After remaining silent over the weekend, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took shots at the "Soros-funded prosecutor" in Manhattan involved in an ongoing hush money case against former President Donald Trump.
“I have no interest in getting involved in some manufactured circus by some Soros-DA,” DeSantis said at a news conference Monday, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “He’s trying to do a political spectacle. He’s trying to virtue signal for his base. I’ve got real issues I got to deal with here in the state of Florida.”
"I don't know what's going to happen but I do know this: the Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor," he added.
DeSantis accused the district attorney of weaponizing his office by going after Trump, charging that the prosecutor had overlooked other, more recent crimes in the meantime.
But even as he echoed the criticism Trump's defenders have leveled at Bragg, DeSantis, the strongest challenger to Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, took great care to repeat the salacious allegations facing the former president.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair, I just, I can’t speak to that," DeSantis said, to laughter in the background. Then, referring to the prosecutor again, he added, "That's an example of pursuing a political agenda."
The comments came after Trump late last week announced that he expected he would be arrested in the ongoing case in Manhattan on Tuesday. Liberal megadonor George Soros, through the Color of Change PAC, supported Bragg's campaign for Manhattan DA.
Trump's team over the weekend made known their disapproval that DeSantis had not commented. The Make America Great Again PAC released a list of statements from other potential 2024 contenders condemning the prosecution, then called out DeSantis' organization for steering clear of the issue.
"Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ PAC sent out an email on COVID-19 policies from three years ago to collect emails and phone numbers for fundraising platform WinRed," a statement from the PAC read. "Governor DeSantis also tweeted Saturday evening about his hurricane response last year."
After DeSantis' comments Monday, a Trump aide, Jason Miller, tweeted: "Somebody got some polling back."
Trump allies quickly criticized the governor on social media over how he laid out the case.
And on Monday afternoon, Trump himself weighed in on his Truth Social platform, suggesting that DeSantis could, at some point, face false accusations from a woman or a man.
"Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he’s unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are “underage” (or possibly a man!). I’m sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!" Trump wrote.
He also included a screenshot of a tweet that suggested DeSantis "partied with underage girls" at a party with alcohol while he was a teacher more than 20 years ago.
DeSantis, a former military prosecutor, is in a tricky position because of his extensive public commentary on selective prosecution and the equal application of the law to public figures.
He has decried the efforts of "social justice" activists and liberal elected officials to "defund the police" and decriminalize certain activities through non-enforcement of the law. That includes taking specific aim in his recently released book at Soros and at the "modus operandi" of big-city prosecutors who refuse to enforce laws "they do not like."
In sum, DeSantis wrote, there is a "duty of the prosecutor to follow the law" that conflicts with non-enforcement policies.
"While a prosecutor can decline to prosecute cases, such declination must be the result of an individualized determination about the merits of the individual case, not due to a blanket policy of non-enforcement," he wrote. "If you publicize that certain crimes carry no penalty, you're going to see a lot more of those crimes."
While DeSantis makes an implicit distinction between non-enforcement policies related to certain criminal activity and individual cases, his writing is clear on the point that a prosecutor's job is to prosecute alleged crimes.
As a member of Congress, DeSantis introduced an amendment to the Constitution requiring that all laws apply to lawmakers the same as they do to other people, suggesting a view that standards should not be adjusted to benefit public figures.