Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters gathered at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson | Getty Images
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took aim at the Manhattan district attorney Monday over his expected prosecution of a hush money case against former President Donald Trump.
The Republican governor slammed DA Alvin Bragg as a “Soros-funded prosecutor,” referring to Democratic campaign backer George Soros, but offered little in defense of Trump, who is currently the front-runner in the Republican presidential primary field. DeSantis is widely expected to be gearing up for his own bid to be the party’s nominee in 2024.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just, I can’t, speak to that,” DeSantis said at a news conference, prompting laughter from the audience.
“But what I can speak to is if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda,” he said.
The remarks came as some of Trump’s allies and campaign surrogates have taken note of DeSantis’ silence about the possibility of criminal charges being filed against the former president. Jason Miller, Trump’s senior campaign advisor, referred in a tweet over the weekend to the “radio silence” from DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who launched her own presidential campaign last month.
DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential plans after the current Florida legislative session. Though he has yet to make his campaign official, polls of the potential primary field show him as Trump’s biggest rival for the nomination.
The former president himself has ramped up his attacks on DeSantis in recent weeks, calling him out at rallies and attempting to label him with a derisive nickname. Trump slammed DeSantis over his record on ethanol at a campaign event in Iowa last week.
DeSantis, whose endorsement from Trump in 2018 was seen as a major boon to his first winning gubernatorial bid, has mostly avoided criticizing the former president as he appears to move toward a White House bid.
Asked about Trump’s possible indictment at Monday’s news conference, DeSantis said, “I’ve seen rumors swirl. I have not seen any facts yet. And so, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“But I do know this, the Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor,” DeSantis said, referring to billionaire Soros, who has long drawn antipathy from conservatives. The governor did not offer specifics about the reference, but the New York Post reported that Soros donated to Bragg’s campaign for DA through the Color of Change political action committee. Soros donated $1 million to the PAC in May 2021 when Bragg was running for office, according to the nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets.
Bragg and others like him “weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety,” DeSantis said.
The governor added he has “no interest in getting involved in some manufactured circus by some Soros DA.”
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., lashed out at the governor over that comment.
“So DeSantis thinks that Dems weaponizing the law to indict President Trump is a ‘manufactured circus’ & isn’t a ‘real issue,'” Trump Jr. tweeted. “Pure weakness. Now we know why he was silent all weekend.”