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Texas Republicans were at Trump’s side as his defense rested in hush money trial


Texas Republicans were at Trump’s side as his defense rested in hush money trial

May 21, 2024 | 6:55 pm ET
By Sejal Govindarao
Texas state capitol

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As testimony ended in Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Tuesday, a trio of Texas Republicans – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, along with U.S. Reps. Troy Nehls and Ronny Jackson – were there outside the New York courthouse, ready to step into the role of champions for the former president.

“They want Donald Trump to disappear,” Patrick told reporters outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse late Tuesday after the defense rested its case without their client’s testimony. “They want to send him to jail. They want to take him off the main stage because they know he’s their biggest danger to taking the ruling class down.”

Patrick, Nehls and Jackson were among a steady stream of VIP spectators who had flown in to watch the proceeding. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a longtime Trump supporter who is a contender for attorney general in Trump’s administration if he wins, came to New York to watch the trial last month. Paxton launched an unsuccessful legal challenge in four battleground states over Trump’s 2020 election loss, and was a featured speaker at the Washington rally preceding the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records over his 2016 $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels. While he could face imprisonment if convicted, it is an unlikely sentence for someone convicted of a non-violent crime.

Nehls – wearing a tie with photographs of Trump holding an American flag – called the trial “election interference,” and Jackson, who was once physician to President Barack Obama and to Trump, called the trial’s judge and prosecutors “corrupt” and “puppets of the Biden Administration and Biden DOJ.”

Closing arguments in Trump’s trial are scheduled for next Tuesday, May 28. Jurors are expected to begin deliberations once those are complete. The criminal proceeding is taking place six months before Trump faces President Joe Biden in the 2024 general election. The trial, which began on April 15, has seen countless GOP allies flocking to court to show their support for Trump.

Nehls called for Trump to be U.S. House speaker after Kevin McCarthy was ousted and most recently sported a T-shirt with Trump’s mugshot to Biden’s State of the Union address in March. Patrick is also a staunch Trump supporter, having chaired Trump's campaigns in Texas in 2016 and 2020.

Paxton, as well as Jackson and Patrick, are all recipients of Trump endorsements during their respective political campaigns. And those endorsements translate well in a state where support for the former president is strong among GOP voters.

Trump’s backing particularly paid off for Paxton’s heated 2022 primary. Trump also claimed credit for Paxton’s acquittal at his impeachment trial last year; he denounced the impeachment proceedings soon before they began. And Trump’s support is credited with helping Jackson in his 2020 primary runoff.

While the former president stayed out of Nehls’ heated 2020 primary runoff against Kathaleen Wall, another Trump supporter, Nehls, Jackson and Paxton have all endorsed Trump’s reelection bid.

Correction at 10: A.M. on May 25, 2024: A previous caption on a photo in this story misspelled attorney Todd Blanche's last name.

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