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Sen. Rick Scott of Florida shows up at New York City trial to defend Donald Trump

'It’s a crime in this country to use the court system to go after your political opponents,' Scott said. 'What is happening in this courtroom is clearly criminal.'

TALLAHASSEE – Before adult film star Stormy Daniels testified for a second day in former President Donald Trump’s hush money cover-up trial in New York City, the Republican presidential contender had a defender Thursday outside the courthouse:

Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

“I’m here because I’ve known Donald Trump a long time, I knew him before I was governor. I consider him a friend,” Scott said before a FOX News TV camera. “What he is going through is just despicable.”

Trump is barred by a judicial gag order from attacking the prosecutors in the case, but Scott was able to unleash a partisan blast that was immediately aired on the X account of a Trump-allied Super PAC.

“It’s a crime in this country to use the court system to go after your political opponents,” Scott said. “What is happening in this courtroom is clearly criminal.”

Rick Scott was early supporter of Trump, still stands by ex-president

Scott was a relatively early endorser of Trump in 2016 and has stuck by the president. That allegiance to the former president, who polls show is leading President Biden in Florida, may be helpful to Scott this year as he runs for a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Elected twice as governor and once as a U.S. Senate candidate, Scott has never won by a margin of more than 1.2% of the vote.

A leading Democratic rival, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Miami, likened Scott to a “fan waiting for a selfie.”

“Maybe someone should remind Scott that rather than sitting in New York trying to suck up to a defendant found liable for sexual abuse, he should be at work, focusing on lowering costs, securing our border and protecting democracy,” Mucarsel-Powell said, citing a jury’s decision last year awarding columnist E. Jean Carroll $5 million for being sexually abused by Trump during a 1996 encounter.

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Mucarsel-Powell also was critical of Scott for missing a Senate vote Thursday on a procedural motion tied to a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration. The measure, however, passed by a wide margin.

Trump is charged with falsifying business records to conceal payments to Daniels, who said she and Trump had sex in a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006. During the trial New York prosecutors are trying to prove that Trump arranged payments from 2015 to 2017 to conceal his relationship with Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, fearing they would damage his presidential campaign.

Rick Scott not alone in defending Trump during trial

Scott is among the more prominent figures to show up at the New York courthouse in support of Trump.

Last week, Trump was joined by Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas and Dave McIntosh, leader of the anti-tax Club for Growth.

Another spotted in the Trump courtroom: Jacksonville’s Susie Wiles, senior adviser to the former president’s current White House campaign.

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