Trump’s hush money trial turns into audition stage for VP

Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is also expected to attend the trial on Tuesday

Katie Hawkinson
Monday 13 May 2024 23:17
Senator Tommy Tuberville defends Donald Trump amid hush money trial

All the world’s a stage, and this week the spotlight is on the Manhattan Criminal Court as major Republican players flock to audition for the role of Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate.

On Monday, Senators JD Vance and Tommy Tuberville joined the former president in a show of support at his hush money trial, echoing his rhetoric speaking to reporters outside court in slamming the case against him.

Mr Tuberville of Alabama made his bid defending Mr Trump by criticising the fact he is forced to go by the moniker Mr Trump – rather than President Trump in court — and accusing prosecutors of inflicting “mental anguish” on the former president.

“I’m disappointed in the courtroom,” Mr Tuberville told reporters on Monday.

“I hear: ‘Mr Trump, Mr Trump.’ He is ‘former president Trump.’ Give him some respect, I mean that’s what that place is, no respect.

“This is New York City, the icon of our country, and we’ve got a courtroom that’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever been in,” he continued.

“Mental anguish is trying to be pushed on Republican candidate for the president of the United States this year.”

Mr Vance of Ohio — one of Mr Trump’s rumoured top picks to become his running mate — also put in an appearance and took his performance to X, echoing a similar sentiment.

“The president is expected to sit here for six weeks to listen to the Michael Cohens of the world,” Mr Vance posted Monday. “I’m now convinced the main goal of this trial is psychological torture.”

Mr Vance also jumped to defend Mr Trump over reports that he has been nodding off in the courtroom.

“I’m 39 years old and I’ve been here for 26 minutes and I’m about to fall asleep,” the senator added.

Senators JD Vance (left) and Tommy Tuberville (right) stand behind Donald Trump (centre) on 13 May 2024 at the Manhattan Criminal Court. The two senators are rumoured to be candidates for Mr Trump’s running mate (via REUTERS)

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell noted that the senators sat in court right behind Mr Trump’s son Eric Trump – the only member of the Trump family to have shown up to support the criminal defendant.

“This will be the vice-presidential nominee audition bench, which is right behind the Eric Trump bench,” Mr O’Donnell said.

“Tuberville, to his credit, was straight ahead and listening, taking it all in as best he can, whatever since he can make of it,” he continued. “But JD Vance there was really no reason for him to come if he wasn’t going to take in anything.”

Vivek Ramaswamy — former 2024 presidential candidate and another rumoured vice presidential pick — is expected to attend Mr Trump’s trial on Tuesday.

The three figures aren’t the only Republicans using the trial as their testing grounds.

Last week, Senator Rick Scott accompanied the former president as the court heard bombshell testimony from adult film star Stormy Daniels. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch ally to Mr Trump, also attended last week.

Donald Trump (left), Rick Scott (centre) and attorney Todd Blanche (right) walk into the Manhattan Criminal Court on 9 May. Mr Scott, a GOP senator from Florida, is a staunch ally of the former president (AP)

Mr Trump’s campaign told The Associated Press last week that the attending lawmakers volunteered to come and were not formally invited.

The former president’s pick for his running mate has been shrouded in mystery. He is expected to announce his vice presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention this July, where he will officially be named the party’s presidential nominee.

But last week, audio obtained by Axios from a private lunch revealed his thoughts about those auditioning.

The audio, obtained by Axios, was recorded during Mr Trump’s high-profile Republican event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last weekend. Attendees included major Republican donors and his many contenders for vice president.

Mr Trump’s potential picks for a running mate include several senators, representatives, governors and former presidential candidates.

Mr Trump has been on trial since 15 April after he was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, in order to stop her coming forward with allegations of a 2006 affair.

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