Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said former President Trump’s payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 involved “personal money,” an apparent attempt to minimize the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the matter after Trump said he expects to be arrested this week.
McCarthy’s comments came during a press conference on legislative priorities at the House GOP’s annual issues retreat in Orlando. The New York prosecutor is looking into Trump’s role in directing hush money payments in the lead up to the 2016 election.
“This was personal money,” McCarthy told reporters when he was asked if he has concerns with the allegations Trump is facing in Manhattan.
“This was seven years ago, statute of limitation. And I think in your heart of hearts you know too, that you think this is just political. And I think that’s what the rest of the country thinks. And we’re kind of tired of that,” he added.
Trump set off a political firestorm over the weekend when he suggested, in a Truth Social post, that he would be arrested on Tuesday in connection to the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation. Trump also called on his followers to “PROTEST” and “TAKE OUR NATION BACK.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) signaled earlier this month that Trump may face criminal charges as part of his probe when the office offered the former president the chance to testify before a grand jury.
Bragg has not yet made an official decision when it comes to charging Trump in the case. New York’s statute of limitations is five years for most felonies or two years for misdemeanors, but that timeline can be extended if the defendant has lived out of state — as Trump did when he was in the White House.
McCarthy on Tuesday sought to draw a similarity between Trump’s case and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigation into Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In March 2022, the Clinton campaign and DNC agreed to pay thousands of dollars in fines after they did not properly report the funds used on research for the Steele Dossier.
Clinton’s campaign reported $175,000 it spent on research for the dossier as “legal services.” The campaign hired law firm Perkins Coie, which then recruited research group Fusion GPS, which brought on retired British spy Christopher Steele.
“They went through and they got investigated,” McCarthy said of Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, adding “and you know what, at the end of the day, they didn’t get prosecuted, they got fined.”
“They knowingly hid the fact of what they were doing to try to hide. They got investigated. So I look [at] it from this perspective: we live in America and it should be equal justice,” he added.
At another point of the press conference McCarthy told reporters “I do get concerned when I look out there and I see justice not being equal to others, especially in the history of where we are.”
“A local DA playing in presidential politics. If that starts right there don’t you think it’ll happen across the country?” he added.
House Republicans are gathering this week in Orlando for their annual issues retreat, which was meant to be an event focused on the conference’s recent successes but has instead been overshadowed by Trump’s potential indictment in Manhattan. The GOP lawmakers have largely defended Trump while zeroing in on Bragg.
McCarthy on Tuesday, however, rejected the notion that Trump has drowned out the conference, telling reporters “it’s not here that we’re coming to defend President Trump; what we’re coming to defend is equal justice in America and I think every American believes in that.”
“What we see before us is not equal justice,” he later added. “What we see before us is a political game being played.”