Georgia Republicans condemn Trump charges; Democrats support them

Former President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida. Trump is facing charges on seven felonies in the case involving the handling of classified documents. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Former President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida. Trump is facing charges on seven felonies in the case involving the handling of classified documents. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Minutes after learning that her friend and ally, former President Donald Trump, was facing criminal charges, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted a long missive on Twitter accusing the federal government and Democrats of conspiring to defeat Trump in next year’s presidential contest.

“Democrats must literally shake with sweats when they see amazing packed out Trump rallies and overwhelming winning poll numbers week after week,” she wrote. “They must awake in the night with panic at the thoughts of us winning in 2024.”

Greene noted that she and other members of the House Oversight Committee reviewed a document earlier Thursday outlining a whistleblower’s allegations that President Joe Biden, during the time he served as vice president, accepted bribes from a foreign entity. By charging Trump instead of focusing on Biden’s controversies, the government had failed its people, Greene wrote.

Still, the Rome Republican finished on a hopeful note, writing: “Ultimately, we win in the end.”

Greene was among dozens of Republican U.S. House members who quickly lined up to defend Trump as the news of his indictment spread.

So did U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, who is building a reputation as one of the House’s most conservative members.

“President Trump’s indictment isn’t just a dangerous display of our two-tiered system of justice and weaponized government,” the Athens Republican wrote on his Twitter page. “It’s election interference.”

Freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, a Jackson Republican, weighed in with posts on his personal and official Twitter accounts. One post said: “I can actually hear Trump’s poll numbers going higher. BANANA REPUBLIC!”

From his congressional Twitter, Collins wrote that in light of the indictment he would support abolishing the FBI and the Justice Department.

There were fewer state-level Republicans willing to weigh in publicly, even those who are closely aligned with Trump such as Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer.

Reaction from Democrats was not widespread either, although those who released statements generally supported the case moving forward. Among them was state Rep. Scott Holcomb of Atlanta.

“I had a top secret clearance when I was in the Army,” he said. “No one who is serious about national security can defend how Trump handled our nation’s classified secrets.”

Many Republicans stated, without evidence, that Biden was behind the call to bring charges against Trump, the man he beat in 2020. Congressman Rich McCormick, the freshman from Suwanee, was among them.

“I am appalled, but not surprised, by the length this Administration will go to harm political foes and advance its radical agenda,” he said on Twitter. “Charging a political opponent with a crime is something they do in banana republics — not America.”

A representative in a neighboring district, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, was among the many Democrats pushing back against those assertions. He replied to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s statement that made similar allegations.

“POTUS didn’t indict Trump, a grand jury of Trump’s peers in FL did,” Johnson said, using abbreviations for the president and Trump’s home state, Florida. “You know this, but you and your party continue to spread misinformation.”

Friday, Rep. Nikema Williams struck a similar tone in her own post.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire, cop, or even the Former President of the United States,” she wrote. “NO ONE is above the law. The law applies to EVERYONE equally.”

Rep. Austin Scott took a different approach than many GOP members. Without naming names, he stated that if Trump is facing charges for harboring classified documents then others should as well.

“There can be no double standard regarding the mishandling of classified materials,” the Tifton Republican said. “Unless the indictment of Trump is politically motivated, the DOJ will apply the same standard to other government officials who illegally had classified documents, and more indictments will follow.”