Under the Dome: What do North Carolina lawmakers think of the Trump indictment news?
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Happy Friday! Danielle here, again. Are you tired of hearing that former President Donald Trump could be indicted any day now? So are we.
DC correspondents have been on high-alert all week waiting for the grand jury to hand over their decision that Trump promised would be coming Tuesday. And yet…
…we’re still waiting.
Prewrites are written.
Security perimeters have been established around both the Manhattan courthouse and the U.S. Capitol in case his supporters take him up on his calls to protest.
And our fingers are waiting to type whatever reaction pieces we need to once a decision has been handed down.
Have I mentioned we’re still waiting?
Now, if you’re one of the lucky few who have no idea what I’m talking about, you should know that Trump announced last Saturday that he would be arrested Tuesday on charges related to allegations that he paid off a porn star ahead of the 2016 election to keep her quiet about a tryst they had in 2006.
I’ll give Trump this. He knows how to make us all stop, look and talk.
A conference for Republican lawmakers in Orlando, Florida, was completely derailed by the news, and all anyone talked about for days was Trump.
Some of that talk came unprompted from lawmakers.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, tweeted, “Here we go again — an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.”
McCarthy added that he directed relevant committees to investigate if federal funds were used to “subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.”
Rep. Richard Hudson responded saying he agreed with McCarthy and that it was outrageous.
“This is a Soros-backed, out-of-control prosecutor focused on a ridiculous, politically-motivated prosecution instead of fighting the crime wave in his own city.” Hudson tweeted.
Hudson leads the National Republican Congressional Committee and lives in Southern Pines. If you’re not one of his constituents and he sounds familiar, he’s the guy who grabbed a colleague by the mouth to stop him from lunging on Rep. Matt Gaetz in a tense moment during the House speaker election in January. It was all over the news.
Other lawmakers were inundated with questions by reporters when making media appearances or roaming the halls of the Capitol building. (Sorry, senators).
It happened to Rep. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat from Charlotte when he appeared on Fox News Live.
After being asked, as a former prosecutor, about the charges Trump could be facing, Jackson was asked what members of Congress were saying about a possible Trump indictment.
“That this feels like a long time coming,” Jackson said. “That everyone deserves their day in court and that no one is above the law.”
It happened again when I ran into Sen. Ted Budd, a Republican from Davie County, as he climbed off the subway between the Russell Building and the U.S. Capitol. Budd told me to reach out to his spokesman for a statement on Trump.
“Since there’s been no indictment yet, Senator Budd doesn’t have long-form comments, but he is very concerned by the hyper-partisan nature of Mr. Bragg’s process,” said Curtis Kalin, Budd’s spokesman.
Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from Huntersville, arrived in the U.S. Capitol via another subway from the Dirksen Building a few moments later.
“We in Congress probably ought to be above the level of the substance, but I think it’s fair to ask the question, ‘Why now?’” Tillis said.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s predecessor chose not to pursue charges against Trump, and Tillis questioned why Bragg, who took over the office in 2022, waited until now to bring it up.
“It could be that the facts have changed, but at the same time, if the facts are being reviewed by the same person, and it’s a different position, was there a political motivation?” Tillis asked.
Tillis said the evidence will reveal whether the district attorney has new information that raised this case to a level to be prosecuted, or whether this is politically motivated.
OTHER STORIES FROM THE TEAM THIS WEEK
It is Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan’s favorite time of the year. The N.C. House plans to release its budget next week. She tells you what to expect.
State Auditor Beth Wood pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge. And two men face charges this week for their alleged involvement in Wood’s crash. Avi Bajpai tells you more about Wood’s plea and the new charges.
Did the Trump indictment remind you of the John Edwards trial? You weren’t alone. I break down the similarities.
North Carolina House Republicans approved limits to how racism and sexism are taught. Keung Hui breaks down what this means and the chances of the bill becoming law.
A Raleigh Christmas parade driver now faces an involuntary manslaughter charge after a 9-year-old girl was killed. Jessica Banov and Colleen Hammond explain why.
Thanks for reading. See you next week. In the meantime, tune into our stories, our tweets and our Under the Dome podcast for more developments.
— By Danielle Battaglia, reporter for The News & Observer. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.