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Former Florida governor stands up for Trump amid New York legal battle over civil fraud case, warns of economic fallout and fear among entrepreneurs from legal rulings


Florida – Former Republican Florida Governor Jeb Bush has publicly come to the defense of his once-rival, former President Donald Trump. This defense was articulated in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that criticized a recent New York civil fraud court case against Trump. The case culminated in a significant $354.8 million fine against the 45th president, plus interest, marking a notable moment in the legal challenges Trump faces post-presidency.

Bush, who contended with Trump in the tumultuous 2016 Republican presidential primary, has had a history of exchanging sharp criticisms with him. Yet, in his op-ed, co-authored with Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale and titled “Elon Musk and Donald Trump Cases Imperil the Rule of Law,” Bush argues that the recent court rulings against Trump—and similarly, the ruling against Elon Musk in Delaware—pose a threat not just to the individuals involved but to the broader American legal and economic landscape.

“Every American has a right to be critical of Mr. Trump’s politics—one of us ran against him in 2016,” the op-ed acknowledges. However, it quickly moves beyond politics to a more fundamental concern: the implications of these legal actions on the rule of law and the economic environment in the United States. The authors contend that the rulings represent a crisis for the courts and could lead to a climate of fear among entrepreneurs and business leaders, potentially stifling economic growth and innovation.

The case in question saw Trump fined nearly $355 million and barred from operating his business in New York for three years, following a monthslong civil fraud trial. The op-ed criticizes the use of legal mechanisms that, according to Bush and Lonsdale, do not require the demonstration of intent to defraud or the existence of financial loss or victims. They argue this sets a dangerous precedent for arbitrary legal action against business figures, particularly those who engage in political activity or dissent.

Bush’s history with Trump includes not only electoral rivalry but also sharp personal exchanges. Despite this, Bush’s op-ed does not dwell on past animosities but instead focuses on the broader implications of the Trump case. Following the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Bush was critical of Trump, accusing him of inciting the events. Yet, in defending Trump against the New York ruling, Bush emphasizes the need for a “dispassionate” legal system that does not undermine business confidence or the economy.

The op-ed also touches on the role of New York and Delaware as central to the U.S. business landscape, warning that the judicial decisions in these states could damage their reputations and lead to significant economic and legal repercussions. The authors call for appellate courts to review and potentially mitigate the impact of these rulings.

Trump has appealed the ruling, arguing that the judge and New York Attorney General Letitia James were politically motivated. He has criticized the legal basis of the fine, pointing out the lack of alleged victims or financial loss in his case, a rarity among cases brought under the New York law in question.

Bush and Lonsdale’s defense of Trump, therefore, transcends personal history and political differences, focusing instead on concerns about the integrity of the legal system and its implications for American democracy and economic health. Their call for a balanced and fair judicial process reflects a broader debate about the intersection of law, politics, and business in the United States.

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