The chairman of a UK-based Republican group has said a lot of conservatives wish former US president Donald Trump would not run in the forthcoming election.

Greg Swenson, from Republicans Overseas UK, told the PA news agency the latest indictment against Mr Trump was a “weaponisation of the judicial system” but said it would be “better for the party and the country” if he did not run for president again.

Mr Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to trying to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost.

It is the third criminal case brought against him in less than six months, after he was also charged in New York with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actress during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr Trump is also accused of 40 felony counts in Florida, in which he is alleged to have illegally retained classified documents at his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, and refusing government demands to give them back.

Mr Swenson said members of Republicans Overseas UK based in London were “not extremely pro-Trump” but described them as “very conservative philosophically”.

He said the group consists mainly of American ex-pats living in the UK, but also had interest from Britons and other Europeans.

Giving his own views on whether Mr Trump should run for president in next year’s election, he told PA: “I do think we can do better, and I do prefer Ron DeSantis.

“Two reasons, one I think Ron would be a better president and two, he can win.

“Every time I think there’s a chance for governor DeSantis to make a move, there’s more Trump news.

“Democrats have done a brilliant job of keeping the focus on Trump.”

Asked if he believed it would be a better decision for the Republican Party not to let Mr Trump run for election, Mr Swenson said: “Without a doubt – a lot of us just wish he wouldn’t run.

I do think we can do better, and I do prefer Ron DeSantis

Greg Swenson, Republicans Overseas UK

“A lot of us wish the impeachment worked in 2021 – the second one had some legs to it because even if it wasn’t criminal, what he did was very un-presidential and could be considered impeachable.

“This indictment is just a weaponisation of the justice system, but I think it would be better for the party and the country if Trump was not running, but that’s not the way it works, it’s up to the voters.”

Asked whether he thought it would be damaging for the US if Mr Trump was convicted while in office, Mr Swenson said: “Completely damaging – and it makes it look like a banana republic.

“They’re reaching for these legally dubious challenges to affect an election and ruin a president.

“They’ve been harassing him for so long, it makes the country look bad.

“I don’t think it will happen but if it does, yes, very bad news for the country – and frankly, bad news for the Republican Party and bad news for the Democrats.”

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