Texas Republicans in Congress stand behind Donald Trump after federal indictment

Former President Donald Trump's presidential campaign rally drew crowds to Waco on March 25, 2023. Credit: Leila Saidane/The Texas Tribune

A 37-count federal indictment, unsealed Friday, accused former President Donald Trump of lying to federal investigators as part of a scheme to keep classified documents in his possession, but numerous Texas Republicans continue to stand by him, dismissing the charges as a partisan ploy.

“Today is a very sad day in American history,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on his podcast Friday. “We have never in over two centuries of our nation’s history had a new president who launched the entire Department of Justice, the entire machinery of justice on a vendetta to persecute, to attack, to investigate, to indict, to try to throw in jail the former president who, it should be noted, is also currently the leading contender on the Republican side to run against the current president.”

A federal grand jury in Florida indicted Trump on Thursday over his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home, as well as efforts to hide them from federal agents.

Federal agents found troves of documents marked classified, including “information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack,” according to the indictment.

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But several Texas Republicans quickly rallied to Trump’s defense and echoed his claims of a partisan attack.

“WITCH HUNT!!! They KNOW they can’t beat Trump at the ballot box, so Biden has WEAPONIZED our entire federal government against him,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, who previously served as Trump’s White House doctor. “This is a DARK DAY in American history, but we’ll get the last laugh. Trump will be BACK in the White House!!”

“The Merrick Garland indictment of @realDonaldTrump is a blatant and disgraceful political hit job. As President, Trump could declassify anything he wanted,” tweeted Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Irving. “Biden had documents all over the eastern seaboard before he was President.”

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who has endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid, also came to Trump’s defense.

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“The rule of law & strength of our nation depend on the blind application of justice & rejection of the politicization of DOJ. From Mark Houck & Scott Smith to President Trump – even as the Biden family corruption has long been ignored – Congress must act to restore norms,” Roy tweeted.

U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, bashed the investigation as perverse and threatened future funding for a new FBI headquarters “to stop forcing taxpayers to fund these nefarious actions.”

Republican U.S. Reps. Keith Self, Pat Fallon, Lance Gooden, August Pfluger, Randy Weber, Troy Nehls, Roger Williams, Brian Babin, Michael Burgess and Wesley Hunt released similar statements.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told NBC News he didn’t want to comment on the case “until we know the facts.” Cornyn has shied away from endorsing any Republican presidential candidate but has expressed doubt that Trump could win if he secured the nomination.

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Trump immediately dismissed the indictment as “election interference” on his Truth Social platform — an echo of his defense during the August search of his home. He accused President Joe Biden of siccing the Justice Department to sweep away a top Republican candidate in 2024.

U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, a former public defender, rejected the characterization, tweeting Biden “didn’t INDICT ANYONE. The secret grand jury of his Florida peers indicted Trump! What’s unconscionable is pushing this propaganda or maybe defending a twice impeached multi indicted sexual abuser.”

Other Texas Democrats insisted Trump be tried for alleged crimes like any other American. U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, said in a statement that Trump “deserves his day in court, and the American people deserve justice.”

U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, said the “indictment of former President Trump reflects the rule of law at work. It is important for our country to let the legal process proceed in the courts, without the interference of politicians.”

“No person in the United States, including the President, is above the law,” Fletcher said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said Trump had numerous opportunities to turn over the classified documents, adding “no other citizen in our great land would have been allowed as many opportunities to do the right thing.”

“When I was an impeachment manager, I argued that Trump incited an insurrection that gave our foreign enemies unprecedented exposure to the halls of Congress. Again and again, his crimes put our national security at risk,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said in a tweet. “Nobody — not even a former President — is above the law.”

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, blasted Cruz for casting the indictment as a partisan ploy as “wrong and Texans deserve better from their Senator.” Allred is challenging Cruz for his Senate seat in 2024.

The indictment is Trump’s second after a New York grand jury charged him over his role in allegedly paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an affair. He is also subject to another investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.