Elon Musk issued a warning to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after former President Donald Trump was indicted on multiple federal charges on Thursday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is believed to have arrived at his office at DOJ headquarters in Washington, but avoided a crush of media. Garland arrived out of view of cameras and the DOJ remained publicly silent Friday morning. The scene was similar throughout the night Thursday, even amid the political storm unleashed by news of the indictment, according to The Associated Press.
"We are just not going to comment on this case,” White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters Friday on Air Force One, “and I’d refer you to the DOJ, which runs its criminal investigations independently.”
She added: “This is a president who respects the rule of law and has said that since day one. That’s precisely why we’re not commenting here. He believes in respecting the independence of the DOJ and protecting the integrity of their processes.”
Dalton said Biden and his staff “found out just like everybody else last night” that Trump was indicted from news reports and that the White House had “no advanced knowledge that this was coming.”
On Friday, Trump said that former prosecutor Todd Blanche will lead his defense in the federal case along with a law firm that will be "named later," replacing his previous layers, John Rowley and Jim Trusty.
Blanche, a respected white-collar defense lawyer, joined Trump’s legal team just before his New York indictment in March. Before that, he was a partner at the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.
Blanche sat by Trump’s side at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a recent video hearing in the New York case and is spearheading efforts to get that matter moved from state court to federal court.
Blanche previously represented former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in getting state mortgage fraud charges thrown out on double jeopardy grounds, arguing the New York case was too similar to one that landed Manafort in federal prison. Blanche also represented Igor Fruman, an associate of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who pleaded guilty in 2021 in a campaign finance case.
Trump also railed against the DOJ in a series of social media posts on Thursday and Friday.
"The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 Boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more Boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time," Trump wrote on Truth Social.
The case, he added, is tantamount to "election interference" and "the greatest witch hunt of all time." The former president indicated that "of course" he would plead not guilty to charges in federal court on Tuesday.
Legal experts say that Trump can still run for and serve as president if he is convicted and sentenced. The U.S. Constitution only bars people under the age of 35, those who were not born in the United States, and those who haven't lived at least 14 years in the United States from running.
Other than Musk, a large number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers reacted to the development, with Democrats saying that the indictment shows that no individual is above the law. Republicans largely said that the case is politically motivated.
Musk, meanwhile, moved to re-instate Trump's Twitter account late last year after the Tesla CEO acquired the company. So far, Trump has not yet posted on the platform, opting instead to use his own Truth Social.
Other major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also reinstated Trump's accounts, respectively, in recent months.