WACO, Texas (AP) — Facing a potential indictment, Donald Trump took a defiant stance at a rally Saturday in Waco, disparaging the prosecutors investigating him and predicting his vindication as he rallied supporters in a city made famous by deadly resistance against law enforcement. With a hand over his heart, Trump stood at attention when […]
Donald Trump casts 2024 contest in apocalyptic terms, slams prosecutors (AUDIO)
WACO, Texas (AP) — Facing a potential indictment, Donald Trump took a defiant stance at a rally Saturday in Waco, disparaging the prosecutors investigating him and predicting his vindication as he rallied supporters in a city made famous by deadly resistance against law enforcement.
With a hand over his heart, Trump stood at attention when his rally opened with a song called “Justice for All” performed by a choir of people imprisoned for their roles in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Some footage from the incident was shown on big screens displayed at the rally site as the choir sang the national anthem and a recording played of Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The extraordinary display opened Trump’s first rally of his 2024 Republican presidential campaign. He then launched into a speech and framed the probes, including a New York grand jury investigation, as political attacks on him and his followers.
“You will be vindicated and proud,” Trump said “The thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.”
Trump’s event at the airport grounds in Waco was part of a broader effort by the former president to use the potential indictment as a rallying cry for supporters to maintain his status as the GOP frontrunner in what is expected to be a crowded primary.
Trump declared his innocence in the Manhattan investigation into a hush money payment made during the 2016 election to porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier. A grand jury hearing the case is expected to meet again on Monday.
Trump said the Manhattan district attorney was investigating him “for something that is not a crime, not a misdemeanor, not an affair.”
Trump declared Saturday that his “enemies are desperate to stop us” and that “our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will.”
He added: “But they failed. They’ve only made us stronger. And 2024 is the final battle, it’s going to be the big one. You put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again.”
Trump could be indicted soon by a Manhattan grand jury investigating a $130,000 payment that Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, made as Trump was in the throes of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump later reimbursed Cohen and his company logged the reimbursements as a legal expense. Cohen has already served time in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, among other crimes.
Trump criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for president and is seen as his strongest potential challenger for the GOP nomination. Trump called his onetime ally disloyal and said he was “dropping like a rock.”
Audience members were holding red and white signs handed out by the campaign that said “Witch Hunt,” “Trump 2024” and “I stand with Trump.”
Hours before Trump arrived, hundreds of his supporters began streaming into the airport past vendors selling merchandise including Trump flags, bumper stickers and action figures.
Among them was Eugene Torres, 41, who said he was unfazed by the prospect that Trump could be indicted.
“It’s just another political attack on him to keep him from running and winning this race again,” said Torres, who is from the Texas coast city of Corpus Christi.
Alan Kregel, 56, traveled with his wife from Dallas to see Trump in person for the first time. While he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, he said he felt the former president’s “methods and vocabulary” often detracted from his policies. But now, two years out of office, he said he is more supportive of Trump than he was before.
“He’s an innocent man, just persecuted,” said Kregel, arguing an indictment would help Trump win in 2024.