While most of former President Donald J. Trump’s Republican rivals have closed ranks around him since his indictment in the classified documents case, two of them — Nikki Haley and Tim Scott — have begun to move away from solely denouncing the Justice Department.

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor who was an ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Trump, continued to claim that the Justice Department and F.B.I. had lost credibility with the American people, but she also acknowledged the seriousness of the charges against Mr. Trump.

“Two things can be true at the same time,” Ms. Haley said, adding that if the indictment was accurate, “President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.”

Ms. Haley’s initial statement on Friday, one day after Mr. Trump’s federal indictment, was an unflagging defense of her onetime boss.

“This is not how justice should be pursued in our country,” she said at the time on Twitter. “The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards and vendetta politics.”

Mr. Scott, a senator who is also from South Carolina and, like Ms. Haley, significantly trails Mr. Trump in the Republican polls, similarly shifted his tone.

During a campaign appearance on Monday in Spartanburg, S.C., Mr. Scott acknowledged the gravity of the charges against Mr. Trump while accusing the Justice Department and President Biden of targeting Republicans for prosecution.

He described it as a “serious case with serious allegations,” according to The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston, S.C.

But in Mr. Scott’s initial reaction on Thursday, on Fox News, he focused solely on claiming that the Justice Department had become weaponized against Republicans.

“Today what we see is a justice system where the scales are weighted,” Mr. Scott said then.

Their stances are still far removed from that of another 2024 contender, former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who has sought to position himself as the candidate most willing to attack Mr. Trump.

Mr. Christie laced into Mr. Trump again during a CNN town-hall event on Monday night, calling him “angry” and “vengeful” and saying that he believed the indictment was “a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment, and the conduct in there is awful.”

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