Mike Johnson branded Trump’s ‘prop’ after House speaker attends hush money trial

Congressman Jim McGovern has condemned House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson as a “prop of Donald Trump” after he attended the former president’s hush money criminal trial.

The Democrat delivered the scathing criticism after Mr Johnson skipped a House session, to instead be 200 miles north in Manhattan to attend Mr Trump’s criminal trial as Mr Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Micahel Cohen took the stand.

Mr McGovern, who’s a fellow House member, branded Mr Johnson’s presence at Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday as a “stunt”.

The former president is charged with falsifying business records to allegedly cover up a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels to quash claims of an alleged 2006 affair ahead of the 2016 election. Mr Trump denies all 34 charges held against him and the accusations of an affair.

In remarks outside of the courthouse, Mr Johnson vowed that the Republican’s presumptive presidential candidate is “innocent”, adding that he’s a “friend”.

Jim McGovern scorned Johnson’s ‘stunt’ (Getty Images)
Jim McGovern scorned Johnson’s ‘stunt’ (Getty Images)

He also attacked District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Judge Juan Merchan and his daughter: something Mr Trump has been prohibited from doing publically since he was issued a gag order.

“Look at the cover of today’s New York Times, Mr Speaker. This is unbelievable,” Mr McGovern said as he addressed members on the House floor on Wednesday.

The front page of The New York Times featured a photo of Mr Johnson among a swathe of Republican leaders and Trump allies that arrived at the Manhattan courthouse.

The Maga crew’s appearance has also been deemed a pageant for vice presidential hopefuls.

Mike Johnson (centre) at Trump trial, used on NYT’s front page (AFP via Getty Images)
Mike Johnson (centre) at Trump trial, used on NYT’s front page (AFP via Getty Images)

“Here’s a picture of the Speaker of this House of Representatives, second in line to the presidency, standing in front of a courthouse, acting as a prop for Donald Trump, trying to interfere with a criminal trial, because apparently, Republicans like law and order unless it applies to them,” he added.

The Massachusetts lawmaker said that the American people deserve better than a Speaker of the House using his time to “rationalise” the former president’s alleged crimes.

Following his outburst, Mr McGovern was interrupted and asked to follow House rules and “refrain from engaging in personalities towards presumptive nominees for the office of president”.

He disagreed that he flouted regulations, adding that the opposition didn’t “have the nerve” to complain about the criminal justice system.

Republicans’ credibility on the matter “has evaporated. It is pathetic,” he responded.