In an insult-laden speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump attacked and lied about his political enemies while lambasting his criminal indictments in an appeal to the Republican primary voters he hopes will set him on a path to return to the White House.
Once there, the thrice-indicted Trump could insulate himself from the two federal prosecutions he faces with the Department of Justice back under his control.
“Joe Biden has weaponized law enforcement. He's done something that nobody thought — they talked about it — but nobody ever did it never to this extent, and ordered his top political opponent, me, arrested,” Trump said, falsely accusing Biden of playing a role in his arrests for allegedly illegally retaining classified documents and his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“You know, he says ‘I'm down in the polls to Trump. Let's arrest him. Let's arrest. Let's indict him and arrest him. Please indict him and arrest him,’” he continued, mimicking Biden.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a longtime federal and international war crimes prosecutor, as an independent special counsel to take over Department of Justice investigations into Trump last year.
While Biden and Garland could legally overrule Smith, the attorney general and the special prosecutor have emphasized the independence of the investigation and there is no evidence the indictments, handed down by a grand jury, were the result of Biden or Garland’s directives.
“There was never a second of any day that I didn't believe that that election was rigged,” Trump said.
Central to Smith’s case against Trump is the allegation Trump knew he was lying about his false election claims, something then-Attorney General Bill Barr has also said. “It was a rigged election. It was a rigged election and it was a stolen, disgusting election. And this country should be ashamed.”
In Trump's vengeful speech, Biden was “crooked”; Hillary Clinton was “beautiful"; Smith was “deranged” and a “thug"; Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a primary rival, was a “fat pig"; Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating efforts to overturn Georgia's election results in 2020, was a “racist” who the former president baselessly accused of having an affair with someone she was apparently investigating.
Trump largely focused on Biden and Smith, avoiding criticisms of the federal judge in the 2020 election case, who he has repeatedly attacked on social media and did so again in the hours after the speech. In a social media post on Tuesday afternoon, he accused U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan of bias for overlapping with Biden’s son Hunter at a law firm a decade ago.
The clash with Smith’s team and the judge continued this week in the courtroom, with Trump’s lawyers pleading with Chutkan to narrow potential restrictions on his ability to publicly disclose evidence in the case. Prosecutors are concerned he will use the evidence to instill a "harmful chilling effect on witnesses."
“I will talk about it. I will. They’re not taking away my first amendment right,” Trump said on Tuesday, after calling the indictments “bull****” and inspiring the crowd to chant the obscenity.
The criminal cases will force him “to spend time and money away from the campaign trail in order to fight bogus, made up accusations and charges,” Trump said. “‘I'm sorry I won't be able to go to Iowa today. I won't be able to go to New Hampshire today because I'm sitting in a courtroom on bull****.’”
Trump also asked the audience whether he should participate in the Aug. 23 Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, the first of the campaign. The crowd had mixed reactions.
“Maybe we’ll do something else,” Trump responded. “Some people say yes, but they hate to say it. It doesn’t make sense to do it if you’re leading by so much. But they like it for the entertainment value because they’re selfish.”
The GOP frontrunner spoke for about an hour and 20 minutes at a high school in Windham, New Hampshire. The early primary state is key to presidential hopefuls looking to gain momentum, but Trump already holds a massive lead in both state and national polls. One poll published Monday had him leading the pack by over 30 percentage points in New Hampshire. No other candidate broke double digits.
In the NHJournal/co-efficient poll, 62% of GOP primary voters in the state said they would vote for Trump even if he was convicted of a felony and 57% said they would still do so even if he were in prison on Election Day in 2024.
“Every time you get indicted I like to check the polls,” Trump said. Despite being arrested three times, Trump’s poll numbers have broadly remained steady or even increased in the immediate aftermath. “One more indictment and I think this election is over.”
In Windham, he spent much of the time airing his personal and political grievances while proposing policies for his potential second term including using the military for the “largest domestic deportation operation” in U.S. history, persecuting his political enemies and restricting health care for transgender youth.
“On day one, I will sign a new executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing critical race theory, transgender insanity, and other inappropriate racial, sexual or political content on our children,” Trump said. “Our beautiful children are being destroyed by these maniacs.”
At least 19 states have restricted or even criminalized gender-affirming health care access for transgender minors despite the medical community’s widespread insistence such care is safe and bans are harmful to children. Trump also said he’d ban transgender service members from the military.
Visibly dripping in sweat for much of his speech — “I’m sweating like a dog up here,” he said at one point — the 77-year-old complained about the temperature in the room about halfway through his remarks.
“I want to say officially for the press, it's about 110 degrees in this room. Nice job with the air conditioning, whoever,” the former president said. “But you know what the press will say? They'll say ‘Trump didn't look well. He was extremely wet.’ It's 104 or five degrees in this room.”
Concluding his speech, Trump made clear what his goals for his next term would be: purging his enemies.
“With you at my side, we will demolish the deep state. We will expel the warmongers from our government. We will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the communists, Marxists and fascists,” Trump said. “We will throw off the sick political class that hates our country. We will route the fake news media. We will defeat crooked Joe Biden and we will drain the swamp once and for all.”