Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday said he does not agree with the criminal charges brought against former U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Supposedly legal issues should not be used for electoral, political purposes,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference. “That’s why I don’t agree with what they are doing to ex-President Trump.”
Trump was charged on Tuesday with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a historic case over allegations he orchestrated hush-money payments to two women before the 2016 U.S. election to suppress publication of their sexual encounters with him.
Trump, the first sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal charges, pleaded not guilty.
Leftist populist Lopez Obrador compared Trump’s case to the December ouster of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, who was removed from office and arrested after trying to dissolve congress.
“It should be the people who decide,” said Lopez Obrador, who said he could not say whether Trump was guilty or not.
Lopez Obrador, who took office in 2018, developed a friendly working relationship with then-counterpart Trump, despite the U.S. president launching his election campaign in 2015 by calling Mexicans rapists and drug runners and promising to make Mexico pay for a border wall.
Lopez Obrador in November publicly called for Twitter to reinstate Trump’s then-banned account on the social media platform.
Lopez Obrador’s motivations for defending Trump may be personal.
Beginning in 2004, Lopez Obrador, then the mayor of Mexico City and the frontrunner for Mexico’s presidential election in 2006, was the subject of a judicial process that he said was a political plot by Mexico’s then-President Vicente Fox.
The federal government’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to put Lopez Obrador on trial for charges of contempt of court threatened to keep him from running for president.
Lopez Obrador went on to lose the 2006 and 2012 presidential election – results he did not accept, alleging massive voter fraud.