GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy doubled down on his claim that he would vote for former President Donald Trump if he's convicted and if the former commander-in-chief is also the Republican presidential nominee.
During an appearance on ABC News' "This Week," Mr. Ramaswamy was asked about whether he thinks its "okay for a convicted felon to be president," referring to President Trump's four cases. He responded by saying that the prosecutions against the former president are instead “downright politicized persecutions.”
“I do not want to see us become a ‘banana republic’ where the administrative police state uses police force to eliminate opponents from competition,” Mr. Ramaswamy, who is now consistently polling in third place behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said. “That’s not the way it works.”
With the GOP nominee, he said, “I will pick who I believe the best next president should be. I’m in this race because I believe I can lead us forward and reunite this country but if it’s not me as the nominee, I still expect that Donald Trump or whoever the Republican nominee is will be better than the alternative.”
ABC's George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton White House press secretary, continued to press Mr. Ramaswamy about why he would vote for the former president and again made reference to the multiple cases against him as well as the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
“What I’ve said it’s clear, if Donald Trump’s the nominee, yes, I will support him,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. “And if I’m the president, yes, I will pardon him, because that will help reunite the country, but it’s not the most important thing I’m going to do as the next president.”
In recent days, Mr. Ramaswamy's has seen a bump in the polls after the first GOP debate last week. During that event, hosted by Fox News, he became the focus of multiple attacks by other Republican candidates for his stances on Ukraine, Israel, and other topics.
In four cases---both local and federal---President Trump faces dozens of charges. He's pleaded not guilty to all of them, decrying the investigations as politically motivated witch hunts designed to harm his chances for reelection.
Last week, President Trump pleaded not guilty to charges that were brought by the district attorney's office in Fulton County, Georgia, in relation to alleged election-related actions that he took in the wake of the 2020 contest. Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had served as the former president's lawyer, also pleaded not guilty late last week.
In filing his not guilty plea with the court, the former New York mayor also waived his right to appear at an arraignment hearing set for Sept. 6. He joins the former president and at least 10 others in forgoing a trip to Atlanta to appear before a judge in a packed courtroom with a news camera rolling.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she wants to try all President Trump, Mr. Giuliani, and 17 co-defendants together. But the legal wrangling has already begun in a slew of court filings since the indictment was filed Aug. 14.
Several of those charged have filed motions to be tried alone or with a small group of other defendants, while others are trying to move their proceedings to federal court. Some are seeking to be tried quickly under a Georgia court rule that would have their trials start by early November, while others are already asking the court to extend deadlines.
Due to “the complexity, breadth, and volume of the 98-page indictment,” Mr. Giuliani asked the judge in Friday’s filing to give him at least 30 days after he receives information about witnesses and evidence from prosecutors to file motions. Normally, pretrial motions are to be filed within 10 days after arraignment.
Other than the Georgia case, the former president faces charges in Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to payments made during the 2016 election. The Department of Justice, headed by special counsel Jack Smith, has also brought two separate cases against him---one relating to the 2020 election and the other relating to his alleged mishandling of classified documents.