Donald Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination are weighing in on Tuesday’s blockbuster news that the former president’s been informed he’s a target of a probe into the Jan. 6 protests and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
A government source with direct knowledge of the situation tells Fox News that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office sent Trump a target letter, and the former president confirmed the news in a social media post Tuesday.
The development indicates that another indictment of Trump could be looming in the near future.
In a video shared first with Fox News, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy argued the new potential charges are “different from any of the other prior indictments against Trump.”
“This one under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment could disqualify President Trump from either running for U.S. president or potentially even being removed as U.S. president if he is elected. Either sets a dangerous precedent here,” Ramaswamy, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, author, political commentator and culture wars crusader, said in his video.
Investigators have been seeking information on the then-president’s actions and state of mind on Jan. 6, 2021, and in the lead-up to that infamous day – when thousands of right wing extremists and other Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The deadly attack temporarily disrupted congressional certification of President Biden’s 2020 Electoral College victory over Trump.
“Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that anyone who’s taken an oath to office — a congressman, a senator, a president, can be removed from office or disqualified for running for office if they’ve also engaged in an insurrection against the United States. So if it is held that President Trump did play a role in an insurrection against the U.S., that disqualifies him from being U.S. president under the 14th Amendment,” Ramaswamy said.
And he charged that “I do not want to see my opponents eliminated because of the actions of a corrupt federal administrative police state.”
Some GOP candidates took the moment to go after the former president.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson blasted Trump in a statement, emphasizing: “I have said from the beginning that Donald Trump’s actions on January 6 should disqualify him from ever being President again.”
“As a former federal prosecutor, I understand the severity of Grand Jury investigations and what it means to be targeted by such an investigation. Donald Trump has confirmed that he is a target of this investigation and will likely be indicted once again. While Donald Trump would like the American people to believe that he is the victim in this situation, the truth is that the real victims of January 6th were our democracy, our rule of law, and those Capitol Police officers who worked valiantly to protect our Capitol,” said Hutchinson, who served as a federal prosecutor before winning election to Congress and serving in President George W. Bush’s administration.
Hutchinson, a vocal GOP Trump critic, stressed that “anyone who truly loves this country and is willing to put the country over themselves would suspend their campaign for President of the United States immediately. It is disappointing that Donald Trump refuses to do so.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, warned in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that “it’s going to keep on going. I mean, the rest of this primary election is going to be in reference to Trump, it’s going to be about lawsuits, it’s going to be about legal fees, it’s going to be about judges, and it’s going to continue to be a further and further distraction.”
“That’s why I am running, we need a new generational leader,” Haley said. “We can’t keep dealing with this drama, we can’t keep dealing with the negativity… We can’t be sitting there focused on lawsuits over and over again.”
Trump remains the commanding front-runner in the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, holding a large double-digit lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, with everybody else in the large field of contenders in the single digits.
DeSantis was asked about the latest Trump legal controversy as he held a news conference while campaigning in South Carolina.
The governor highlighted what plenty of Republicans have argued is the politicization of federal judicial institutions, including the Justice Department and the FBI.
“I can’t speak about that because I haven’t seen it,” DeSantis said of the naming of Trump as a target in the Jan. 6 investigation.
But he added, “I can tell you one of my jobs as president will be to end the weaponization of these agencies. I will get that job done.”
Trump earlier this year became the first sitting or former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime.
Trump pleaded not guilty in early April in New York City to charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The former president was indicted for allegedly giving hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of that year’s presidential election over her claims she had sexual encounters years earlier with Trump. The former president denies sleeping with Daniels and denies falsifying business records to keep the payment concealed.
Trump was indicted and arraigned early last month for his alleged improper retention of classified records. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Miami, Florida, to criminal charges that he illegally retained national security records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, following the end of his term as president, and that he obstructed federal efforts to recover the documents. In total, Trump faces 37 felony charges.
But the indictments have only strengthened Trump’s standing among his base of devoted supporters. And his lead over the rest of the field of GOP rivals has increased in recent months as he makes his third straight White House run.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates on FoxNews.com.