House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tried to downplay the Manhattan DA’s case against former president Donald Trump, regarding hush money payments to a porn star he was allegedly involved with, on Tuesday as simply an investigation into what the former president did with his “personal money.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been investigating Trump for his involvement in a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 to prevent her from discussing their alleged affair. Trump told his supporters over the weekend that he believes an indictment looms on his horizon.
“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK,” he wrote on Truth Social early Saturday. “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
It remains unclear why Trump believes he will be indicted, and why he believed the indictment was coming on Tuesday; Trump claimed that the information came to him through “ILLEGAL LEAKS.” Bragg, who’s overseeing the case, hasn’t spoken publicly about his intentions or theory of the case, but his office recently offered Trump the chance to testify before a grand jury, signaling that he could soon be facing a criminal indictment.
House Speaker McCarthy has struggled to control the narrative ever since. “This was personal money,” he told reporters from a House GOP retreat on Tuesday. “This was seven years ago, statute of limitations.”
After Trump’s announcement, House GOPers scrambled to express outrage in support of the former president. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) even demanded that Bragg provide sworn testimony about whether he’d communicated with the Justice Department about the case.
McCarthy himself has tried to skirt the line between following the party line and discouraging Trump’s more aggressive impulses. “Here we go again—an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump,” McCarthy tweeted over the weekend.
But he later tried to temper Trump’s call to action: “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” he told reporters. “No one should harm another on this.”
On Tuesday, he seems to have worked out his spin. “I think you know in your heart of hearts that this is just political,” he said. “And I think that’s what the rest of the country thinks. And we’re kind of tired of that.”