‘Angry’ Trump focused on taking down DeSantis as expected indictment looms
Former President Donald Trump wants to take down Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) himself as allies rush to defend Trump against a potential indictment and condemn the man seen as his chief rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
High-profile Trump supporters are swiping at the Florida governor over his muted response as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office weighs charges against the former president in a case involving alleged hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
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“The president is very, very angry with all of these people. He does not need these proxies,” a former campaign adviser said. “If he’s going to take out Ron DeSantis politically, then he will be the one doing it.”
This person added, “He will not be giving credit to anyone — he doesn’t need surrogates to take out Ron DeSantis. Donald Trump will take out Ron DeSantis all by himself.”
DeSantis, a prominent swing state governor that many Republicans hope will run for president in 2024, is not expected to make a formal move until the summer. His stance has yielded sharper scrutiny from Trump and other potential rivals in the race.
Prominent supporters such as political activists Jack Posobiec, Alex Bruesewitz, and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. have pressed DeSantis to condemn the potential indictment as a politically motivated witch hunt. Others have rallied behind Trump’s call to “take our nation back.”
After Trump suggested on the Truth Social site that his supporters take to the streets in the event of an indictment, Ali Alexander, an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rallies that followed the 2020 presidential election, indicated that he supported a mass demonstration.
Instead, the public jousting by supporters of Trump and DeSantis allows DeSantis to keep his powder dry, a source suggested.
“This is becoming a proxy battle between the Lisa Boothes and the John Cardillos and the Buck Sextons of the world,” this person said, dismissing some voices as being “paid to put a ring of protection around Ron DeSantis.”
By contrast, close Trump allies, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have declined to back the push for civil unrest. Hundreds of riots police officers have been mobilized in anticipation, with pictures Monday showing barricades placed near a courthouse in lower Manhattan.
“We don’t need to protest about the Communists Democrat’s planning to arrest Pres Trump,” Greene tweeted. “These idiots are sealing their own fate in 2024.”
While the indictment is expected to bolster Trump within the Republican field, some close to Trump worry the protests could damage the former president politically if violence erupts.
On Monday, DeSantis broke his silence on the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office weighing charges against Trump in the Daniels hush money case.
After Trump warned he could be arrested Tuesday, DeSantis called the case a “manufactured circus.” The governor added, “I’ve got real issues to deal with.”
DeSantis’s quip set off a wave of condemnation, with Trump Jr. accusing the governor of acting as a stooge for the Republican establishment.
“Now we know why he was silent all weekend. He’s totally owned by Karl Rove, Paul Ryan & his billionaire donors,” Trump Jr. said. “100% Controlled Opposition.”
In response, the former president teased the notion that DeSantis may soon wish to “fight” back against “false accusations” of his own in a post to Truth Social, replacing an initial swipe with a second sharper message.
Trump has swiped at DeSantis repeatedly in recent weeks, maligning the former congressman as a member of “the Paul Ryan Republican establishment” as he works to discredit the governor’s record. Trump claimed DeSantis would be working “at a law firm or maybe a Pizza Hut” absent his endorsement in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
Others seeking an edge in the race for themselves or a favored candidate have jumped on DeSantis.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a candidate for the Republican nomination, pressed DeSantis to condemn Trump’s potential indictment, speculating that some aspiring rivals may be “quietly celebrating.” Ramaswamy called on fellow candidate Nikki Haley to join.
In an email blast with the subject line “Ron DeSantis’ No Good, Very Bad Week,” a super PAC backing Haley tweaked DeSantis over the changing pronunciation of his name and comments on Ukraine.
“Last week was a messy one for Ron DeSantis — and he hasn’t launched his presidential campaign yet!” the group wrote.
Polls show DeSantis, a favorite of Republicans in Washington, consolidating support in the race, trailed by other Republicans in the race or mulling a run.
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Trump’s aides have been watching the field closely, “monitoring to see how many people are peeling off from the donor base,” a source said last month.
DeSantis emerged as Trump’s strongest potential rival after Florida Republicans swept to victory in the midterm election, defying Republicans’ lackluster results and drawing interest from wealthy donors looking to move beyond Trump.