Nearly two days after Mr Trump claimed on his Truth Social platform that he could be arrested on Tuesday, the conservative Florida governor has not spoken out about the one-time president’s claims as several of his ardent supporters announced plans to protest or simply spoke out against the possibility.
Mr DeSantis is widely expected to confirm his run for the 2024 presidential elections and challenge Mr Trump.
Jason Miller, a longtime Trump adviser, pointed out the “radio silence” from Mr DeSantis and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, another 2024 hopeful.
“Radio silence from Gov. @RonDeSantisFL and Amb. @NikkiHaley,” tweeted Mr Miller, who founded right-wing social network Gettr.
He did praise Mike Pence for criticising the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation. The former vice president, who is also believed to be in the running for the top job, said he was “taken aback” by his former boss’s claims.
Far-right political activist Jack Posobiec said in a tweet: “It takes 10 seconds to send a tweet. ‘This prosecution of President Trump is a farce and does grave damage to our republic’.”
“For DeSantis to make that post yesterday, talking about the Hurricane Ian response and nothing from the personal account whatsoever about the arrest – it was a message that was received,” he told The New York Times.
On Truth Social, conservative radio host Sebastian Gorka said he was “curious” if Mr DeSantis is going to say anything.
Right-wing political commentator Mike Cernovich said the governor should take a stance on whether he would extradite Mr Trump from Florida without a “proper legal review”.
This is about principle, not a person. This is about our country, not one man. The silence from the rest of the GOP field is deafening. pic.twitter.com/Jqi9o2d0wR
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) March 18, 2023
“DeSantis is making his first unforced error by not denouncing this lawless act. He should say he will only extradite if there’s proper legal review. This is one of those pivotal moments in your life. If he gets this wrong, then he’s better off not even declaring," Mr Cernovich tweeted.
“‘I will not extradite a presidential candidate to a Soros DA who allows violent criminals to roam free until there has been a proper legal review conducted under Florida law. If lawful, then extradition may occur, but not one day sooner.’ DeSantis has to say this.”
Without directly mentioning the Florida governor, Mr Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr said: “Pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing.”
Pay attention to which Republicans spoke out against this corrupt BS immediately and who sat on their hands and waited to see which way the wind was blowing. https://t.co/WJMq2528Gs
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 19, 2023
Far-right influencer Stew Peters demanded Mr DeSantis send the Florida National Guard to protect the former president and “anything less proves DeSantis is a fraud”.
Mr Trump’s former attorney Jenna Ellis, however, seemingly defended Mr DeSantis, saying the Republican cannot have it both ways after a pro-Trump PAC accused the Florida governor of violating the state’s ethics law by running a “shadow presidential campaign” even as he is yet to announce his candidacy.
“Ron DeSantis isn’t a candidate though,” Ellis wrote. “The Trump PAC just slapped him with an ethics violation for (supposedly) acting like a candidate when he isn’t one, and now the base wants him to act like one? Can’t have it both ways.”
A spokesperson for Mr Trump has, however, clarified there “has been no notification” of an arrest or charges, other than “illegal leaks” to news outlets.
Law enforcement agencies are reportedly preparing for the possibility of his indictment in the case of a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.