Speaker Mike Johnson Joins Trump In Court, Echoes Criticisms

2 weeks ago The leading Republican in Congress, Mike Johnson, joined Donald Trump at the former president's hush money trial on Tuesday, and echoed his assertions that the four criminal cases against Trump are a disgrace meant to undermine his bid to reclaim the White House.

"These are politically motivated trials and they are a disgrace. This is election interference," Johnson, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told reporters outside the courtroom, repeating Trump's own words in labeling the proceeding a witch hunt and a sham.

"It's impossible for anybody to deny, that looks at this objectively, that the judicial system in our country has been weaponized against President Trump," Johnson said.

The three other cases charge Trump with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases.

Johnson is the most senior party member to appear with Trump outside the New York courtroom, where Trump is accused of trying to cover up a payment to an adult film star to boost his 2016 presidential campaign.

An aide said Johnson listened to testimony from an overflow room used primarily by journalists to monitor on closed-circuit television.

Trump's fellow Republicans, including senators and other House lawmakers, began appearing at the New York courthouse in recent days, after he bemoaned a shortage of supporters. Trump has blamed that absence on security, although the streets around the court remain open to traffic.

Trump, whose opinions hold great sway among House Republicans, has given Johnson's speakership vital support in the face of an ouster threat by firebrand Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly rejected her effort to push Johnson out.

Johnson is moving forward with legislation that would require proof of U.S. citizenship for registering to vote, echoing Trump's unsubstantiated claims that migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally could vote in November.

The speaker, a Christian conservative who bemoans the moral decline of the United States in campaign fundraising messages, came under fire for his decision to appear at a trial that turns heavily on adultery allegations.

"Have to admit I'm surprised that @SpeakerJohnson wants to be in the 'I cheated on my wife with a porn star' club. I guess he's not that concerned with teaching morality to our young people after all," Liz Cheney, former Republican co-chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, said on the social platform X.

Trump was also joined on Tuesday by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, seen as a possible Trump running mate; hardline House Republicans Byron Donalds and Cory Mills; and former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

Trump has drawn support in the form of personal appearances from several other Republicans on Capitol Hill including Senators Rick Scott, J.D. Vance - another potential Trump running mate - and Tommy Tuberville.

Outside the courtroom, Trump regularly rails against the proceedings, the judge and his November rival, Democratic President Joe Biden.