The former president has sharply criticized Special Counsel Jack Smith and argued that the case against him was politically motivated and fragile. « These are thugs and degenerates chasing me, » he said.
Trump predicted he would not be convicted and said he did not anticipate taking a plea deal, though he left open the possibility of doing so « where they pay me damages. »
He sidestepped the possibility that he would have forgiven himself if he won the presidency in 2024. « I don’t think I’ll ever have to do that, » Trump said. « I haven’t done anything wrong. »
While Trump said campaign fundraising has skyrocketed since the indictment was handed down, he admitted it was an unwelcome development.
« Nobody wants to be indicted, » Trump said. “I don’t care if the number of my polls has increased by a lot. I don’t want to be indicted. I’ve never been charged. I’ve been through it all my life, now I get indicted every two months. It was political.
He has repeatedly invoked the Presidential Records Act to claim he did nothing wrong, a vigorously contested interpretation of the law that Trump has offered previously.
Trump’s remarks came as he flew between speeches to Republicans in Georgia and North Carolina. The trip came a day after Smith unsealed a 37-count indictment against Trump, including charges of violating the Espionage Act, withholding confidential documents and obstruction of justice. Trump is expected to appear in court on Tuesday in Miami.
Trump’s personal valet, Waltine Nauta, has also been charged. Nauta was seen traveling with Trump on Saturday, and the aide followed Trump out of his SUV upon arrival at the Newark, NJ airport en route to Georgia.
Trump is also facing an indictment in New York, stemming from allegations that he withheld cash payments from porn actress Stormy Daniels. He is also under investigation in Georgia for his efforts to lobby officials to overturn the state’s 2020 vote count. Smith is also investigating Trump’s role in instigating the January 6 Capitol riot.
What role the latest indictment will play in the GOP presidential primaries is not yet clear, though in the wake of the New York indictment the former president has seen an increase in his polling numbers and fundraising support as Republican voters they gathered around him.
The Trump campaign is looking to replicate the performance, with his team sending appeals to supporters in hopes of generating small-dollar contributions.
Throughout Saturday, there were signs that Trump’s staunchest supporters were untouched by the news. Supporters lined the side of the highway that runs parallel to the runway at the Columbus, Georgia airport, many waving flags and standing atop trucks to get a view of the emblazoned « Trump » jet landing. Upon disembarking, he was greeted by a group of supporters on the tarmac, some holding « witch hunt » signs.
At the Georgia state party convention, the crowd was packed with people wearing « Make America Great Again » hats, and some audience members yelled « We love you » as the former president spoke.
Soon after, Trump made a stop at a Waffle House restaurant where he was mobbed by diehard fans, one of whom offered to give the meatloaf-loving former president a copy of his mother’s recipe. Then Trump headed to the airport, where he posed for photos with police officers.
In an indication of the grip Trump maintains on his party’s congressional wing, the former president was joined on the trail by North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, a Trump supporter who oversees the House GOP campaign arm. Trump was also joined by Marjorie Taylor Greenean ardent Congresswoman from Georgia and staunch ally.
But the classified documents case — and the detailed 49-page indictment that resulted from it — is widely seen as far more serious than New York’s, and the former president’s opponents are hoping his legal troubles will distract him. from the countryside.