- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said supporters of former President Donald Trump should not hold protests if Mr. Trump is indicted on charges related to alleged hush-money payments he made seven years ago.

“I don’t think people should protest this, no, and if you talk to President Trump he doesn’t believe this either,” the California Republican told reporters at a gathering of House Republicans aimed at mapping out the party’s agenda.

Mr. McCarthy’s statement follows Mr. Trump’s call Saturday for his supporters to “protest, protest, protest,” and “take our nation back,” in response to leaked information about a probe by liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

According to the leaks, Mr. Bragg is on the verge of indicting the former president on felony charges that could lead to his arrest this week.

Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Trump’s calls for protests, delivered on his Truth Social media site, were misinterpreted and that the former president intended for his supporters to  “educate people about what is going on.”

Mr. Trump, he added, “is not talking in a harmful way and nobody should harm one another.”

Critics immediately drew parallels between Mr. Trump’s latest calls for protests and his speech to throngs of supporters ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called Mr. Trump’s social media posting “reckless,” and aimed at keeping himself in the news “and to foment unrest among his supporters.”

Mrs. Pelosi threw her full backing behind Mr. Bragg’s investigation, despite legal experts questioning whether the case has merit.

News leaked last week that Mr. Trump is facing an indictment on felony charges related to hush money his former fixer Michael Cohen said he paid adult performer Stormy Daniels seven years ago. 

Mr. Bragg elevated what would normally be a misdemeanor offense to a felony charge and is prosecuting the case past the five-year statute of limitations. 

“He cannot hide from his violations of the law, disrespect for our elections and incitements to violence,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Rightfully, our legal system will decide how to hold him accountable.”

Mr. McCarthy and other top Republicans condemned Mr. Bragg’s case as incredibly weak, and accused him of using his office to attack a political opponent. 

“This is the type of thing America hates and it divides America and it is wrong,” Mr. McCarthy said. 

Mr. McCarthy told reporters his office is frequently visited by protesters, including on Friday.

“I think I’ve been very clear that I do not believe there should be any violence,” Mr. McCarthy said. 

Back at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, a group of protesters gathered on the bridge leading to his estate.

In response to Mr. Trump’s call for protests, Mr. Bragg told staff in an internal memo that he will “not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.”

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide