Despite intense pressure from the right wing of the Republican Party to demonstrate solidarity with former President Donald Trump following his indictment last week by a Miami grand jury, Congressman Chuck Edwards is pointedly choosing to stay on the sidelines.

The relative silence may speak loudly to constituents who want to know where Edwards stands regarding the GOP’s leading candidate in the early jockeying for the 2024 presidential nomination.

 “Trump was not a factor when he endorsed my opponent last year, and I prefer to stay focused on giving the people of WNC the constituent services they expect and deserve,” Edwards said in a terse response to an Asheville Watchdog request for comment Saturday, seemingly implying that he owes Trump nothing for his own success.

By staying mum on the historic indictments of the former president, the congressman risks leaving the impression that he has no interest in taking swipes at President Biden or the Justice Department as many other Republicans are demanding. 

 The freshman lawmaker from Hendersonville, whose 11th Congressional District includes 15 counties in Western North Carolina including Buncombe, narrowly won the GOP nomination in 2022 by defeating the controversial incumbent Madison Cawthorn. 

Cawthorn, then and now, described himself as an “ultra MAGA.” He was the only member of the North Carolina congressional delegation to attend Trump’s campaign kick off at Mar-a-Lago last summer, just weeks after he lost to Edwards.

During the primary campaign to oust Cawthorn and throughout the general election Edwards carefully avoided alienating the district’s substantial bloc of pro-Trump voters by sidestepping all comment about the former president.  He was especially careful to duck questions seeking his view of Trump’s baseless claim that he had won the 2020 presidential race but was the victim of political fraud.

Budd and Tillis issue statements

In refusing to show support for Trump in the current case by echoing GOP attacks on the Biden administration and Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, Edwards joins fellow Republicans Thom Tillis and Ted Budd, the state’s US senators. 

Budd, who had benefited from a Trump endorsement in his 2022 Senate campaign, chose to mimic an anodyne line used by Smith in announcing the 37-count felony indictment against Trump on Friday.  In a statement Budd wrote: “In America, citizens are innocent until proven guilty. We must ensure that justice is administered without political bias, and the American people are rightly skeptical that the Biden administration is able to do that.”

Tillis also opened his statement by declaring that, “There is always a presumption of innocence in America, and that applies to former President Trump.” 

He then gently admonished “Democratic politicians [who are] cheering this indictment” by writing that President Biden also is being investigated by another Justice Department special prosecutor for possibly mishandling classified documents when Biden was vice president and in the Senate.  Unlike Trump, however, Biden has cooperated fully in that investigation and has assisted in locating such documents.

Tillis has a history of anti-Trump activity, including publicly blaming the ex-president for fomenting the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. The state GOP convention formally censured Tillis on Saturday for that activity, which its resolution said demonstrated “a blatant violation of the party platform.” Later that day, Trump appeared at the North Carolina Republican convention in Greensboro where he denounced the indictment.

Edwards’ refusal to comment on the Trump indictment appears especially mild in comparison to the statements issued by Tillis and Budd, which themselves likely did little to gain approval from Trump loyalists. Edwards is also regarded as a Tillis protégé who benefited from Tillis’ support in taking on Cawthorn and who shared with him a political consulting team.

In the days leading up to the indictment, Edwards focused his attention on bills intending to prevent the federal government from outlawing gas stoves and restricting modifications to pistols. He also announced plans to organize and moderate a two-hour “anti-crime summit” in Asheville on June 16.

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Tom Fiedler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter and former executive editor of The Miami Herald. Email

15 replies on “Chuck Edwards ignores GOP appeals to decry Trump’s federal indictment”

  1. I’s say that is a good calculated response…but hope he supports Tim Scott R-SC for the nomination !

  2. Thanks for publishing this. I was wondering where Rep. Edwards stood on this. While I have very different political positions from Mr. Edwards, as well as Mr. Tillis & Mr. Budd, I respect and appreciate their integrity in walking the lines they are walking!

  3. Will the Watchdog offer any fact checking on Congressman Edwards upcoming “crime summit”?

  4. Thank you for NOT succumbing to pressure to support someone as evil as Trump. Trump, the man who tried to take over our country with his lies, deceit & his try of a military takeover of the U.S.A.

  5. The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of the American Justice System. All who support it are in my favor.

  6. Likely more a political calculus by Edwards than a streak of ethical views. He had a tough race against Beach-Ferrara and is looking ahead with his finger in thec we wind. Don’t they all. Still, a welcome position given the sorry state of his party, both nationally and in NC.

    1. nfpeters51, congressman edwards had a tough primary race against Mr. cawthorne. He won his race against Ms. beach- ferrara easily ,by appx. 9% points ( or 30,000 votes) . accuracy please.

  7. I hope that the Watchdog attends the upcoming Edwards crime summit and applies whatever influence the Watchdog has to encourage our local government folks to attend, keeping petty partisan politics out of it. If the area is to get any federal grants, etc to assist in crime prevention, housing or whatever smoozing Congressman Edwards is a good place to start.

  8. I would prefer to hold Congressman Edwards feet to the fire on grants and assistance for Asheville rather than schmoozing. It is his district, we are his constituents and it is his responsibility.

  9. I will be attending this summit on fri. I feel that since we have been asking for help, and if Mr. edwards is willing to bring together the stakeholders, we should show up to listen. I also want to see if any of Asheville or Buncombe leaders will show up or if the fact that it is a Republican holding the event will keep them away. If they are not their, then they are part of the problem and should get out of the way for serious leadership to take over who will work with anyone who is willing to come up with solutions.

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