« These people won’t stop and they are mean and we have to get rid of them, » Trump told an audience gathered by the Georgia Republican Party. “These criminals cannot be rewarded. They must be defeated. »
But while that strategy has helped Trump turn the scandals he’s faced over the years into political strengths, the new and highly detailed case will test the limits of that strategy in ways Trump has never faced before.
Smith’s indictment suggests that Trump personally directed aides to place highly confidential documents in cardboard boxes that he ordered shipped to Mar-a-Lago when his presidency expired. When the National Archives and the Justice Department attempted to recover them, the Justice Department says, Trump ordered a valet to transfer dozens of boxes so they would not be found.
The indictment includes 31 counts of « willful retention » of classified documents, many of which are described as military secrets of foreign governments, including allies. Six of the charges against Trump and his body man, Walt Nauta, were also for obstructing a grand jury investigation.
Trump has made no secret of his plan to retract the indictment against him — brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith — as secretly engineered by President Joe Biden, although the White House and the Justice Department have gone to great lengths to keep a wall between them. them the question.
« This is a sick nest of people that needs to be cleaned up, » he proclaimed.
Trump used his remarks to demean both Smith — whom he called « deranged » — and the case Smith assembled against him, which was based on extraordinary evidence gathered by Mar-a-Lago employees, Trump’s close advisers. and even one of his lawyers – Evan Corcoran – who was ordered by a judge to testify before the grand jury investigating the matter.
Smith on Friday released his first public statement since taking over the investigation in November, saying “Laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States and must be enforced.
« Breaches of these laws put our country at risk, » he said.
Trump also previewed some of his legal defenses, citing Bill Clinton’s decision to store tapes of a reporter interview at his home rather than turn them over to the National Archives. Trump said the Presidential Records Act allowed him to remove any records created during his administration, even if classified, and to convert them into his personal property and remove them at his convenience.
Trump’s combative attitude was also evident in his fellow traveler en route to the speech in Georgia.
Trump drove to the rally from his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, early Saturday morning with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was one of its staunchest defenders.
En route to the event, supporters lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the motorcade, and some held up « Witch Hunt » signs to greet him as he stepped off the plane. In the room, he was treated like a conquering hero. The crowd was filled with red hats and Trump supporters, people holding up their phones to take a picture. The audience exploded when he was introduced.