GOP politicians rush to Manhattan to rally behind Trump as hush-money lawsuit continues. • Ohio Capital Journal

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers are taking turns supporting former president and presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in his trial in Manhattan criminal court, where he is accused of covering up payments intended to silence porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 elections.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, dressed in navy blue suits and red ties, seen as a 2024 vice presidential candidate, former Republican Party hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy and U.S. Reps. Byron Donalds, and Cory Mills of Florida entered the courtroom behind Trump on Tuesday morning, according to reporters present. Outside, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, held a news conference.

The entourage followed Monday’s appearances by U.S. Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, another candidate on Trump’s shortlist for vice president, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, as well as the appearance last week by U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida. .

Tuesday’s show of solidarity came as the prosecution’s star witness and former Trump fixer Michael Cohen took the stand for a second day to testify that Trump had agreed to forge the refund to Cohen of $130,000 of his own money that Cohen had paid to Daniels on the eve of the presidential election. 2016 elections.

Jurors again saw checks signed by Trump and heard from Cohen about instructions from Trump associates to submit false invoices for “legal services rendered.” Cohen also described a February 2017 Oval Office meeting in which he discussed the refund with Trump, according to reporters at the courthouse.

New York does not allow courtroom recordings but provides public transcripts of the proceedings.

Cohen last week followed high-profile and detailed testimony from adult film actress and director Daniels about her alleged sex affair with Trump in 2006, an event he denies.

Trump faces 34 felony counts for each allegedly falsified business record related to his reimbursement to Cohen – 11 invoices, 11 checks and 12 general ledger entries.

A ‘sham’ to ‘keep him off the campaign trail’

On the sidewalk, Johnson — second in line for presidential succession after the vice president — told reporters he wanted to “call out what a mockery of justice is.”

With a sarcastic chuckle and gesture toward the location of the New York County Supreme Court on Center Street in Lower Manhattan, Johnson complained about having to speak to the media outside “because the court won’t allow us to speak inside the building. That’s just one of the many things going wrong here.”

It is worth noting that surrogates routinely make comments outside the courthouses.

Johnson framed what he called a “sham trial” as a conspiracy to thwart Trump’s reelection campaign — despite recent New York Times/Siena College polling showing the former president leading in several swing states.

“This is the fifth week that President Trump has been in court for this sham trial,” Johnson said. “They are doing this deliberately to keep him here and keep him off the campaign trail, and I think everyone in the country can see that for what it is.”

The trial takes place on weekdays except Wednesdays.

Trump hit the campaign trail Saturday at a rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, where he spoke for 90 minutes, criticizing the New York trial, repeating false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election and calling the “late, great” fictional cannibal serial killer called Hannibal Lecter “a great man,” and thanked the six U.S. Supreme Court justices – three of whom he appointed – for overturning Roe v. Wade.

‘Election interference’

Trump’s allies echoed Johnson’s earlier comments at their own news conference later outside the courthouse, calling the trial a “scam” and a “joke,” according to reporters at the scene.

Ramaswamy reportedly compared the courtroom to a “Kafka novel” and called it “one of the most depressing places I have been in my life.” He said the prosecutor’s strategy is “to bully jurors into submission.”

In a video of the press conference he posted on

Burgum characterized the lawsuit as “election interference” in the 2024 race. Meanwhile, Trump’s critics say the lawsuit is squarely about 2016 election interference.

Mills said that “what was the Department of Justice, now the Department of Injustice, is still being used against the American people.”

The charges Trump is now facing do not come from the U.S. Department of Justice, but rather from a New York State grand jury investigation.

Trump’s two federal cases are in a holding pattern as the U.S. Supreme Court primarily deliberates Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from criminal charges he planned to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election. The second, focused on Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents after his presidency, has been indefinitely suspended by federal District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida.

The New York trial is expected to resume Thursday with further cross-examination of Cohen by Trump lawyer Todd Blanche.