Trump holds first 2024 campaign rally
Former US President Donald Trump held the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas.
Trump, who is facing potential indictment, opened Saturday’s rally by playing a song, “Justice for All,” that features a choir of men imprisoned for their role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol singing the national anthem and a recording of Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
In his speech, Trump defended the insurrectionists, saying they will be “vindicated”, and described the investigations swirling around him as “something straight out of the Stalinist Russia horror show”.
“From the beginning, it’s been one witch hunt and phoney investigation after another,” he said.
Trump is being investigated by prosecutors in Manhattan for campaign finance violations stemming from his alleged payment of hush money to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election.
He used the rally to criticise prosecutors investigating him and employed dark and conspiratorial language to fire up his base ahead of next year’s Republican primary elections.
‘Enemies are desperate’
Trump declared on Saturday that his “enemies are desperate to stop us,” and “our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will”.
“But they failed,” he said. “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.”
Branch Davidians sect
Trump held his rally at the airport grounds in Waco as the city marked the 30th anniversary of a raid by federal agents on the Branch Davidians religious sect there that resulted in 86 deaths, including four law enforcement officers.
Many right-wing extremists see the raid as a seminal moment of government overreach, and critics saw the rally’s timing as a nod to Trump’s far-right supporters.
Trump’s campaign insisted the location and timing of the event had nothing to do with the Waco siege or its anniversary.
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Audience members were holding red-and-white signs handed out by the campaign that said “WITCH HUNT” and “I stand with Trump.”
The former president is seeking to turn the hush money case in New York City to his advantage by raising money from it and using it to rally supporters.
On Friday, he issued an apocalyptic warning, saying the country faced potential “death & destruction” if he was charged with a crime.
Democrats have also warned that Trump’s remarks had the potential to incite violence.
“The twice-impeached former president’s rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up he’s going to get someone killed,” House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York said.