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Republican leaders, Trump loyalists rally behind former president after criminal indictment

Former US President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, US November 7, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

Senior Republican politicians and other supporters of Donald Trump have rallied behind the former US president after he was indicted by a Manhattan court in New York City.

Trump loyalists erupted in outrage after Trump's Indictment on Thursday, describing the judge's probe into numerous fraud charges, and in particular, a hush-money case, as politically motivated.

His supporters gathered outside his Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to show their support for the former president after his indictment. Those at the rally included Jill Cohen, a Florida resident and author, Miami resident Maurice Symonette, and a woman who identified herself as "Maga Mary".

The indictment has been filed under seal and will be announced in the coming days. The charges are not publicly known at this time. However, Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

The move to indict Trump is of historic significance as no former president has ever been indicted on criminal charges.

The Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump on more than 30 criminal charges related to business fraud, according to Trump's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, as well as other sources familiar with the matter.

One of the cases, in particular, is related to the cover-up of a hush money payment to adult movies actress Stormy Daniels back in 2016.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been investigating the former president for his alleged role in the hush money payment.

According to Daniels, she and Trump had a sexual encounter and he paid her $130,000 through his former lawyer before the 2016 US presidential election in exchange for her silence about the affair.

Paying money to people for confidentiality is not illegal in the US. However, Trump's payment was made a month before the presidential election, and his opponents argue that the money was paid out of election donations which amounts to a campaign violation.

The former president of the United States has denied both the affair and any violations of campaign laws. However, he also acknowledged paying the $130,000 hush money to his former lawyer.

Following the news of the indictment, Trump released a statement claiming it was “Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.”

“I believe this Witch-Hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden,” Trump said. “The American people realize exactly what the Radical Left Democrats are doing here. Everyone can see it. So our Movement and our Party – united and strong – will first defeat Alvin Bragg, and then we will defeat Joe Biden, and we are going to throw every last one of these Crooked Democrats out of office so we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is thought to be strongly considering a 2024 presidential run, called the indictment "an un-American" move. "The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head," DeSantis tweeted.

He accused the Manhattan District Attorney of being under the influence of Democratic billionaire George Soros, as well as "stretching the law to target a political opponent."

DeSantis said he would side with Trump on the matter. "Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda," he said.

In past days, conservative-leaning media have accused Bragg of receiving payments from Soros to indict Trump.

Political analysts predicted that the indictment would put Trump in the spotlight once more and could potentially boost his election chances by focusing all the public attention back on the former president.

Trump will try to turn his indictment to his advantage by stoking anger among core supporters over what they see as the weaponization of the justice system, analysts said.

"They've done nothing but harass this guy," said Gregg Hough, chair of the Republican party in Belknap County, New Hampshire, predicting the prosecution will boost Trump support "to the moon" if it fails to deliver a convincing conviction.

Meanwhile, anti-Trumpists have planned a rally for Friday on the steps of the Massachusetts State House in Beacon Hill in support of the indictment.

According to a media advisory, the rally has been scheduled to happen at noontime and people will be holding signs that say “Not Above the Law."

"As Americans, we deserve leaders who follow the law, act honorably in our interests and govern in our name," the advisory for the rally said.

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