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Republicans whose races will decide control of Congress rally to Trump

Trump adviser says Hogan ‘ended’ his campaign by urging respect for rule of law

New York Republican Reps. Nick LaLota, center, and Marc Molinaro, right, both defended Trump after his guilty verdict with statements calling it a "political prosecution" and "a perversion of our justice system."
New York Republican Reps. Nick LaLota, center, and Marc Molinaro, right, both defended Trump after his guilty verdict with statements calling it a "political prosecution" and "a perversion of our justice system." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former two-term Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, whose decision to run for Senate was seen as giving Republicans a real shot at flipping a blue-state seat, reacted to Donald Trump’s guilty verdict Thursday by calling for respect for the rule of law and urging people not to “pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship.”

Trump’s senior campaign adviser, Chris LaCivita, responded on X, formerly Twitter, with a blowtorch: “You just ended your campaign.”

Democrats said the verdict would force Republicans to have to answer for Trump’s wrongdoing. But aside from Hogan, many candidates whose races will decide control of the next Congress were almost in a drive to outdo themselves in declaring their outrage at the verdict and support for Trump.

And Trump’s supporters also seemed primed to react: The payment platform for donations to Republican candidates, WinRed, crashed. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin said someone just donated $800,000 to Trump’s joint fundraising committee. 

Tim Sheehy, the likely Republican nominee for Senate in Montana, released a Trumpian statement, tying Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to the team that brought the case against Trump.

“RIGGED! New York v. Donald Trump is state-sponsored political persecution led by the Party of Joe Biden and Jon Tester. WE THE PEOPLE stand with PRESIDENT TRUMP!” Sheehy said.

In the same vein, Bernie Moreno, the Republican vying to oust Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio charged that “Biden and his leftwing allies engaged in election interference.”

Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican who is running for Senate in Michigan, predicted Trump would be cleared on appeal, but warned about “long-term damage” done by “Joe Biden and his allies’ reckless weaponization of our nation’s justice system.”

“It’s been clear that these charges were politically motivated from the beginning, and while thankfully our system of justice doesn’t place all of the power in rabidly-partisan district attorneys, this rigged trial and un-American persecution of President Trump is an indelible stain on our nation,” Rogers said.

House Majority PAC, a super PAC aligned with the Democratic leadership, said that GOP candidates were “standing with a convicted criminal” and “it will cost them the House.”

But some New York Republicans who represent districts that President Joe Biden would have won four years ago attacked Democrats in the state, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the charges.

“Convicting a former President on what amounts to a campaign finance violation in state court after the Federal Election Commission and The Department of Justice both opted not to pursue these same charges tells you all you need to know,” Rep. Mike Lawler said in a statement. “This is a sad day for America.”

Rep. Nick LaLota, who represents a district on Long Island that would have voted for Biden by 1.2 percentage points according to Inside Elections, said on X that Trump’s fate should be “decided by voters, not overzealous politically motivated prosecutors and an imbalanced jury.”

“The best way to unwind Alvin Bragg’s political prosecution and today’s conviction is for Governor Hochul to immediately announce her intention to pardon President Trump and pre-emptively commute any sentence,” LaLota said. 

Rep. Marc Molinaro, another New Yorker, questioned moving politics from the campaign trail to the courthouse. 

“This is a perversion of our justice system,” he said, echoing other Republicans. “The leading contender for the presidency doesn’t belong behind bars. It’s disgraceful, unprecedented, and bad for democracy.” 

Republicans weren’t the only ones using the verdict to score political points.

In a battleground open seat in Southern California, Democrat Dave Min, a law professor, issued a statement saying his Republican opponent, Scott Baugh, “is now officially supporting a convicted felon.”

Also in California, Democrat Will Rollins, a former prosecutor, hammered his Trump-backing Republican opponent, Rep. Ken Calvert. “We deserve a representative who cares more about the 750,000 of us in Riverside County than one convicted felon in New York,” Rollins wrote on X.

This report was corrected to reflect the margin Biden would have received in LaLota’s district in 2020 if current lines were in place.

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