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DeSantis puts rivalry aside in reaction to Trump indictment

"Why so zealous in pursuing Trump...?" the Florida governor wrote in a tweet.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When it comes to Donald Trump's federal indictment, it seems Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is setting the rivalry with his top GOP opponent aside.

In a tweet Thursday night, DeSantis reacted to the news that the former president had been charged with mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate — giving voters a glimpse at just how far he'll go to undermine his leading contender.

The Florida governor focused his criticism on what he called the Department of Justice's "political bias" rather than the former president.

The statement mimicked the message DeSantis pushed back in August during the FBI's initial search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, in which he called it "another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents."

Although he doesn't often mention Trump by name, DeSantis, just two weeks into his presidential campaign, has worked to highlight how his approach to issues like immigration and COVID-19 set him apart from his former ally. 

Trump is the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal government that he once oversaw. His indictment not only carries grave legal consequences but also enormous political implications — testing the willingness of GOP voters and party leaders to stick with a now twice-indicted candidate.

Trump declared his innocence in a video and repeated his familiar refrain that the investigation is a “witch hunt.” He said he planned to be in court Tuesday afternoon in Miami, where a grand jury had been meeting to hear evidence as recently as this week.

The investigation into Trump had appeared complicated — politically, if not legally — by the discovery of documents with classified markings in the Delaware home and former Washington office of President Joe Biden, as well as in the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence. The Justice Department recently informed Pence that he would not face charges, while a second special counsel continues to investigate Biden’s handling of classified documents. 

But compared with Trump, there are key differences in the facts and legal issues surrounding Biden’s and Pence’s handling of documents, including that representatives for both men say the documents were voluntarily turned over to investigators as soon as they were found.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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