NORFOLK, Va. — After former President Donald Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, several leaders that represent Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina at the state and federal levels weighed in.
The indictment, announced Thursday, came after a grand jury probed hush money that was paid during the 2016 presidential campaign to cover up allegations of an extramarital sexual encounter involving Trump.
The indictment itself has remained sealed, a standard in New York before arraignment, the Associated Press reports.
The responses largely fell along party lines. Republicans defended the former president and criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, while Democrats were more muted. Here's what our leaders had to say:
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin
"It is beyond belief that District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted a former President and current presidential candidate for pure political gain. Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America."
In a follow-up tweet, he said: "The left’s continued attempts to weaponize our judicial system erode people’s faith in the American justice system and it needs to stop."
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03)
"Without knowing what the charges are, it is impossible to intelligently comment on the apparent criminal indictment of @realDonaldTrump. Whatever the charges may be, he is constitutionally entitled to a presumption of innocence. We should wait for further developments."
Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert
"America's slide down the slippery slope to banana republic territory is on full display today. The indictment of former President Trump is political revenge, nothing more. All Americans should be deeply concerned. If a prosecutor can play this fast and loose with the criminal justice system in order to arrest a former President he simply doesn't like, then our entire political system is in peril."
State Sen. Louise Lucas
"Donald Trump just learned no one is above the law!"
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares
"As we have seen in recent years, including here in Virginia, when far-left progressive prosecutors pick and choose which crimes to prosecute and ignore to advance their ideological and political agenda, our nation's core principles of equal justice under the law are eroded.
The right leaders focus on the right priorities, and the priority of any prosecutor is to seek safe streets and justice for the victims of violent crime.
DA Alvin Bragg's response to New York's unprecedented crime wave was to institute a blanket policy not to prosecute certain crimes, showing small business owners, police officers, and families that keeping New Yorkers safe was not his priority.
Instead of being a voice for the victims of violent crime, he impaneled a grand jury for three months to indict a former president on a manufactured legal theory that almost every legal scholar has said is dubious and will have little likelihood of success.
In 2022, major crime increased by 36%, according to the New York Police Department.
Every minute Bragg spends prosecuting the former president is a minute he is not prosecuting violent criminals. This is a tragedy for violent crime victims and is one of the reasons Americans are losing trust in the government.
It's time we return to upholding the law honestly, fairly, and without prejudice and focus on serving the people that need our protection."
U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03)
"It says a lot about a justice system that is more eager to indictment an already investigated political candidate than they are the violent criminals who are terrorizing their citizens."