Voices: House Republicans declare war – but Senate Republicans don’t want to talk about Trump’s indictment

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Few Republicans have criticised former president Donald Trump more than Senator Mitt Romney. The 2012 Republican nominee for president and current Utah Senator voted to convict Mr Trump in his impeachment trial in 2020 and his impeachment after the January 6 riot in 2021.

But when your dispatcher caught him in the Senate basement on Tuesday evening ahead of votes, he had little to say about the potential indictment of Mr Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

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“You know, I’ll have something for you if and when that occurs, but it hasn’t and so I got nothing,” he told The Independent.

Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the other six other Republican Senators who voted to convict Mr Trump for his actions on January 6, said he wouldn’t talk about it.

“I’ve already been asked about this,” he told reporters. “I mean, y’all are following this news. I’m not thinking about anything but Social Security. “

As Senators arrived on Tuesday for votes in the evening, many of them seemed reluctant to discuss the impending indictment of their former – and in many ways – current leader of their party.

“We’ve all been watching it, I’m just gonna wait and see what happens,” Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, told The Independent.

The reticence of many Senate Republicans stands in stark contrast to House Republicans, On Monday, the chairmen of the House Judiciary, Oversight & Accountability and Administration Committees sent a letter requesting Mr Bragg provide communications, documents and testimony about the potential indictment of the former president regarding his alleged hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her affair.

Senate Republicans aren’t taking that approach. Part of that is that despite Mr Trump’s influence, much of the Senate has largely moved on from Trump. Where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Mr Trump have a symbiotic relationship, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is still recovering from an injury, would rather not talk about Mr Trump.

One of Mr McConnell’s lieutenants, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, all but scoffed at Republicans looking into Mr Bragg.

“I would hope they’d stick to the agenda that they ran on when they got elected to the majority,” he told reporters.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, one of the more measured Republicans in tone, gave a response that tried to split the difference.

“I’m not going to interfere in the legal poceedings,” she told The Independent. “It seems like a politicised matter but we’ll have to see what they come up with.”

Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave a similar response.

“First of all, we don’t know what he’s going to be indicted for,” he said. “So I think it’s too early to make a judgment. But I do think it’s reasonable to consider that there’s political considerations involved, and particularly when a federal prosecutor decided it wasn’t worth prosecuting.”

That isn’t to say that Republicans are jazzed about the indictment and many of them called it a political witch hunt.

“What’s going on in New York is a total sham,” Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who also runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the Senate. “This is a misdemeanor by a rogue DA, who, by the way ran on a platform of saying he’s going to do this to President Trump.”

That may change soon, though. More senators will eventually be more in the Trump mold. And indeed, Senators Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Eric Schmitt of Missouri, both of whom have backed Mr Trump’s 2024 candidacy, both criticised the potential indictment.

“I think this is a very dangerous road for the country to go down,” Mr Schmitt told The Independent. “I think this is a political hit-job, a political prosecution i search of a crime. Whether you like Donald Trump or not, this is really dangerous for the country to go down.”

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas took a different tack from the one of his Texas counterpart Mr Cornyn,

“I think it is legally frivolous, I think it’s an abuse of prosecutorial power,” he said.

Before he headed into the elevator, he promoted his podcast, where he said he went into why it was bad practice at length.