May 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump grip tightens with high-profile loyalty test

Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) looks on as former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 13, 2024 in New York City.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) looks on as former President Trump speaks at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 13 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An entourage of loyalists have streamed into the Manhattan courthouse to prove their allegiance to indicted former President Trump.

Why it matters: The Manhattan courtroom has become the latest stage for Trump allies, including possible vice presidential candidates, to flex their support.

  • Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) attended Trump's New York criminal trial Monday, the first high-profile potential running mate to show up at the courthouse.
  • Trump will be joined at the courthouse tomorrow by former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, another Trump VP contender, a spokesperson confirmed to Axios.
  • Vance was joined in court on Monday by Trump acolytes Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird.

Outside the courtroom, the lawmakers assailed the case and criticized key witness Michael Cohen. Trump is barred from commenting on witnesses, jurors and others connected to the case under his gag order.

Zoom in: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) attended court with Trump last week and Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, attended late last month.

  • A number of former and current Trump advisers, such as senior adviser Jason Miller and Susie Wiles, a senior adviser to Trump's 2024 campaign, have also attended court.

State of play: The audition to be Trump's VP has spilled into public view in recent weeks.

  • Possible vice presidential contenders have increasingly appeared on cable news shows that Trump watches and attended high-profile fundraisers, Axios' Alex Thompson reports.
  • They've also attended rallies for the former president and appeared to echo his rhetoric — or dodge the question altogether — on whether they plan to accept the results of the 2024 presidential election.

Between the lines: Trump said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this month that "if everything's honest, I'll gladly accept the results. I don't change on that."

  • "If it's not, you have to fight for the right of the country," he said.

What to watch: Trump has indicated he will announce his vice presidential pick before the Republican National Convention in July.

  • Until then, expect more Trump allies to join him in court.

Go deeper: Trump's real-time reviews of 2024 VP possibles and other surrogates

Axios' Sophia Cai and April Rubin contributed reporting.

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