DeSantis and Trump trade blows over First Step Act: ‘Basically a jailbreak bill’

Republican presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed on Friday to repeal former President Trump’s First Step Act, asserting that it was “basically a jailbreak bill” and then hit him for not having control over his own agencies.

The act was a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that had the backing of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. It was intended to reduce recidivism and provide a pathway for non-violent prisoners to shorten their sentences while reducing mandatory minimum sentences.

“Under the Trump administration — he enacted a bill, basically a jailbreak bill, it’s called the First Step Act. It has allowed dangerous people out of prison who have now re-offended, and really, really hurt a number of people,” DeSantis asserted during an interview with the Daily Wire.

(Video Credit: Ben Shapiro)

“So one of the things I would want to do as president is go to Congress and seek the repeal of the First Step Act. If you are in jail, you should serve your time. And the idea that they’re releasing people who have not been rehabilitated early so that they can prey on people in our society is a huge, huge mistake,” he admonished.

DeSantis has refrained from personal attacks against Trump while the former president has gone for the jugular against the Florida governor. It appears that DeSantis is sticking to policy issues in his measured forrays against Trump.

According to Fox News, “DeSantis voted for the first version of the bill as a member of the House of Representatives in 2018, the same year he was elected as Florida’s governor, but had resigned before the final, more moderate version of the bill came to a vote in the chamber.”

Trump’s team responded to DeSantis’ comments by pointing to his original vote on the issue. He contended that the Florida Republican was, in essence, criticizing his own supporters in Congress who also voted for the bill.

“Lyin’ Ron. He voted for the First Step Act. Would be a shame if there was video of him praising it in an interview with a local FL television station…” Trump campaign spokesperson Stephen Cheung viciously tweeted in the wake of the DeSantis’ interview using similar rhetoric that Trump used against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the last contest for the Republican nomination.

“DeSantis supporter [Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.] voted for the bill as well. DeSantis is calling out his own Congressional supporters and throwing them under the bus,” he added in another tweet.

The war between DeSantis and Trump is really just getting started although Trump has been savaging DeSantis for months, long before he announced he was running for the presidency.

DeSantis slammed Trump on Thursday over COVID lockdowns in 2020, commenting that Trump had turned “the country over to [Dr. Anthony] Fauci.” He also alluded to Trump fearing him as a rival because “he understands I’m the candidate who can beat him.”

When asked about the 2020 election by Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, DeSantis claimed the problem was that Trump enabled people like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who in turn implemented policies that Democrats at the state level used to put in place voting rules like universal mail-in voting and ballot harvesting.

“I also look at how the federal government colluded with some of the tech companies to censor information like the Hunter Biden story. That’s election interference. It’s totally unfair,” DeSantis stated. “But I would also point out that it was Donald Trump’s FBI and Donald Trump’s DHS that was doing that; he didn’t have control over his own agencies. If somebody in my government were doing that, they would’ve been fired the next day.”

“And so you’ve got to take the responsibility as the candidate to shape the battlefield in a way that’s going to be most advantageous to your side winning,” he noted.

The Florida governor explained how he plans to handle voting issues in the next election.

“So what I’ll do, obviously in Florida we did it very effectively, but nationally, you look to see what the rules of the game are. Yes, we ban ballot harvesting in Florida. That’s what you should do. Yes, we ban Zucker bucks in Florida. That’s what you should do. However, not every state has done that,” DeSantis told the Daily Wire.

“So if you’re in a state like Nevada, that’s a mass mail balloting state with ballot harvesting and Zucker bucks, we will have organizations in place so that we can exploit that system. If you have it in Wisconsin, we will have organizations in place to exploit that system. I think telling people not to send in a mail ballot is a huge mistake and it ends up reducing the pool of prospective voters,” he added.

He also expounded on his reasoning for supporting voting by various means in an election.

“In Florida, we focused on some of these low propensity voters in my reelection. They usually vote in presidential, they don’t always vote in midterm, and we converted a lot of them to vote. Most of them chose to vote by absentee ballot through the mail. That was their choice,” DeSantis remarked.

“If we told them you could only vote on election day, some of them very well may not have voted. So understand the battlefield, it’s your responsibility as a candidate to head off that. But every single candidate that we would nominate is going to face this from the Left, the Democrats, and the media. And what I’ve told people, if you nominate me, I’m not going to make excuses. I’m going to get it done and will be sworn in as president on January 20th, 2025,” he concluded.

In a separate interview, DeSantis told Tennessee radio host Matt Murphy regarding Trump, “It seems like he’s running to the left, and I have always been somebody that’s just been moored in conservative principles. These will be interesting debates to have, but I can tell you, you don’t win nationally by moving to the left. You win nationally by standing for bold policy. We showed that in Florida. I never watered down anything I did.”

So far in the polls, Trump is far ahead of DeSantis which will be hard to overcome. But this contest is just kicking off in what looks to be a fierce fight for the Republican nomination.

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