GOP presidential hopefuls criticize Trump: ‘He’s a petulant child’

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Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to supporters as he formally announces his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president on June 07, 2023 in Ankeny, Iowa. 

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Several Republican 2024 presidential hopefuls criticized Donald Trump Sunday as the former president faces 37 federal counts for allegedly hoarding documents after he left the White House.

Trump has lashed out at his critics — including members of his former staff — in the wake of his indictment, calling his former Attorney General Bill Barr a “Gutless Pig” and his former chief of staff John Kelly “weak” with a “VERY small ‘brain.'”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who announced his bid for president earlier this month, said Trump’s comments suggest he is the “worst manager in the history of the American presidency.”

“He’s a petulant child when someone disagrees with him,” Christie told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.

Presidential hopeful and former Vice President Mike Pence said it is “premature” to say whether or not he would pardon Trump were he to be convicted. Pence said Wednesday he could not defend the criminal allegations against Trump, but added Sunday that he does not know why many Republicans are presuming he will be found guilty.

“All we know is what the president has been accused of in the indictment,” Pence told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “It is saddening to me that we are now in this moment.”

Pence questioned Trump’s commitment to conservative principles, stating that he is “walking away” from his stance on abortion and that his position on the national debt is “identical” to that of President Joe Biden.

He added he had hoped Trump would “come around” to accepting the results of the 2020 election, which Trump has repeatedly claimed was stolen.

“No one who puts himself over the Constitution should ever be president of the United States,” Pence said.

Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas who is also a presidential hopeful, said he doubted Trump’s ability to pardon himself if he were reelected.

“I’m doubtful of it. I don’t think that’s what the Constitution intends in giving the president pardon power,” Hutchinson said on ABC’s “This Week,” later adding that, though a self-pardon would be “inappropriate” and “unseemly,” doing so is “exactly what (Trump) would intend if he got elected president.”

Hutchinson also said he would not accept the Republican National Committee’s pledge to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee as a condition of participating on the debate stage.

“I’m not going to support — just like other voters are not going to support — somebody for president who is under indictment that is potentially convicted at that time,” said the Arkansas Republican.

But Trump had a supporter on Sunday in Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy who has said the former president should be pardoned if convicted. The biopharma entrepreneur called for dismantling institutions like the Federal Bureau of Investigation over so-called “political viewpoints.”

The agency is “a formula for corruption,” Ramaswamy said on “Fox News Sunday,” for allegedly threatening Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights era or “going after political conservatives” like Trump.

“This is about standing up for principles over politics,” he said.

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