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Native Americans in the 118th Congress are split on last week’s indictment of former President Donald Trump, who faces a federal indictment brought by Special Prosecutor Jack Smith.

Two Native Americans from Oklahoma — Sen. Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee) and Rep. Josh Brecheen (Choctaw) — came to the defense of Trump in social media posts. Both are members of the Republican party.

Another GOP member of Congress from Oklahoma, Rep. Tom Cole, has not commented publicly on Trump’s indictment.

The other two Native Americans serving in Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) and Mary Peltola (Yupik), both Democrats, said they are putting their faith in the U.S. justice system.

The indictment unsealed on Friday contains 37 charges against the former president. Most of the charges center on allegations Trump willfully kept national defense information, which is a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.

During a short news briefing on Friday Smith invited everyone to read the indictment:

READ FULL INDICTMENT HERE

“This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida, and I invite everyone to read it in full to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged,” Smith said in his statement to the press.

Here’s how Native Americans serving in Congress responded to the indictment: 

Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Cherokee

“Democrats have been coming after Donald Trump since day one. This indictment is nothing new. Once again, the radical Left is weaponizing the Justice Department to attack the leading GOP candidate in the 2024 election cycle. I stand with President Trump,” tweeted Mullin, who is a friend of the former president. 

Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK-2nd District), Choctaw

“This is the first time in American history that the federal gov’t has indicted a president and it is a serious abuse of power by this Admin.,” Brecheen said in a series of three tweets.

“It is obvious that these charges were only brought by the Biden Administration because President Trump is doing well in the polls. To think that Attorney General Garland, placed in power and beholden to Joe Biden, doesn’t have a political reason for this action defies logic.

“Justice isn’t blind if millions in bribe money paid out to the Biden family continues to be swept under the rug by this Department of Justice and FBI while they focus on bogus charges against a former president and current candidate.”

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS-3rd District), Ho-Chunk Nation

“No one is above the law, including elected officials. She has faith in the American justice system and will learn more, alongside the public, as more details are released.” Davids’ spokesman Zac Donley said on her behalf.

Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK-At-Large), Yup’ik

“I am a strong believer in the judiciary and the process that takes place, and I have every confidence that this will go through the process in the right way,” she said, noting that as a legislator “I need to stay in my lane.”

The indictment may affect the business of an already divided Congress, Peltola said.

“I don’t know that it could have gotten worse,” she said. “It may push it in an even worse direction. Things seem to only be getting worse.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4th District), Chickasaw

Native News Online reached out to Rep. Cole yesterday, but did not hear back prior to the publication.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].