Trump VP contenders rush to his defense on opening day of trial

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A handful of vice presidential hopefuls rushed to former President Trump’s defense Monday as Trump attended the opening day of his hush money trial in New York City.

Several lawmakers who Trump has said are on his shortlist or are believed to be in contention as a possible running mate for the 2024 ticket went on the attack on the former president’s behalf, echoing Trump campaign talking points that the New York City proceedings amounted to “election interference” led by Democrats.

“What the radical Left is doing is not just election interference, it’s election engineering,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), one of the top contenders to be Trump’s running mate, wrote on the social platform X.

“They will try everything (and fail) to stop Donald J Trump,” Scott added.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), another lawmaker whose name has been mentioned as a potential running mate, decried the judge handling the case as “corrupt” and a “Biden donor whose family member has profited off this case.” She called the proceedings a “6-8 week show trial… Total election interference.”

Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) also called the trial “election interference” and called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s handling of the case “a disgrace to the rule of law and the opposite of Justice.”

And North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who Trump has said could be a vice presidential contender, went on CNN as Trump arrived at the courthouse Monday morning to defend the former president.

“The American people understand this is an unprecedented attack on a candidate during a political year,” Burgum said. “If this was any other business person in America, this would not be a trial, and it wouldn’t be on the front page, and it wouldn’t be historic and unprecedented because it would’ve never been filed as a felony.”

The outcry from Trump allies underscores the near-constant jockeying among those who are being considered to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, given his emphasis on unflinching loyalty. It also reflects how Trump and his team will rely on other Republicans to go on the attack while the former president is tied up in court for four days a week for the next several weeks.

Trump made history Monday as the first former or current U.S. president to ever face a criminal trial in a case. Jury selection is expected to last several days before opening arguments begin.

The former president is charged in the case with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to reimbursements to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid adult film actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump, which he denies.

Trump has denied wrongdoing.

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