Donald Trump’s legal woes divide Republican presidential candidates

‘This is bad stuff’ says former New Jersey governor Chris Christie

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Republican Party of Iowa's 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday, July 28.  AP
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Former president Donald Trump’s mounting legal problems have become a fixture of the 2024 election cycle with leading Republican candidates divided over the merit of the federal government’s case against Mr Trump.

Mr Trump, who remains far and away the front-runner to win the Republican nomination, faced yet more criminal charges last week.

Federal prosecutors issued three more charges in the classified documents case bringing the number of charges he faces to 40.

He is the first president to have been impeached twice and to be criminally charged.

“This is bad stuff,” former New Jersey governor Chris Christie told CNN. “You can’t say there was no underlying potential crime here. This was the withholding of confidential classified information from the government.

Mr Christie has been a vocal critic of the former president and has often drawn his ire.

But other candidates remain steadfastly behind the former president.

Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who made a name for himself in conservative circles by bashing liberal culture, has said if elected he would pardon Mr Trump.

“I intend to be the next president and yes I do believe I will move us forward and yes I think one of the right ways to do that is to pardon the former president of the United States from what is clearly a politicised prosecution,” Mr Ramaswamy told CNN.

Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under Mr Trump, struck a more neutral stance.

“I've said before that if these accusations are true, it's incredibly dangerous to our national security,” Ms Haley told CBS.

“But again, this is coming down from a Department of Justice that, frankly, the American people don't trust. And so I think we have to wait and see what the evidence comes down as he's got to defend himself. And we'll wait and see as that comes together.”

A recent poll by Monmouth University shows that Mr Trump still holds a commanding lead over what has become a crowded field.

Despite his legal challenges, 54 per cent of Republican-leaning voters said they supported the former president.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was a distant second in the poll with 22 per cent followed by Mr Ramaswamy.

Mr Trump has vowed to continue his bid for the Oval Office even if he is convicted of any of the charges he faces.

Updated: July 30, 2023, 11:08 PM