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BREAKING: Hunter Biden indicted on 9 tax-related charges, including 3 felony counts

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a political in Bedford, N.H.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a political in Bedford, N.H., on May 19, 2023.Robert F. Bukaty / AP file

Eyes on 2024: Trump’s GOP rivals react to the indictment

Some of Trump's rivals have responded to his indictment by criticizing the Justice Department.

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News that former President Donald Trump was indicted for his handling of classified documents has not caused the rest of the GOP primary field to take aim at Trump – at least not yet, NBC News’ Allan Smith and Henry J. Gomez report. 

Just former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was willing to criticize the former president, again calling on Trump to drop out of the race. Others criticized the Justice Department or stayed quiet. Here are some of the notable reactions so far: 

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation. Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter? The DeSantis administration will bring accountability to the DOJ, excise political bias and end weaponization once and for all.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. on Fox News: “Every person is presumed innocent, not guilty, and what we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against the former president.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement: “This is a sad day for our country. While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign.” 

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy said in a statement: “This is an affront to every citizen: we cannot devolve into a banana republic where the party in power uses police force to arrest its political opponents. It’s hypocritical for the DOJ to selectively prosecute Trump but not Biden … I commit to pardon Trump promptly on January 20, 2025 and to restore the rule of law in our country.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted“We don’t get our news from Trump’s Truth Social account. Let’s see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released. As I have said before, no one is above the law, no matter how much they wish they were. We will have more to say when the facts are revealed.”

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted Friday: "This is not how justice should be pursued in our country. The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics. It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions."

Former Vice President Mike Pence had been scheduled to appear on Fox News Thursday night to discuss his campaign, but NBC News’ Dasha Burns reports that Pence’s team and Fox’s team both decided to reschedule the interview once the program became dedicated to Trump’s indictment. 

On Friday Pence joined Hugh Hewitt's radio show and said: "I think it’s important to note that we don’t know the facts in this case. No one does. But you know, after years of politicization at the Justice Department, two and a half years in our administration where we fought against the Russia hoax that the Durham report recently confirmed, was an investigation that should never even been started. ... Look, as I said, I had hoped the DOJ would see its way clear to resolve this without an indictment. I think this is going to be terribly divisive for the country. I also think it sends a terrible message to the wider world that looks at America as a standard of not only democracy, but of justice. But now we’ll look forward."

In other campaign news…

It’s over when it’s over: As the probes into former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence’s handling of classified information appear to be nearing the end, the investigation into President Joe Biden does not appear to be on the same timeline, NBC News’ Carol E. Lee, Monica Alba and Michael Kosner report. 

AI has arrived: Trump’s allies criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign for sharing images of Trump embracing Dr. Anthony Fauci, which appeared to be made through artificial intelligence, the New York Times reports. 

Pence’s friends go right at Trump: new ad from the pro-Pence super PAC highlights the role the former vice president played in certifying the 2020 election, contrasting him with Trump directly by saying, “A weak man appeases a mob. A man of courage and character stands up to them.” 

Chief fundraiser: Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff helped raise more than $400,000 for DeSantis’ campaign following his launch, NBC News’ Matt Dixon reports. Dixon writes that this is “an unusual instance of a highly influential taxpayer-funded aide’s doubling as a top political bundler. And part of the way he raised that money was by having other government officials help him solicit cash from lobbyists.”

DeSantis gets the Oklahoma OK: DeSantis secured the endorsement of former GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstein and 20 Oklahoma state lawmakers, including the House majority leader, according to The Hill

A jump ball in the Beehive State: Trump and DeSantis are virtually tied in a new poll of Utah Republican voters, with no other candidate in double digits.  

Burg-mentum: North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum’s presidential campaign placed more than $2.5 million in advertising time in Iowa and New Hampshire, per AdImpact.