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Mike Johnson and Vivek Ramaswamy: Republicans flock to court to show they stand with Trump

When Donald Trump's criminal trial began, his courtroom entourage consisted of a group of lawyers and campaign aides. This week, it's starting to look like a preview of July's Republican National Convention.

With Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and key prosecution witness, on the stand, the number of senior Republican officials in attendance increased significantly.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, America's top Republican, met the former president in the Manhattan courtroom and greeted him with a smile and a nod. Then, while the hush money trial was still underway, he made a brief statement to the foreign press.

“I’m disgusted by what’s happening here, by what’s happening to our entire justice system,” he said.

Trump denies 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a secret payment to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. New York prosecutors are using a new legal theory to argue that the alleged cover-up amounts to electoral interference.

Johnson called the lawsuit a "sham" and a "disgrace," said Cohen had proven himself to be a liar and claimed Trump was targeted by his political opponents to keep him out of the then-presidential campaign. that he was trying to win back the White House. a house. He even bragged about the size of the crowd at Trump's campaign rally Saturday in New Jersey.

It was a dramatic show of support from America's second-in-command, coming just a week after Johnson survived a challenge to his congressional leadership from within his own party - a challenge that failed, in part because Johnson repeatedly argued in favor of Trump.

If the mutually beneficial relationship between Trump and Johnson was on full display Tuesday, it symbolized how intertwined Trump's legal fate and that of the Republican Party were in this election year.

A procession of US senators, members of Congress, senior Republican officials and campaign aides march behind the former president every morning, as a sign of political unity.

Many sat behind the former president in the courtroom or nodded as he made his impromptu press statements before and after the day's trial.

They also held their own press conferences, during which they directly challenged the veracity of prosecution witnesses and questioned the political motivations of the presiding judge's family. These are the topics Trump is barred from discussing due to a court-ordered silence order and which the former president was fined 10 times for violating. Further transgressions could land him in prison for contempt of court.

Some Republicans, such as Senators Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Rick Scott of Florida, as well as several state-level officials, appear content to use their presence to curry favor with their party leader and share some of the attention generated by the trial.

Others may have more pressing concerns.

This week, several vice presidential candidates joined Trump in the courtroom. Dignitaries include Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida, former Republican presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

On Tuesday, the final three occupied the first row of seats behind Trump in the courtroom, as if waiting for their turn to audition for the party's presidential ticket. (They had left by mid-morning, perhaps more interested in the cameras outside the courtroom than the testimony inside.)

Trump's criminal trial is uncharted territory, and there is no guide for how members of a political party should treat their former boss — and current presumptive presidential candidate — sitting in the dock.

In the first days of the trial, few Republicans were present. But after Senator Scott's appearance last week, the trickle turned into a flood, further blurring the lines between the political and the legal within the New York court.

If there was any doubt that Trump's impeachment trial would turn into a political spectacle, that question has now been firmly answered – and the proceedings are far from over.


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