Since he first entered politics in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump has had a knack for achieving “firsts” — the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, the first president to lose the popular vote twice, and, as of today (April 4), the first former president to face criminal charges. The onetime “Apprentice” host flew back home to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida immediately after the arraignment and addressed his supporters just a few hours after his historic arrest.
Most criminal defendants are advised by their lawyers to keep quiet about ongoing investigations. But Trump didn’t receive a gag order in the case, allowing him to speak on it how he pleases, even if his legal team objects. He took the opportunity Tuesday evening to give a speech at Mar-a-Lago flanked by allies like Roger Stone and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
“I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” he told the cheering crowd after taking the podium. “The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.” Watch a clip from the address below.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 5, 2023
Trump has invoked cries of a partisan “witch hunt” for years every time he’s faced with consequences for his actions. In his speech tonight, he cited the Mueller investigation, his two impeachments, and the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago regarding classified documents in August 2022. The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation is the latest to fall into that category. He blasted Alvin Bragg, the “George Soros-backed” DA who brought the indictment, claiming Bragg has a personal vendetta against him. “It’s an insult to our country as the world is already laughing at us,” he lamented. “Our justice system has become lawless.”
He also noted the “racist” DA in Fulton County, Georgia who is allegedly preparing to indict him on separate charges. That case relates to what he called a “perfect phone call” that is being pursued as interference in the 2020 election.
Trump also lambasted Judge Juan Merchan and his family in his speech after Merchan reportedly asked Trump not to incite violence. The judge set the next in-person hearing in the case for Dec. 4. Trump remains a declared candidate vying for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Watch Trump’s full Mar-a-Lago speech below.
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