WACO, Texas – Facing possible indictment, a defiant Donald Trump is hoping for a show of strength Saturday as he launches his 2024 presidential campaign in a city known for its deadly resistance to law enforcement. The first rally is being held.
The former president will gather with supporters at an airport in Waco, marking the 30th anniversary of the Waco massacre next month. In 1993, an attempted raid by law enforcement on a compound belonging to the Branch Davidians, a religious sect, led to a shootout that led to a 51-day siege, which resulted in a fire. In which dozens of people died.
The rally comes as Trump has lambasted prosecutors, encouraged protests and raised the prospect of possible violence if he becomes the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges. Some of his recent statements echo the language he used before the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters who wanted to block the transfer of power.
“How can anyone charge another person, in this case the former President of the United States … and the leading candidate for the Republican Party nomination (so far!) with a crime, when everyone knows no crime has been committed?” “Determined, and knowing that the potential death and destruction of such a false accusation could be devastating to our country,” Trump wrote on his social media site Friday morning.
Trump’s campaign insisted that the location and time of the event had nothing to do with the Waco siege or the anniversary. Instead, a spokeswoman said the site was chosen because it is conveniently located near four of the state’s major metropolitan areas — Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — and has a large Infrastructure is in place to handle the crowd.
“This is an ideal location to have as many supporters from across the state and neighboring states as possible for this historic rally,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said.
PHOTOS: Trump rallies supporters in Waco ahead of possible impeachment.
The city is part of McLennan County, which Trump won by more than 23 points in 2020. The airport where the rally is being held is 17 miles from the Branch Davidian compound.
The rally was already in the works before it became clear that a grand jury in New York was nearing a possible indictment as it probed payments to women who had been with Trump. He was accused of sexual encounters during the height of his 2016 election campaign. Trump has denied the women’s claims.
But the timing will give Trump an opportunity to demonstrate his continued popularity with the GOP base and cast himself as the victim of a politically motivated “witch hunt” as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. .
The grand jury investigating the hush money payment is expected to reconvene in New York on Monday.
Trump has spent weeks opposing the investigation. In a move apparently designed to push for an official announcement and bolster his loyal base, he claimed last Saturday that he would be arrested next Tuesday. While that did not happen, Trump used the days that followed to try to shape public perception, claiming, for example, that the Manhattan district attorney’s office had fallen into “complete disarray.” , though there was no evidence that prosecutors were backing down. Problem.
His efforts echoed tactics former presidents have used before, including during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Trump has also launched a series of increasingly personal attacks against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, calling him a “threat to our country” who “must be removed immediately” and increasingly racist and unpopular. Using human rhetoric
On Thursday, he tried to tie Bragg, Manhattan’s first black district attorney, to George Soros, a liberal billionaire donor who does not know Bragg and has not directly donated to him. Trump wrote of Bragg, “a source-backed animal,” adding, “It’s not a legal system, it’s the Gestapo.” He also shared an article with a photo of Bragg with a photo of Trump swinging a baseball bat in Bragg’s direction.
The former president has also been involved in violence several times. Last Saturday, he called on his supporters to “protest, take back our nation!” And on Thursday, he lamented, “Our country is being destroyed, as they tell us to be peaceful!”
A powdery substance along with a threatening letter was found in the mail room of Bragg’s offices on Friday, authorities said. Authorities later determined the substance was not hazardous.
Bragg’s office sent an internal email to staff last Saturday that said, “We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.” After the powder was discovered, Bragg sent another email to the crew telling them their safety was a top priority.
“We will continue to apply the law equally and fairly, as each of you do every day,” he wrote Friday.
Even before the threatening letter was sent to Bragg’s office, Democrats warned that Trump’s remarks had the potential to incite violence.
The rhetoric of the twice-impeached former president is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and he’s going to kill somebody if he keeps it up,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said early Friday.
The Manhattan case centers on a $130,000 payment that longtime Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels while Trump was on the 2016 campaign trail. Trump later reimbursed Cohen and his company applied the payment as legal expenses. Cohen has already served time in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, among other crimes.
Trump is also facing a federal investigation into classified documents and possible obstruction as part of his efforts on January 6 to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
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