Congress enters 'dangerous' territory as Trump indicted

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

Members of Congress reacted to news of former President Trump's indictment by a Manhattan grand jury with a mixture of shock, outrage, fear, uncertainty and celebration.

Why it matters: It's the first time in U.S. history a former president has been indicted — a shock to the 2024 election and a move likely to harden pro- and anti-Trump sentiments well beyond Washington.

What they're saying: Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), channeling concerns of lawmakers about potential violence in response to the indictment, told Axios: "Going to be dangerous days ahead."

  • "No one in this country is above the law — including former President Trump," progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, calling for a measure to "ensure Trump is banned from running for any public office."
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a vocal Trump foe and former House Intelligence Committee chair, said in a statement that "this step, while unprecedented, is also deeply and fundamentally necessary to preserve the rule of law."

The other side: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the Trump-backing chair of the Judiciary Committee who has been running point on an investigation into Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, had a one word response: "Outrageous."

  • “Alvin Bragg just single-handedly secured Donald Trump the 2024 presidential election," conservative Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Axios.
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a more establishment-minded Republican, said the indictment "doesn't pass the smell test" and said Congress has "every right" to investigate the Manhattan DA's decision-making.
  • Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), another conservative, said the indictment is "clearly an attempt to intimidate President Trump and influence the upcoming 2024 elections."

The intrigue: At least one more moderate House Republican is taking a wait-and-see approach to the indictment.

  • "I trust our legal system," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios, "There’s checks and balances with a jury, judges and appeals. President Trump will be able to make his defense and we’ll all see if this is a partisan prosecution or not."
  • Asked about concerns of violence, Bacon said, "I defend peaceful protest. I doubt it will get violent, but if it does those [people] should be held legally accountable."

What caught our eye: Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a close Trump ally, is already fundraising off the anger around the indictment.

  • "THIS JUST IN: PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS BEEN INDICTED," reads a text from his campaign, calling it "unfair on so many levels."
  • The text includes a link to a WinRed page that says Trump was indicted "for being a patriot."

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