Johnson defends decision to attend Trump trial, calling the case ‘an atrocity’

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Johnson defends decision to attend Trump trial, calling the case ‘an atrocity’

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) defended his decision to attend former President Trump’s hush money trial in New York earlier this week, calling the case an “atrocity.”

In an interview with NBC News, Johnson said he rode in the car with the former president from Trump Tower to the Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday, where Trump sat before a judge for the fifth week of his criminal trial.

Johnson and several other Republican allies showed up to show support for the presumptive GOP nominee and slam the court proceedings as election interference. The speaker said Trump is angry he can’t be campaigning.

“He’s clearly frustrated that he’s been tied up now for the fifth week in this trial that has no merit, that prosecutors had already passed on eight years ago, that they can’t define any crime that he has supposedly committed and the entire case is based upon a known perjurer, Michael Cohen,” Johnson said Wednesday in the interview. “So it’s an atrocity.”

Johnson said he spoke with Trump about how the “soon-to-be official nominee” of the Republican Party is required to be in court most of the week as witnesses take the stand instead of on the campaign trail in “what many of us regard to be the most critical election year of our lifetime.”

Trump pointed out the large area around the courthouse that’s been closed off by law enforcement as the motorcade arrived. Johnson said he believes it’s politically motivated to keep Trump’s supporters far away from the entrance.

“I think it’s part of the strategy and I just think it’s a travesty of justice,” he said.

Johnson was joined by Sens. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Cory Mills (R-Fla.), as well as former GOP nominee Vivek Ramaswamy and others at the courthouse supporting Trump.

His status as speaker makes him the highest-ranking lawmaker to appear at Trump’s trial so far, and it is also a sign that House Republicans are standing behind the former president despite the legal troubles and promiscuous details revealed in court.

Johnson drew criticism from Democrats for attending. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said it was a “stunt” that diminishes the House of Representatives and the American people “deserve better.”