Based on Vanity Fair, on Tuesday afternoon, Congressman Jamaal Bowman approached a group of reporters and photographers gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol, asking who they were waiting for. The answer is Kevin McCarthy, who is said to be meeting with President Joe Biden about the debt. However, his day did not go as planned. That afternoon, a Manhattan jury found former president Donald Trump responsible for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, resulting in a $5 million civil penalty. On top of that, CNN reported that House of Representatives Republican George Santos has been impeached by federal prosecutors in New York. Despite the tumultuous news cycle, McCarthy largely avoided discussing the Trump news, while other Republicans rushed to defend the former president.
During the press conference after the meeting at the White House, a reporter asked McCarthy if he supported both Santos and Trump. McCarthy briefly mentioned Santos but avoided discussing Carroll’s ruling. He announced that he would follow the precedent set with other lawmakers who face indictments, such as Senator Bob Menendez and former Representative Jeff Fortenberry. McCarthy suggests that if Santos is found guilty, he needs to resign, just as he told Fortenberry. (All charges against Menendez were eventually dismissed.) When asked about Trump, McCarthy simply said, “I don’t know. I’ve been to meetings,” before continuing.
However, despite McCarthy’s reluctance to address the situation, other Republicans were quick to defend Trump. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said the ruling made him want to vote for Trump “twice,” while Senator Rick Scott of Florida repeated Trump’s denials. When asked about his support for Trump, Scott replied: “I don’t know the truth. There was also a New York jury.” Other senators also cast doubt on the ruling, just because it was issued in New York. Senator Lindsey Graham declared, “When it comes to Donald Trump, New York’s legal system has gone astray,” while Senator Marco Rubio called the jury and the case itself “a joke. “
Even Mike Pence, who is said to be contemplating running for president in 2024, refrained from condemning Trump on Tuesday. In an interview with NBC News’ Dasha Burns, the former vice president said he had never witnessed or heard of Trump’s conduct during his time serving with him. When asked if Trump’s sexual abuse conviction disqualifies him from running for president again, Pence said that’s the question for the American people.
Sen. Mitt Romney was one of the few Republican voices on Tuesday to publicly criticize Trump following the rape verdict. Romney hopes that the American people will come to the same conclusion as the jury and decide that Trump is unfit to be the presidential candidate. The Wyoming senator declared: “He is not qualified to be president of the United States.” Overall, while McCarthy may have avoided the topic of Trump, the former president’s presence in the news cycle continues to be a hotly debated topic among politicians as well as the public.