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DeSantis says "voters have to make a decision" on Trump's legal woes

DeSantis discusses potential Trump indictment
DeSantis discusses potential Trump indictment, state of campaign 09:36

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said it's up to voters to decide whether former President Donald Trump's legal woes are disqualifying, as Trump faces the possibility of a third criminal indictment. 

DeSantis made the comments in an interview Thursday in Iowa with CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, on the same day Trump's attorneys met with federal prosecutors in the special counsel's office in Washington, D.C. 

The Florida governor has staked out a middle ground on the topic of Trump's ongoing legal battles, often accusing federal prosecutors of going forward with politically motivated indictments, though he also stops short of defending Trump. 

"At the end of the day, voters make that decision," DeSantis told O'Keefe. "Some people ask me like, 'Well, if somebody's indicted, should they be able to run?' The problem is we've seen political indictments. I mean, I think Bragg was political. You have these other — these people. So, that would just give any prosecutor the ability to — to render someone ineligible. So, I've not said that. But I also think just at the end of the day, the election's got to be about the future."

Trump announced last week that he was told on Sunday, July 16, that he was a target of a grand jury probe into attempts to interfere with the results of the 2020 presidential election and peaceful transfer of power. 

In the interview, the Florida governor also defended the Sunshine State's new middle-school social studies standards, which instruct teachers to include in their lessons how "slaves developed skills" that could be used for their "personal benefit," according to a copy of the state's academic standards

Vice President Kamala Harris made a trip to Florida and railed against the standards, saying Florida officials are trying to "replace history with lies." And conservative GOP Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, who is Black, has called on Florida to "correct" the standards. DeSantis aides clashed with Donalds and blasted him on social media, asking if Harris had written his comments on the issue. 

DeSantis insists he and his team aren't "picking a fight" with Donalds, who has endorsed Trump for president.

"It's not picking a fight," DeSantis said. "It's — look, at the end of the day, Floridians stand up for Florida. Don't side with Kamala Harris and liberals who are demagoguing this. These are people that worked really hard on this. Our State Board of Education approved it. You had nobody raising a ruckus about this until it became convenient to try to do it so I would just say, you know, I'd ask all my colleagues in Florida, stand up for your state. Don't side with Kamala Harris."

DeSantis has been rebooting his campaign, shaving more than a third of his campaign staff from the payroll in an effort to keep him afloat into the fall, CBS News reported this week. He is running in second place behind Trump in most polls, but much can change in the months ahead. The first Republican primary debate is set for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. 

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.

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