Mike Johnson acts as proxy for ‘friend’ Trump as he bashes judge’s daughter and ‘sham trial’ outside court

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson vocally defended former president Donald Trump outside the New York City courthouse where the former president’s criminal trial was taking place on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said he was speaking out in defence of his “friend,” the former president, and decried the “sham” trial.

“I wanted to be here myself, to call out what is a travesty of justice,” Mr Johnson told reporters. “President Trump is a friend and I wanted to be here to support him.”

The Louisiana Republican is an ally of Mr Trump who assumed the gavel in October of last year and led House Republicans’ legal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mr Johnson spoke to reporters shortly after Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former attorney and fixer who made the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels at the heart of the case, began his testimony. Mr Cohen reportedly made the payment to keep Ms Daniels silent about a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006, which the former president has denied.

“I just listened to a few moments of his testimony this morning and it is consistent with what he's already done,” Mr Johnson said.

He then alluded to the fact Mr Cohen previously pleaded guilty to lying in federal court and lying to Congress.

“This is a man who is clearly on a mission for personal revenge, and who is widely known as a witness who has trouble with the truth,” Mr Johnson said. “He lied to Congress. He lied to the IRS. He lied to federal election officials. Even Cohen's own lawyer testified to a grand jury that he is not reliable. So, there's nothing that he presents here that should be given any weight at all by a jury and certainly not this judge.”

Despite his reputation as a devout Christian, Mr Johnson has formed a strong bond with the former president who once appeared on the cover of Playboy. Mr Trump came out in support of Mr Johnson and opposed pro-Trump Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s efforts to oust Mr Johnson last week.

Mr Johnson criticized the charge that Mr Trump falsified his business records.

“I think everybody knows he is not the bookkeeper for his company,” he said. “President Trump is innocent of these charges, and again, anyone with common sense can understand what is happening here.”

Mr Johnson is just the latest Republican-elected official to head to New York to show their support for the former president. Senators Rick Scott of Florida, JD Vance of Ohio and Senator Tommy Tuberville are among the many who have made the pilgrimage to the Manhattan courthouse.

The Democratic National Committee mocked the showing.

“Trump’s pathetic band of MAGA extremists seemingly have nothing better to do than echo Trump’s lies and nod approvingly in the background – because they certainly aren’t doing their day jobs of serving their constituents or running a functional political operation,” spokesman Alex Floyd said. “If deploying this motley crew of cranks and conspiracy theorists was the Trump campaign’s ham-handed attempt to divert attention from their candidate’s disappearance from the campaign trail, they’re in for a stormy six months ahead.”

The speaker also decried the gag order in place to stop Mr Trump from speaking about the trial. The former president has already been fined for violating the order.

Mr Johnson then attacked the judge and his daughter in ways that had previously led to Mr Trump receiving the gag order in the first place.

“The system is using all the tools at its disposal right now to punish one president and provide cover for another,” Mr Johnson said. “And meanwhile, among the atrocities here, the judge's own daughter is making millions of dollars doing online fundraising for Democrats. They're using this trial as a hook, it's so corrupt. It's so corrupt, and everybody knows it.”

Loren Merchan, the judge’s daughter, previously worked as president and partner of Authentic Campaigns, a firm that helps elect Democrats.

Mr Johnson also said that the Republican-controlled House would take steps to rein in Special Counsel Jack Smith.

“These are politically motivated trials, and they are a disgrace,” he said. “It is election interference, and they show the opposition that President Trump has and how desperate they truly are.”