Facebook Twitter

Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney have different reactions to news of Trump indictment

Lee said the decision to charge Trump ‘echoes despotism,’ while Romney said Trump ‘brought these charges upon himself’

SHARE Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney have different reactions to news of Trump indictment
Boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records stored in a bathroom and shower in the Lake Room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents, according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023.

Justice Department via Associated Press

According to a newly unsealed indictment, former President Donald Trump faces dozens of charges for his handling of classified documents after he left political office.

Federal prosecutors say Trump didn’t just hold on to secret documents, but he tried to hide them, and failed to turn them over when asked. The indictment, unsealed Friday, says the classified documents contained information about the nation’s defense and weapons capabilities, including on the country’s nuclear programs.

But critics of the decision to charge Trump, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., say he has been treated differently than other politicians who have stored classified documents, including President Joe Biden. They also accuse the Department of Justice of engaging in a partisan political attack against Trump, who is a current Republican presidential candidate.

DOJ special counsel Jack Smith spoke about the 49-page indictment at a press conference Friday, where he defended the integrity of his investigation.

“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” he said.

On Friday, Utah’s two Republican senators had different reactions to the news of Trump’s indictment.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee released a statement after the indictment was unsealed, where he criticized the Biden administration for charging Trump, saying it “echoes despotism.”

“The Biden administration’s actions can only be compared to the type of oppressive tactics routinely seen in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, which are absolutely alien and unacceptable in America. It is an affront to our country’s glorious 246-year legacy of independence from tyranny, for the incumbent president of the United States to leverage the machinery of justice against a political rival. Such an act of absolute disrespect echoes despotism, making it fundamentally at odds with American democratic values,” Lee’s full statement said.

AP23160674778121.jpg

This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, shows boxes of records on Dec. 7, 2021, in a storage room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that had fallen over with contents spilling onto the floor. Trump is facing 37 felony charges related to the mishandling of classified documents according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9, 2023.

Justice Department via Associated Press

When news first broke of the coming indictment, Lee released a series of tweets and retweets that suggested the charges against Trump are politically motivated.

“Sitting president indicts leading challenger. Totally normal,” Lee wrote in a tweet.

Sen. Mitt Romney also released a statement Friday where he said Trump “brought these charges upon himself” by not responding to Department of Justice requests to return the classified documents.

His full statement reads:

“Like all Americans, Mr. Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The government has the burden of proving its charges beyond a reasonable doubt and securing a unanimous verdict by a South Florida jury.

“By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr. Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others.

“Mr. Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.

“These allegations are serious and if proven, would be consistent with his other actions offensive to the national interest, such as withholding defensive weapons from Ukraine for political reasons and failing to defend the Capitol from violent attack and insurrection.”

Romney voted twice to impeach Trump and has been a frequent critic of his actions.

AP23160646034425.jpg

Former President Donald Trump attends an event with supporters at the Westside Conservative Breakfast, in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, June 1, 2023. Trump described a Pentagon “plan of attack” and shared a classified map related to a military operation, according to an indictment unsealed Friday, June 9. The document marks the Justice Department’s first official confirmation of a criminal case against Trump arising from the retention of hundreds of documents at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.

Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press