Senate Democrats Avoid Taking Stance on Trump’s Guilty Verdict

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Senate Democrats running for reelection in swing states next year are largely staying silent about former President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict, a stark contrast to the more vocal stance of their progressive colleagues who have openly supported the historic conviction.

This strategy highlights potential vulnerabilities for more than a half-dozen Senate Democrats in battleground states, where any one race could shift the balance of power in the chamber.

Requests for comment on Trump’s 34 felony convictions in his New York hush money trial went unanswered by the offices or campaigns of Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

Following this article’s publication, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) made a statement: “I’m not a lawyer or a judge, but I’ve said from the beginning that no one is above the law. Ultimately, this is up to the legal system to sort out and for the American people to decide in November.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) commented, “Sen. Tester respects the judicial process and believes everyone should be treated fairly before the courts, and voters will have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box in November.”

According to Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who has advised former President Bill Clinton, a reserved approach is a calculated political move to avoid alienating voters.

“Why put your neck in a noose if you don’t have to?” Sheinkopf said. “If you’re already in trouble, why do something that could alienate a significant portion of the population?”

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans criticized Tester and Brown, viewing them as key targets in their quest for a Senate majority. The National Republican Senatorial Committee urged both to abandon the Democratic Party over what they termed a “corrupt show trial.”

“Two-Faced Tester voted to impeach President Trump twice and encouraged physical violence against Trump,” said NRSC communications director Mike Berg. “Now, Two-Faced Tester is trying to fool voters into thinking he isn’t the Trump hater he was so proud to be for the last five years.”

Regarding Brown, NRSC spokesman Philip Letsou stated he should “kiss his political career goodbye” unless he separates from the Democratic Party.

“Staying silent like a coward isn’t an option,” Letsou said.

Senate Democrats Avoid Taking Stance on Trump’s Guilty Verdict
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did not issue a statement on the verdict, and a spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Conversely, Democrats running for open Senate seats were more vocal.

In Michigan, leading Democratic candidate Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) described Trump’s verdict as “an unprecedented moment, and a sad one for our country.”

“Presidents should be leaders we look up to; now, one of them is a convicted felon, found guilty by a jury of his peers. That’s nothing to celebrate,” Slotkin said. “The only good news is that our justice system worked, even under enormous pressure. Every American, even a former president, must be held accountable under the law. That principle is foundational to our country and more important than any one president, candidate, or campaign.”

In Arizona, leading Democratic candidate Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) expressed similar sentiments in a more succinct manner.

“I respect our justice system and the rule of law,” Gallego said. “The process played out, and we should always demand accountability from our elected leaders.”

Republicans and Trump swiftly denounced the guilty verdict, calling the process “corrupt,” “rigged,” and part of a “two-tiered system of justice.” In a campaign fundraising email, Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, referred to himself as a “political prisoner.”

Democrats maintained that the outcome was a victory for “the rule of law” and the American justice system.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11 at 10 a.m., just four days before the Republican National Convention begins.

Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry is a Capitol Hill Reporter focusing on energy and environment. Previously, Ramsey covered Congress for Newsweek and was a multimedia reporter at a local NPR and PBS affiliate in Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, Ramsey graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism.

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