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After indictment, Georgia Republicans are on Trump's side

SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:

As the Justice Department charged Donald Trump with allegedly mishandling classified documents, Georgia state Republicans prepared to host the former president at their annual convention. NPR's Lisa Hagen brings us these reactions from the convention floor in Columbus, Ga.

ARTHUR HAMPTON: I think they're really just out to get him. I mean, it just seems like attack, attack, attack, attack, attack.

LISA HAGEN, BYLINE: Arthur Hampton is manning the John Birch Society booth at the convention. The ultra-right-wing anti-communist group born of the 1950s Red Scare is notorious for trafficking in conspiracy theories, the kinds born from both real investigations and from political legend.

HAMPTON: And then when you got blatant evidence of Hunter Biden's laptop and all the Clintons running around suiciding, and people and nothing's being done about that at all, it's a witch hunt is what it is.

HAGEN: Hampton sees Trump's latest indictment as just more proof of a corrupt deep state plot. But it's not just at the Bircher booth where people feel this way. Rocky Fox (ph) is a fairly new delegate from just west of Athens, Ga. He's wearing a baseball cap that reads Defund the FBI.

ROCKY FOX: You're going to have to strip it down several layers from the top all the way down to a - if you can find a functional layer. I don't think the FBI's got one. They're totally corrupt all the way through.

HAGEN: This current indictment is just one of the outstanding investigations facing Trump. While some are at the federal level, others are local, like here in Georgia, where the former president is being investigated for his efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. Many of the former president's biggest supporters here are resentful of the current governor and secretary of state they think didn't do enough to help Trump win the last election. Right now, though, the focus is on the Department of Justice.

MIKE WELSH: We've moved to a crazy world.

HAGEN: That's Mike Welsh. He's shaking hands in the convention center lobby, asking delegates to reelect him as Republican Party secretary. He says the Democrats won't always be in the White House, in control of the DOJ, and they need to remember that.

WELSH: Because once you start going down a slippery slope, it's hard to get back because the party in power will one day not be the party in power, no matter how hard you try. So everybody needs to be careful with what you wish for.

HAGEN: Maria Shoemaker is with the Georgia Federation of Republican Women. She says it's time to move on from the past.

MARIA SHOEMAKER: I think they just needed to leave him alone. I mean, he's not the president - Biden's the president - but it's like they're still going after him.

HAGEN: Shoemaker likes Trump, but she's open to other presidential candidates' messages as well. Her biggest worry is these indictments making it harder to unify the party. From Columbus, Ga., I'm Lisa Hagen, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lisa Hagen is a reporter at WABE.
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