Arkansas GOP chairman urges caution on Trump indictment until charges are known

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,517 views 

Republican Party of Arkansas chairman Cody Hiland, a former local and U.S. Prosecuting Attorney, said there is much distrust in the justice system and he urged caution in reacting to the news last week that former President Donald Trump was indicted.

Hiland, appearing in Sunday’s Capitol View TV program, said the charges in the indictment are unknown at this time, even though it is widely accepted it will relate to payments in a sex scandal between Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels.

“I think too much speculation on that is too early right now,” Hiland said. “I’m more concerned about a bigger thing than politics and that is the system of justice and people’s faith in that. Prosecutors hold an office of public trust, and we have to earn that trust. So, we don’t ever want people to think … There are people who disagree with decisions that I’ve made. I don’t think they ever questioned my motivation. If people ever start questioning your motivation and what’s driving you and whether there’s integrity associated with that, that’s when we get into a real problem. So, I think right now, the biggest thing is we don’t know what’s in it [indictment], so let’s see what’s in it, and then you go from there.”

The lack of known charges hasn’t stopped many Republicans at the state and national level from commenting on Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor in the case, and his motivations.

“EVERYBODY KNOWS I’M 100% INNOCENT, INCLUDING BRAGG, BUT HE DOESN’T CARE. HE IS JUST CARRYING OUT THE PLANS OF THE RADICAL LEFT LUNATICS,” Trump said in a Truth Social post. He also accused Bragg of carrying out orders from billionaire George Soros, a supporter of left-wing causes and politicians.

“The weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda turns the rule of law on its head,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in an effort to discredit Bragg. DeSantis has also said his state would not cooperate with New York authorities on arresting Trump.

In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Sanders, who served as Trump’s White House press secretary, took after Bragg despite a lack of known charges in the indictment. “Americans should stand united in opposition to the Democrats’ politicization of our justice system and refusal to lock up violent criminals in favor of prosecuting their political opponents. D.A. Bragg should resign for his abuse of power and targeting Donald Trump,” she said in a Twitter statement Friday (March 31).

“Such weaponization of our justice system stands to set an unprecedented and dangerous standard and hurt the faith Americans have in our justice system,” said U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock.

“This indictment fulfills the campaign pledge of Democrat Alvin Bragg, a George Soros backed public official. Far left partisans using cooked up charges to lock up their political opponents is a practice of banana republics, not freedom loving nations. These tactics have no place in America,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.

Hiland was elected to serve as the prosecuting attorney for the 20th Judicial District of Arkansas in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. He also served as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2017 to 2020 during the Trump administration. He was tabbed as chairman of the Arkansas GOP in December 2022. Hiland said prosecutors have “an incredible responsibility” in the judicial system.

“The decision to charge someone with a crime is a gravity-filled decision. It should be approached soberly and seriously, and it’s an incredible responsibility. Prosecutors are a little bit different than other attorneys too, right? It’s not to win at all costs. Prosecutors are charged with seeking justice, and so that means that sometimes, you have to drop a case. We had to drop a homicide case because at the end of the day, one of our witnesses, it was clear to us after the fact that they had been lying to us, and so again, it’s not win at all costs. It’s seeking justice, and justice in that case was dropping the case,” he recalled.

“As it relates to the Trump indictment, in our time as a local prosecutor, we prosecuted several public officials, and so I believe in the idea that nobody is above the law, but when you do that, again, you have to approach it with great sense of seriousness, and you better have three things. You better have the evidence, you better have credibility built up in the bank with the people that you serve, and you’ve got to have discipline. What I mean by that is you can’t let your emotion factor into the decision. You can’t let political pressure factor into the decision,” Hiland said.

“As it relates to President Trump’s situation, we haven’t seen the file. We don’t know what evidence exists, but I can tell you that having not seen the file … C.S. Lewis said one time, ‘I don’t have to be a dentist to know that my teeth hurt. I don’t have to be a cobbler to know that my shoes don’t fit,’ and I don’t have to be in this file to know that I’ve got some red flags here just from what you read in the paper and the approach that’s been taken with this case.

“So, to me, it’s more about the system. What we can’t have is a politically motivated case with weak evidence brought because right now, there are millions of people in this country who question the justice system,” he said.

Hiland also discussed the criminal justice package moving through the state legislature as well as social issues legislation led by Republicans at the capitol. You can watch his full interview in the video below.