Western Conservatives Say New Trump Charges Are Politically Motivated

Although attendees of Friday’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver say new indictments against former President Donald Trump are politically motivated, many said they still aren’t sure which Republican they will back for president in 2024.

Leo Wolfson

June 09, 20236 min read

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Attendees at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver on Friday weren’t swayed in their opinions of former President Donald Trump after new indictment charges were announced against him the day before.

Wyoming resident Nathan Winters, president of the Wyoming Family Alliance and Wyoming Family Foundation, said Trump has been implicated in so many federal charges he’s lost track of which ones are new.

“At this point, I don’t pay attention to the cases,” he said. “There’s so many cases at this point it’s difficult to keep up with as they continue to try and push against him.”

The federal criminal charges lodged against Trump on Thursday accuse him of mishandling classified documents he kept upon leaving office, and then obstructing government efforts to reclaim them.

‘Banana Republic’

John Graboski, a Colorado legislative liaison for the Convention of States movement, said the indictment against Trump is indicative of America’s continuing trend toward a banana republic.

“Here it is,” he said. “It’s presidential abuse and illegal misuse of powers. God damn these people.”

Graboski questions why Republicans aren’t fighting harder against the allegations made against Trump and not attempting to file similar charges on President Joe Biden and members of his administration. 

He has little faith that fighting the charges at the ballot box will resolve the problem, as he believes voter turnout measures such as absentee ballots and early voting are vehicles for cheating and fraud.

“We’re not going to vote our way out of this,” he said. “Voter fraud and election cheating has made it impossible.”

Graboski, who described the mainstream Republican Party as “the idiot party,” said if the 2024 GOP candidates for president had courage and responsibility, they would immediately suspend their campaigns and throw their support behind Trump for president instead of competing against him.

“Why aren’t they fighting back?” Graboski questioned. “Good God, would we have a picnic if we had went after what (former President Barack) Obama did.”

But Do They Support Him For President?

There was no outright showing of support for Trump’s bid for a second term at the summit, where a variety of topics like religion, education and gun rights were discussed.

Trump wasn’t mentioned directly or indirectly during Friday morning’s slate of speakers. 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is running against Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination for president, never mentioned the former president in his speech, although he has criticized him publicly numerous times in the past.

Hutchinson received a few boos and tepid support from the roughly 200 people in the audience.

Winters said he’s keeping an open mind as to which Republican candidate he will support in 2024.

“I am looking for a traditional conservative, a conservative with intellectually muscular conservative beliefs that will fight fort Wyoming and true American values,” he said.

Silas Thoennes
Silas Thoennes (Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily)

Silas Thoennes, a recent high school graduate from Texas, was attending the Summit as part of the Patriot Academy program he’s in. The Patriot Academy is a conservative organization that aims to provide youth with opportunities to engage with and participate in government and politics.

Thoennes said he believes the charges against Trump are politically motivated.

“The prosecutors are totally partisan,” he said.

Thoennes also theorizes that federal prosecutors are attempting to draw Trump into the limelight so that he can win the Republican nomination for president.

A supporter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Thoennes doesn’t like Trump’s chances against President Joe Biden in a rematch of the 2020 election and believes federal prosecutors agree. He said at least 50% of the Patriot Academy student body shares that belief.

“Biden’s whole campaign is, ‘I’m not Trump,’” Thoennes said. “I think the left wants to get Trump the nomination.”

Cheyenne resident Diane Morrison also was at Friday’s event. She didn’t want to comment on Trump’s new charges, but said she was thoroughly impressed with the speech given by Wyoming congresswoman Harriet Hageman. Hageman was endorsed by Trump in her 2022 campaign and has given him her endorsement for president in 2024.

“She’s such a fighter and on the front lines,” Morrison said. “She talked about the same issues she campaigned on. She’s kept her word about what she said she was going to do.”

Delegation Response

Wyoming’s congressional delegation expressed universal opposition to the new charges filed against Trump on Thursday.

“This indictment certainly looks like an unequal application of justice,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said on Twitter on Friday afternoon. “Nobody is above the law. Yet it seems like some are.”

Barrasso mentioned how classified documents were found in Biden’s garage from his time as vice president under former President Barack Obama, but he hasn’t faced charges. Biden said he took the documents by accident, an assertion many Democrats have agreed with.

Prosecutors have said Trump actively resisted efforts to retrieve the documents and didn’t provide all of the documents requested after multiple attempts. Trump has argued that he declassified all the material he took with him after his time at the White House.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis gave a little more credence to the charges than Barrasso.

She said in a Friday afternoon Twitter post the Department of Justice has been weaponized under Biden against his possible future opponent, but also said she has “serious concerns” about classified documents being handled improperly. Lummis believes all leaders should be held to the same standard on the issue.

“The question is, will he (Biden) be held to the same standard as President Trump?” she questioned.

Hageman was the first member of the delegation to comment on the matter, issuing a press release Thursday evening.

A land and water attorney, she described the federal government’s case against Trump as “ridiculously weak.” She believes like Thoennes that the charges are politically motivated and only brought because Trump is running for office again.

“The criminal prosecution of political adversaries is something that Third World countries do, and it’s the sort of thing that the United States of America used to be against,” Hageman said. “In Joe Biden’s America, the federal government is mobilized against political enemies in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial power.”

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter