiet, Hutchinson trashed Trump’s “cavalier and arrogant contempt for the rule of law” after a Manhattan jury quickly awarded Carroll $5 million in the battery and defamation lawsuit.

“The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump,” Hutchinson said.

Longshot candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur, dismissed the outcome.

“Based on the sheer timing of the allegations ... this seems like just another part of the establishment’s anaphylactic response against its chief political allergen: Donald Trump,” Ramaswamy said in a statement.

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, another announced Republican candidate, did not immediately say anything about the matter.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been Trump’s most potent rival in early polls, also kept quiet, as did former Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom are considering entering the race.

Trump didn’t attend or testify at his trial. He plans to appeal, according to his campaign.

Congressional reactions to Tuesday’s outcome followed party lines, with some Republicans dodging the issue.

“You know what, I’ve been in this meeting — let me find out what happened,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Fla.) said when asked about the matter.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) described both the trial and jury as “a joke.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), a close Trump ally, dismissed the verdict as part of a plot against the former president.

“This won’t be the last,” he said. “People are gonna come at him from all angles ... People are gonna try and convict him on the papers in Mar-a-Lago. [They] can’t have him win.”

But Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), an ally of Trump critic Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, predicted there would be a “drumbeat” of legal blows to Trump.

“People are gonna have to decide if that’s a factor,” he said. “For a lot of voters, it’s gonna be.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said the verdict was serious and could effect Trump’s 2024 chances: “I’d much rather have a president that doesn’t have that history, but at the same time, at some point, there’ll be a binary choice, and then we’ll make it.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the case demonstrated Trump was not fit for office.

“The jury of his peers found him guilty of sexual assault and awarded $5 million to the person who was damaged,” he remarked. “I hope the jury of the American people reach the same conclusion about Donald Trump.”

Dems were, expectably, much more critical.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) lashed out at Trump, tweeting, “We learn(ed), again, that Donald Trump is a monster.”

Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) tied Trump to the GOP.

“The Republican party will STILL eagerly stand by him to prop him up while they offer their unwavering support. Their subservience is a slap in the face to survivors and all women,” Lee wrote on Twitter.

The outcome of the Carroll trial is unlikely to shake broad support for Trump within the Republican primary electorate, which has largely rallied behind him even as his legal jeopardy deepens.

A new poll that came out hours before the end of the trial found Trump with a 3-1 lead over DeSantis, with 61% support compared to 19% for the Florida governor.

Hutchinson, who is seeking to separate himself from the pack by openly criticizing Trump, clocked in at just 1% in the same poll.

With Molly Crane-Newman