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Potential 2024 GOP Presidential Contender Calls on Trump to Withdraw If Indicted

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A potential 2024 Republican presidential contender has called on former President Donald Trump to drop out of the race if he is indicted on one or more potential charges stemming from several criminal investigations by federal and state authorities.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson this week primarily discussed Trump leaving the race in regards to charges in New York City over allegations he illicitly paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, The Guardian reported.

“It doesn’t mean that he’s guilty of it or he should be charged,” said Hutchinson, who served as governor until earlier this year. “But it’s just such a distraction that would be unnecessary for somebody who’s seeking the highest office in the land.”

In 2018, adult film actress Daniels alleged that she had an affair with Trump in 2006. She claimed that Trump’s then-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid her $130,000 in hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep quiet about the affair.

Trump initially denied any knowledge of the payment, but later admitted to reimbursing Cohen for the settlement. The payment was seen by many as an attempt to influence the outcome of the election and a violation of campaign finance laws. The incident sparked a series of legal battles and investigations, ultimately leading to Cohen’s conviction for campaign finance violations and other crimes.

Hutchinson has yet to announce his candidacy. Currently, Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor, and Trump’s UN ambassador, is the sole declared opponent of Trump from the Republican mainstream, while Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is the only contender in the polling who poses a significant challenge to Trump, The Guardian noted.

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According to numerous reports, an indictment is imminent in the hush money case, the outlet said. Trump has vehemently denied any involvement with Daniels; Cohen testified before a grand jury on Monday.

“My goal is to tell the truth,” Cohen told reporters outside the courthouse, according to the AP.

“This is not revenge,” he added. “This is all about accountability. He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.”

The Guardian noted further:

Trump has also been invited to testify, a sign an indictment is near. The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is reported to be preparing to criminally charge Trump for false accounting business records with an intent to defraud, in relation to New York election law.

Mark Pomerantz, a prosecutor who quit Bragg’s team, recently called the Daniels payment a “zombie case” that would not die.

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But David Shapiro, a former FBI agent who now lectures at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Associated Press it could be “especially difficult” for Bragg to prove intent and knowledge of wrongdoing.

According to Shapiro, Trump is “loud, he’s brash, so proving that he had specific intent to fraud, one is almost left with the idea that, ‘Well, if he has that specific intent of fraud, he has it all of the time, because that’s his personality.’”

As for the former president, he said at the recent CPAC conference this month that he “won’t even think about leaving” the race, as an indictment would “probably … enhance my numbers.”

In an interview with USA Today, Hutchison said that Trump should withdraw “out of respect for the institution of the presidency of the United States. And that’s a distraction [and it] is difficult to run for the highest office in the land under those circumstances.”

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“I know he’s going to say [the charges are] politically motivated and all of those things, but the fact is, there’s just a lot of turmoil out there with the number of investigations going on,” Hutchison continued.

In addition, Trump is under federal investigation for alleged attempts to subvert the 2020 election, incitement of the January 6th riot, and retention of classified records. Additionally, there is an advanced state investigation in Georgia related to post-election actions.

In New York, his business is facing a civil fraud lawsuit and his chief financial officer has already been sentenced on tax charges earlier this year. The former president is also facing a defamation lawsuit from a writer who accused him of rape, which is set to go to trial.

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