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Eyes on 2024: Rivals react to Trump’s possible indictment

Former Vice President Mike Pence said an indictment would be "divisive," while Asa Hutchinson called on Trump to drop out of the race.

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Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys were informed on Monday that Trump is the target of a special counsel investigation into his handling of classified documents, NBC News’ Laura Jarrett and Adam Reiss reported Wednesday. 

Jarrett and Reiss have a helpful explainer on what that means, noting that a target is “someone prosecutors believe committed a crime,” and while the target of an investigation is not subpoenaed, he or she is invited to testify. They also write, “Recipients of target letters are often, but not always, indicted.”

It remains to be seen how Trump’s rivals for the GOP presidential primary could react if he is actually indicted, but former Vice President Mike Pence offered a preview during a town hall on CNN Wednesday night. 

Pence said an indictment “would be terribly divisive to the country,” per NBC News’ Abby Brooks and Alec Hernandez.

“Indicting a former president of the United States sends a terrible message to the world. I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves those issues without an indictment,” Pence said. 

But former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a sharp Trump critic, also weighed in, tweeting, “The @GOPshould clarify that there is no pledge to support a nominee if they are found guilty of espionage or a serious felony,” referring to the Republican National Committee’s debate requirement. 

“Donald Trump is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation and he should step aside & put the good of the country above his candidacy,” Hutchinson added.

In other campaign news…

Another one and another one: Pence and North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum announced their presidential bids Wednesday, with Pence rebuking Trump directly and Burgum pitched himself as a man of the people, “someone who’s held jobs where you shower at the end of the day, not at the beginning.” 

Pence gets a little help from his friends: Committed to America PAC, a super PAC backing former Vice President Mike Pence, is spending $190,00 on TV ads in Iowa, per AdImpact data. 

Heading down to the border: NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez, Bianca Seward and Nnamdi Egwuonwu report on Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ surprise trip to the southern border, where he defended his state’s controversial flights of migrants to places like California because “they have bragged that they are sanctuary cities.” 

They’re not asking: The federal grand jury working on the investigation surrounding former President Trump and his allies’ actions surrounding the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol has subpoenaed former Trump official and confidante Steve Bannon, per NBC News’ Jonathan Dienst, Laura Jarrett and Ryan J. Reilly.

Almost heaven: Trump has won the backing of 50 West Virginia state lawmakers, per Politico

Name-calling: Trump and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are continuing their war of words, with Trump making fun of Christie on social media and Christie telling Fox News Trump is “juvenile” and “a baby.” 

Early bird gets the vote: The Republican National Committee launched a new initiative on Wednesday to encourage Republican voters to cast their ballots early, even though Trump has suggested early voting is rife with fraud, per NBC News’ Allan Smith. 

A competitive Democratic primary brewing: St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell is running for Senate in Missouri as a Democrat, setting up a primary with military veteran Lucas Kunce as they hope for the chance to run against Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. 

Special election looms in Utah: Republican Rep. Chris Stewart has informed Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox that he’ll resign in mid-September, an announcement that means Cox has to call for a special election within the next week, per KSL-TV