As Republicans slam 'travesty' of Trump's arraignment, Dems say: 'Justice benefits all of us'

Lawmakers are reacting to the historic proceedings against the former president.

In the wake of Tuesday's historic arraignment of and unveiled indictment against former President Donald Trump, politicians spanning the Republican Party spoke out about the case.

Some have attested to their full confidence in Trump or stressed their their stark opposition to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who they say is "criminalizing political opponents."

Notably, however, some conservatives have either not commented -- like Mitch McConnell -- or, like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, have tempered their criticism of the prosecution with criticism of Trump himself.

Democrats, for their part, have shared support for the legal system that will judge Trump, who faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records related to 2016 hush money payments. He pleaded not guilty at New York City courtroom on Tuesday.

Most Democrats have maintained a stance that no one -- even a former president -- is above the law, while the White House has remained mum on all questions related to the arraignment.

While comments continue to emerge on the unsealed indictment and related statement of facts, released Tuesday afternoon after Trump was arraigned in Manhattan, politicians including the Senate majority leader and House speaker have weighed in.

The No. 3 House Republican, New York's Elise Stefanik said in a statement, in part, that Trump's arrest as part of his arraignment was a "dangerous and illegal overreach by a radical DA."

Stefanik, one of Trump's fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill, went on to argue that he will overcome the "witch-hunt" and "be sworn in as President of the United States of America in January 2025" at the end of his current comeback campaign.

"This dangerous and illegal overreach by a radical DA has completely backfired for the corrupt Far Left Democrats who would rather desperately tear apart the fabric of our country than face President Trump at the ballot box," she said.

After the arraignment, Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote on Twitter that Bragg "is attempting to interfere in our democratic process" and "will be held accountable by Congress."

Bragg's office has been engaged in a back-and-forth with House Republicans who are seeking to probe his investigation, which his counsel has called an undue intrusion into New York affairs.

In his own statement released while Trump was being arraigned, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged protesters who gathered in New York City on Tuesday to be peaceful and said, "Donald Trump will have a fair trial that follows the facts and the law."

"I believe that Mr. Trump will have a fair trial that follows the facts and the law. There's no place in our justice system for any outside influence or intimidation in the legal process. As the trial proceeds, protest is an American right but all protests must be peaceful," Schumer said.

PHOTO: Opponents of former President Donald Trump protest outside the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York, April 4, 2023.
Opponents of former President Donald Trump protest outside the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York, April 4, 2023.
Leonardo Munoz/AFP via Getty Images

Minority Leader McConnell has not commented on Trump's arraignment -- and has never issued a formal statement on the case against him in New York. He hadn't been present on Capitol Hill to be peppered with questions about the looming indictment because he was in his home state of Kentucky recovering from a fall.

McConnell has, however, has been issuing comments on matters unrelated to Trump over the last week.

Republicans rally behind Trump

On Tuesday, as Trump was arraigned, Republicans ranging from those who unequivocally back the former president to conservatives who have strayed from his leadership or who may challenge him for the 2024 Republican nomination largely affirmed their support for him.

Swarmed by an outsized number of press and some protesters in New York City, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke outside the courthouse ahead of the arraignment, calling Trump's indictment "election interference" and slamming Bragg.

"I am here to protest and use my voice and take a stand. Every American should take a stand. ... We have to take a stand against the injustice, the corruption," Greene said.

"This is a travesty," she said.

Greene, along with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and failed Arizona GOP governor candidate and staunch Trump ally Kari Lake attended Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club remarks later on Tuesday night.

Also outside the courthouse in Manhattan on Tuesday was embattled freshman Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who wrote in a later tweet that he showed up "because that's what real supporters do."

"I stood by Trump from the moment he came down the escalator, I voted for him in the primary and twice for president in the general elections," Santos tweeted while Trump was in the courtroom for his arraignment.

Many of Trump's most outspoken Republican defenders in the Senate bashed Bragg on Tuesday, too. with some describing him as "left-wing."

"Not only is the indictment frivolous, this political persecution marks a dark day for our country," Texas Republican Ted Cruz said in a statement.

Missouri's Josh Hawley responded with a single word, tweeting: "Travesty."

Marco Rubio of a Florida issued a nearly two-minute long video diary, arguing that "politics crosses a line that it's never going to come back from."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham -- a longtime ally of Trump --used Trump's arrest as a rallying cry for 2024 during a brief appearance Tuesday night on Fox News with Sean Hannity, calling on supporters to "blow up the internet" and give money to help flip the Senate and reelect Trump "while we still have a country worth saving."

Graham called the 2024 presidential election "the most important" of his lifetime.

"It's legal garbage in New York, it is politically motivated, and we do have one last chance to not become a banana republic," Graham said.

Graham was keyed up, barely pausing to take questions and at times seeming to shout in anger as he described the next presidential race as the last remaining "off ramp" for the country.

PHOTO: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on the day of former President Donald Trump's planned court appearance after his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury, in New York City, April 4, 2023.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on the day of former President Donald Trump's planned court appearance after his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury following a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, in New York City, April 4, 2023.
Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Democrats defend the justice system

On the other side of the aisle, lawmakers' messaging centered on support for the "justice system" or Bragg, who is now leading the years-long investigation of Trump in New York City.

"As Donald Trump challenges the legitimacy of our criminal justice system, let us give him the equal protection and due process he's deprived everyone he's accused of a crime. Justice benefits all of us," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., wrote in a tweet.

That echoes what former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement last week, after Trump was indicted: "The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right."

On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York stood in front of the Manhattan courthouse and told Greene go back to Washington.

"I was born and raised in New York City. This is the city that I love. This is the city focused on hard work and love for all people," said Bowman, a former middle school principal.

"We will never accept hateful rhetoric in our city. … Marjorie Taylor Greene needs to take her a-- back to Washington and do something about gun violence," he said.

At a briefing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefly addressed Trump's arraignment but said she would continue to stay mum on the matter despite pressure from reporters.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump appears in court at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on April 4, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump appears in court at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on April 4, 2023.
Seth Wenig/Pool via AFP-Getty Images

Asked if President Joe Biden was tracking the news around Trump, she stressed, as she has in the past, that the case is an ongoing investigation and she would not comment.

But she also tried to play up a kind of political split screen, arguing that Biden is focused on the American people.

"This is not something that is a focus for him," Jean-Pierre said, referring to Trump. "[Biden] is going to focus on things like making sure that the we continue to lower prices for the American people."

"Obviously he will catch part of the news when he has a moment to catch up on the news of the day. But this is not his focus for today," Jean-Pierre said.

Vice President Kamala Harris also remained silent on Trump's indictment on Tuesday, ignoring a question from ABC News' Ben Gittleson during a spray of a swearing-in ceremony for a member of the U.S. Space Force.

Harris did not reply when Gittleson shouted close to her, "Any comment on Trump's indictment?" and, "Any concern about him attacking the judge?"

Romney, a vocal critic of Trump and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, released a statement that mirrored some of his GOP peers, saying the "New York prosecutor has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda."

"The prosecutor's overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents and damages the public's faith in our justice system," he said.

However, echoing Trump 2024 competitor Asa Hutchinson, Romney said that Trump should not be president again: "I believe President Trump's character and conduct make him unfit for office," Romney said. "The American voters will ultimately render their own judgment on the former President's political future."

Appearing before the press on Tuesday at a separate White House event, Biden himself did not respond to a shouted question about Trump's indictment -- except with an expression.

At the end of a spray of a meeting Biden was holding about artificial intelligence, a reporter shouted: "Is the indictment of your predecessor politically divisive?"

Biden didn't say anything, but he did crack a smile and may have chuckled a bit.

ABC News' Gabe Ferris, Ben Gittleson and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.