Gov.Ron DeSantis of Florida escalated his hostilities with former President Donald J.
Trump on Friday, arguing that his Republican presidential rival was weak on crime and immigration, and accusing him of ceding critical decision-making during the coronavirus pandemic to Dr.Anthony S.
Fauci.In an appearance with the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, Mr.DeSantis accused Mr.
Trump, the G.O.P.front-runner, of “moving left” on criminal justice and immigration issues after winning over the party’s base in 2015 and 2016.He pledged that he would repeal what is known as the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice measure signed into law by Mr.
Trump in 2018 that expanded early-release programs and modified sentencing laws, including mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.“He enacted a bill, basically a jailbreak bill,” Mr.DeSantis said.
“It has allowed dangerous people out of prison who have now reoffended and really, really hurt a number of people.”This year, The New York Times reported that Mr.DeSantis and his allies saw the criminal justice bill, which Mr.
Trump signed at the urging of his son-in-law Jared Kushner — and instantly regretted — as an area of political weakness, and that Mr.DeSantis had signaled he would use it in the nomination fight.
The bill is unpopular with parts of Mr.Trump’s hard-core base.But for Mr.
DeSantis, assailing Mr.Trump over the First Step Act is potentially complicated.
Mr.DeSantis himself voted for the first version of the bill when he was in Congress, and Trump allies have sought to highlight that fact.“So now Swampy Politician Ron DeSanctimonious is claiming he voted for it before he voted against it,” Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr.
Trump, said in a statement.“He sounds just like John Kerry.
What a phony! He can’t run away from his disastrous, embarrassing, and low-energy campaign announcement.Rookie mistakes and unforced errors — that’s who he is.”(Mr.