Rick Scott Misses Senate Vote To Join Donald Trump At His Hush Money Trial

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) missed a Senate vote on Thursday to show support for former President Donald Trump at his criminal trial related to hush money he allegedly paid to hide an affair.

“I’m proud of him for standing up for all of us,” Scott said in televised remarks outside the courthouse. “If they can go after the former president, they can go after you.”

Senators frequently miss votes for a variety of reasons, but this might be the first instance of one being absent to attend somebody else’s criminal trial. Republicans slammed Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) for skipping votes during his own criminal trial in 2017.

Scott’s attendance would not have made a difference on Thursday’s vote, which was on a procedural motion related to a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. The measure passed by a wide bipartisan margin. Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) also missed the vote. Scott ultimately voted on the bill’s final passage later Thursday evening.

The Florida Republican’s decision to join Trump at trial is just the latest example of the Republican Party’s total devotion to the former president. On Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called the four different state and federal cases against Trump a “borderline criminal conspiracy” orchestrated by Democrats.

Trump faces 34 felony counts in New York for falsifying business records in order to conceal payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who said she and Trump had a sexual encounter in 2006. During the trial, Manhattan prosecutors have sought to prove Trump orchestrated the payments from 2015 to 2017 to bury the stories he feared would damage his presidential campaign.

Scott said Trump had not asked him to come and that he came of his own volition because Trump’s prosecution reminded Scott of when he was fined $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare during his time as CEO of Columbia/HCA, a for-profit hospital company.

“I’m fed up. I watched what happened to me and my company,” Scott said. “I’ve talked to business people over the years and what’s happened to them when you have political persecution.”

Scott, however, acknowledged years ago that his company had “made mistakes” and that he “took responsibility” for its actions.

Scott has said he is considering a bid to become the next Senate Republican leader after Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) steps down this year. He previously moved against McConnell in 2022 but was rebuffed by their colleagues.

It’s not clear if hugging Trump would help Scott’s leadership candidacy, but it probably wouldn’t hurt.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former Democratic congresswoman trying to unseat Scott in November, blasted him for sucking up to Trump.

“As the man who oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in history and pleaded the [Fifth Amendment] 75 times, Rick Scott finds himself once again in a courtroom today … this time following Donald Trump like a fan waiting for a selfie,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a written statement. “Maybe someone should remind Scott that rather than sitting in New York trying to suck up to a defendant found liable for sexual abuse, he should be at work focusing on lowering costs, securing our border and protecting democracy.”

This story was updated to clarify that Scott voted on the final passage of legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and to note his previous comments acknowledging that his healthcare company made mistakes.