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Lindsey Graham on the verge of tears. Marjorie Taylor Greene vowing to protest in New York. See GOP reactions to Trump’s indictment.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, with Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, outside the Supreme Court in 2021.Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appearing to be on the verge of tears during a television appearance. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowing he would not assist with any extradition request to his state. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia pledging to travel to New York on Tuesday in protest.

After the news broke Thursday that Donald Trump had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in connection with an alleged hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the final days of his 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans erupted in outrage over the unprecedented development and rallied around the former president.


Flocking to social media and conservative news outlets, elected officials and party leaders condemned the charges as politically motivated and urged support for Trump, calling the prosecution a bleak day in American history.

“It’s a tragic day for our country because today is a significant turning point in our nation’s history. Today marks a moment in the death of the rule of law. This indictment is utter garbage. It is baseless. It is frivolous,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told Ben Ferguson on “The Mark Levin Show” Thursday.

“The Democrat Party’s hatred for Donald Trump knows no bounds,” he tweeted. “This is completely unprecedented and is a catastrophic escalation in the weaponization of the justice system.”

Trump’s indictment by a grand jury followed a lengthy investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into payments made to Daniels, who has alleged she had an affair with the former president. While the charges against Trump have not been unsealed, Republicans accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of conducting a “witch hunt” against Trump.

Speak of the House Kevin McCarthy claimed Bragg had irreparably damaged the country “in an attempt to interfere in our presidential election” and had “weaponized our sacred system of justice.”


“The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account,” McCarthy said.

Even Republicans who have emerged as potential rivals to Trump for the presidency — namely former vice president Mike Pence and DeSantis, rose up in his defense against the indictment.

Despite reports of a feud between him and Trump in recent months, DeSantis said the legal system was being used against Trump to “advance a political agenda” and condemned the indictment as “un-American.”

“Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda,” he tweeted, referring to George Soros, a billionaire Democratic donor.

Although Pence told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during a scheduled appearance Thursday that “no one is above the law, including former presidents,” he called the charges against Trump an “unprecedented indictment” and “an outrage.”

“This is an issue about campaign finances, and it’s tenuous at best,” Pence said. “This is a bad decision by a political prosecutor and I think the American people are going to see right through it.”

Many of those who rushed to Trump’s defense are members of the far-right faction of the Republican Party, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who tweeted a one-word statement: “Outrageous.”

Greene, who has often come under fire for vitriolic remarks and has emerged as a vocal ally of Trump, said she would be traveling to New York Tuesday. Court officials confirmed Friday that Trump will be arraigned at a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday afternoon.


The Georgia Republican claimed Democrats “want civil war” and “know Trump did not break the law.”

“We MUST protest the unconstitutional WITCH HUNT!” she tweeted. “[Democrats] want to push us into reacting so they can use their weaponized government to lock us all up.”

Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado also described the indictment as “another political witch hunt.” Posting a photo of herself smiling beside Trump, she said she would continue to support him and urged her backers to do the same, calling on people to “get angry and start fighting.”

“This country isn’t going to be taken back if we just give up,” she tweeted.

With a criminal indictment not disqualifying Trump from running for president for a third time, several Republicans in Congress reaffirmed their support for his campaign.

As his eyes brimmed with tears and the audience heckled him in the background, Graham called on people to support Trump’s legal fight and said the case against the former president would “destroy America.”

“We’re going to fight back at the ballot box. We’re not going to give in,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “How does this end, Sean? Trump wins in court and he wins the election. That’s how this ends.”


On Twitter, Graham said that to “avoid prosecution” Trump “should smash some windows, rob a few shops and punch a cop” on his way to the district attorney’s office in New York.

During an appearance Thursday on Fox News, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz made a slew of conspiratorial claims to host Laura Ingraham about the indictment, alleging interference in the upcoming presidential election and the involvement of the Biden administration in the charges.

Gaetz said on Twitter he spoke with Trump and the former president is “resolute and focused” but is also “concerned about what this politically motivated indictment will do to America’s brand around the world.”

“We will wake up in a very different America tomorrow because we can no longer have moral authority against the dictators and despots who find it easier to jail their political rivals than to compete against them in free and fair elections,” he tweeted.

Hawley, the first senator to object to Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and who received widespread criticism for his actions during the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, said Republicans must “defend democracy” in the wake of Trump’s indictment while implying the Department of Justice had aided in the prosecution.

“This is burning down the rule of law. They will regret doing this,” Hawley said while speaking with Jesse Waters on Fox News Thursday.

See more statements from Republicans below:

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.