'He's toast': Growing number of Republicans criticize Trump over documents indictment

Polls show that while Trump support among Republican voters continues to be strong, a growing number say the charges against him are "serious."

Donald Trump
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They are still a distinct minority of their party, but a growing number of Republicans have stepped forward to offer criticism of former President Donald Trump following the unsealing of the Justice Department's indictment relating to his refusal to hand over classified documents after leaving the White House.

Just over three-quarters of Republican voters (76%) said they were concerned that the charges being brought against Trump are politically motivated, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday. Trump has made that claim the centerpiece of his public defense.

"ELECTION INTERFERENCE at a level never seen before in our Country!" he wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Monday.

But Republican backing of Trump, while still strong, appears to be slipping. An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that 38% of Republicans now believe the charges against the former president are “serious,” up from 21% who were asked about the case in early April.

As public opinion continues to be shaped about the indictment, some prominent Republicans — albeit those who have occasionally criticized him before — have stepped forward to do the unthinkable and break with Trump.

Here's a roundup:

Former Attorney General William Barr

William Barr
William Barr, attorney general during the Trump administration. (Jeff Roberson/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Much to Trump’s dismay, his own former attorney general William Barr has been giving interviews on Fox News about the indictment. On Sunday he said the following: “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast. It’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning.”

Barr also shot down the notion that Trump was being unfairly treated. “He’s not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents,” Barr said.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley at a town hall in Ankeny, Iowa, May 17. (Charlie Neibergall/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In a Monday interview with Fox News, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination, said Trump put Americans serving in the U.S. military “in danger.”

“If this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security,” she said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Sen. Lisa Murkowski. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Shortly after the Justice Department unsealed the indictment against Trump, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska called the charges “quite serious,” adding that “mishandling classified documents is a federal crime because it can expose national secrets, as well as the sources and methods they were obtained through.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney. (Alex Brandon/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Another longtime foe of Trump’s, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, again broke ranks from his party and praised the Justice Department’s handling of the case.

“By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr. Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others,” he said in a statement, adding, “Mr. Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Chris Christie
Former New Jersey governor and current GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie. (Charles Krupa/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In a Friday interview with CNN, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also challenging Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, called the indictment “devastating.”

“It’s a very, very evidence-filled indictment,” Christie said.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu

Gov. Chris Sununu speaking in New York City.
Gov. Chris Sununu speaking in New York City on April 25. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time) (Jemal Countess via Getty Images)

In a Sunday interview on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu predicted a guilty verdict.

“They’re very real, they’re self-inflicted, this is nothing like we’ve ever — anything we’ve seen before,” Sununu said of the allegations. “And there’s very likely, I think, going to come down to some type of guilty verdict on the [former] president, at least on some of these charges.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson
Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson campaigning in Clive, Iowa, April 22. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson via Getty Images)

In a statement, former Arkansas Gov. and current Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson said Trump should “end his campaign” because of the indictment.

“These are serious allegations that are relevant in this campaign and should not be dismissed lightly,” he said in an interview on Saturday with CNN.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. (Sue Ogrocki/AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Over the weekend, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt became the the first GOP governor to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump's rival in the Republican presidential primary. While Stitt did not mention the indictment specifically, he made clear that he thinks DeSantis is more electable than Trump.

“I really believe that we need somebody that can beat Joe Biden, and I think Ron DeSantis is the guy,” Stitt said, adding that it is “time to turn the page.”