Updated Mar 20, 2023, 2:55pm EDT
politicsNorth America

DeSantis appears to mock Trump over hush money controversy

Gov. Ron DeSantis
REUTERS/Allison Dinner

Sign up for Semafor Principals: An insider’s guide to power in D.C. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 White House candidate, appeared to mock former President Donald Trump's alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and his potential indictment, which experts say is likely coming this week.

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star, to secure silence over some typed alleged affair, I can't speak to that." DeSantis said, causing reporters in the room to giggle.

Still, DeSantis made clear he thought that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was politically motivated to prosecute Trump.

"[Bragg], like other Soros-funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety,” DeSantis said at a press conference, referring to how billionaire George Soros partially funded Bragg's campaign via a political action committee. “He has downgraded over 50% of the felonies to misdemeanors. He says he doesn’t want to even have jail time for the vast, vast majority of crimes.”

Title icon

Know More

In his response, DeSantis called out Bragg for what he saw as a prioritization of criminal charges against Trump instead of focusing on prosecuting petty and dangerous crime in the city.

"If you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many, many years ago, to try to use something about porn star hush money payments," he said. "You know, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.”

He added, however, that he would not get involved with the indictment or arrest when filed, given Trump's Florida residency.

The governor touted his own record of suspending former Tampa prosecutor Andrew Warren last month, who he described as another "Soros-funded" official.

“The Soros district attorneys are a menace to society and I’m just glad that I’m the only governor in the country that’s actually removed one from office during my tenure,” he said.

Title icon

Step Back

Experts say that an indictment of Trump is imminent after a Manhattan grand jury recently gave the former president an opportunity to testify, a signal that the court is nearing charges. Multiple witnesses, including Daniels, provided testimony last week.

He will become the first former president in U.S history to face indictment in if the motion prevails.

Trump's legal drama centers around allegations that he reimbursed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, after ordering him to pay Daniels $130,000 in return for her silence over an alleged 2006 affair with Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to paying off Daniels, with prosecutors on that case presenting evidence that appeared to show Trump had attempted to hide the reimbursements in his business records.

Title icon

The View From #45

Trump appeared to fire back at DeSantis on Monday. In a post on his Truth Social network — which has since been deleted — the former president included a link to an unverified 2021 report that DeSantis allegedly partied with underage girls while a teacher at a Georgia school.

"Ron Desanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS AND FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he's unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are "underage" (or possibly a man!)," Trump wrote. "I'm sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!"


Sign up for Semafor Principals: An insider’s guide to power in D.C. Read it now.