GREENSBORO, N.C. — Despite an indictment full of details about Donald Trump’s alleged schemes to keep top secret files in violation of a grand jury subpoena, Trump’s leading GOP rival, Ron DeSantis, never once mentioned the 37-point document , which could send the former president to prison during a speech Friday night to North Carolina Republicans.
Florida’s governor didn’t hint at the issue at all and introduced the topic by reverting to the old standby of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which turned out to be the host of some classified documents.
“My God, as a naval officer, if I had taken classified information on my phone, I would have been court-martialed in a minute in New York,” he said. “Yet they don’t seem to care about it. Is there a different standard for a Democrat Secretary of State versus a former Republican President? I think there should be one standard of justice in this country.
DeSantis, who has gleefully attacked Trump over his handling of COVID, his failure to build a wall along the southern U.S. border and other hot-button issues for the Republican core voting base, appears reluctant to mention an issue that could make Trump unelectable in the general election. elections.
After Trump was indicted in New York in March on charges that he falsified business records to hide a $130,000 payment to a porn star, DeSantis first noted that he had no experience in hush money payments. But after facing criticism for not joining the general Republican condemnation of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis lined up and announced that he would refuse to turn Trump over for prosecution if asked.
“Florida will not cooperate with an extradition request given the dubious circumstances surrounding this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.” De Santis wrote in a post on Twitter.
On Thursday night, two hours and 32 minutes after Trump announced on his personal social media platform that he was indicted, DeSantis joined pro-Trump voices complaining about unequal justice.
“Why so zealous in going after Trump but so passive about Hillary or Hunter? The DeSantis administration will seek accountability from the DOJ, eliminate political bias, and end gunfire once and for all.” the Florida governor wrote.
DeSantis was the guest speaker at Friday’s “Old North Country Dinner” at the annual North Carolina Republican Convention. Former Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon, and Trump is scheduled to speak Saturday night.
Without taking questions from the roughly 900 people who filled the main ballroom of the Greensboro Sheraton, DeSantis instead spent his 45 minutes on stage delivering his now-familiar goofball speech. He boasted of his “victories” in Florida, including a six-week abortion ban, a ban on “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs at public universities and his more general “war on vigilantes.”
His only cheers came when he boasted about his attack on the Walt Disney Co. for criticizing him and his parental rights in the education bill. “There will be no compromise,” he said.
Coming closest to criticizing Trump, who leads him by double digits in polls, DeSantis alluded to the poor electoral results the party has endured since the former developer and game show host won the White House in 2016.
Republicans lost the House in 2018, both the White House and the Senate in 2020 and, despite expectations of a “red wave,” barely managed to win back the House while actually losing another Senate seat in 2022.
“We have a task ahead of us to shake the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years,” he said. “We must stop wasting elections won.”
Trump faces two other criminal investigations in addition to the two he’s already been charged with: a second investigation by the DOJ into his January 6, 2021 coup attempt; and an investigation of the state of Georgia into his attempt to overturn the election there.
However, he is seeking the presidency again and leads in most GOP polls for 2024.