Fox News host Pete Hegseth said Donald Trump’s indictment by a Manhattan grand jury will turn him into a hero for Americans and his mugshots will be in T-shirts and dorm rooms.
Hegseth compared Mr Trump to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Sinatra, in remarks that received applause and cheers from the live audience.
“If this is not a close ranks moment then I don’t know what it is,” said Hegseth, co-host of Fox News Channel’s (FNC) FOX & Friends Weekend.
“This is a horrible night for the republic but politically a great night for Donald Trump,” he said.
“If there is a mug shot of Donald Trump it will be on dorm rooms and on T-shirts making him a hero. And rightfully so because he has become a symbol of what elites and those obsessed with power are willing to do when they have that power,” he said.
On Thursday, Mr Trump became the first former president in US history to face criminal charges as the Manhattan grand jury investigating his role in a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels voted to indict him.
Multiple reports suggested that Mr Trump is facing more than 30 charges, though no specific charges or exact nature is known yet because the indictment remained under seal.
The report prompted senior right-wing figures to express shock over the news. They claimed the former president was being unfairly persecuted.
They predicted that it would only give a boost to his 2024 bid for the White House.
“This is totally unacceptable and a disgrace to this country,” said Fox News channel host Jesse Watters.
“This is repulsive,” said Fox’s Sean Hannity who interviewed Mr Trump on his show three days ago. “This is a disgusting political hit job the likes of which we have never seen in this country anymore.”
Mr Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case and has repeatedly assailed the investigation, said the indictment was “political persecution”.
He predicted it would damage Democrats in 2024. In a statement confirming the charges, defence lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said Mr Trump “did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in court”.