California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he was saddened as an American to see the federal charges against former President Donald Trump and offered unusual praise for the ex-president for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, weighed in on the indictment accusing Mr. Trump of mishandling classified documents during a sit-down interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Mr. Trump has said he is innocent of the allegations.
“It was sad — and I say that as an American,” Mr. Newsom said in the interview, which aired Monday.
The governor sat down for a rare one-on-one with the conservative network as he raises his national profile in spats with Republican governors, notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, over issues like immigration and gun control.
Mr. Newsom said he had a solid relationship with Mr. Trump after the coronavirus hit, adding that he took flak from fellow Democrats for the cooperation.
“I didn’t have a closed fist, I had an open hand. We actually had an incredible relationship during COVID,” Mr. Newsom said. “He was incredible — he played no politics during COVID with California — none whatsoever. It’s a fact.”
On COVID-19, Mr. Newsom accepted fault for attending a work-related dinner at the upscale French Laundry restaurant even as he told people to stay home and away from each other to avoid viral transmission in late 2020. Advisers described the setting as “outdoors,” but the governor said the optics were awful.
“It was a dumb — it was a terrible mistake,” Mr. Newsom said. “It wasn’t illegal, it was wrong. And I totally violated the spirit of what I was preaching. And it was wrong. And I own that.”
Mr. Newsom also repeated his pledge to appoint a Black woman to the Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, leaves her term early. He said California lost Black representation when Kamala Harris rose to the vice presidency.
“It’s important. It’s historic. I [also] appointed the first Latino in California’s history,” he said. “I thought that was important.”
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