By Nathan Layne
(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump has used the first public appearance since his federal indictment to step up attacks on the Justice Department, accusing prosecutors, without evidence, of a politically motivated campaign to remove him from the White House.
Speaking at the Republican convention in the state of Georgia on Saturday, Trump alleged that President Joe Biden, a Democrat, orchestrated the criminal charges in order to undermine his chief political rival’s presidential campaign, as well as to hijack the attention of federal and congressional investigations into Biden’s son.
There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims. The Justice Department maintains that all of its investigative decisions are made without regard to partisan politics, and Biden has said he will not get involved in the Trump investigation.
“The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration’s Armed Injustice Department will go down as some of the most horrific abuses of power in our country’s history,” Trump told the crowd of local officials. party.
“This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice.”
His remarks came a day after prosecutors unveiled a 37-count indictment against him, alleging he mishandled classified documents containing some of the country’s most sensitive security secrets after leaving the White House in 2021.
Prosecutors allege the former president kept documents, including documents about the US nuclear program and national vulnerabilities to potential attack, that he knew he shouldn’t have kept.
The 49-page indictment also detailed two instances in which Trump allegedly shared classified information with people not authorized to receive it, as well as efforts to obstruct government investigators seeking to retrieve the documents.
The indictment of a former US president on federal charges is unprecedented in US history and comes as Trump is the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination next year.
The charges ensure the case will be at the center of the party’s nomination contest. Most of Trump’s rivals have responded by accusing the Justice Department of political bias, reflecting their fears of upsetting Trump’s core supporters, a group estimated at 30% of the Republican electorate.
He is due to make a first appearance in the case in a Miami court on Tuesday, a day before his 77th birthday.
In a high-profile and at times dark and conspiratorial speech, Trump described his campaign to return to the White House as part of an “epic struggle” to defeat the “sinister forces” he said posed a greater threat. for the country than abroad. adversaries like Russia, North Korea and Iran.
“Think about it: from the inside it’s worse than from the outside,” he said.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed two different special advocates to independently investigate the handling of classified records by Trump and Biden, who uncovered documents at his home and a former office of a group reflection.
Trump has sought to equate the investigation into his conduct with that of Biden, even though legal experts say there are stark differences. For more than a year, Trump spurned efforts by the National Archives to retrieve all of the documents it kept and, according to the indictment, worked to hide documents from his attorneys and investigators. In Biden’s case, his attorneys notified the National Archives and the Justice Department of the discovery of classified records, according to Garland. The Justice Department has not said whether it will indict Biden.
“Biden has not been charged. And what he did is terrible,” Trump said. He called Jack Smith, the special counsel who indicted him, a “thug” and called for the removal of officials investigating him. “It’s a sick nest of people who need to be cleaned up immediately. Get them out,” he added to applause.
Trump told the Georgian public that the ‘indictment joke’ would further bolster his support within the party, similar to the way accusations in New York in March over silent payments to a porn star raised his ranking in the primary polls.
“The only good thing is that it boosted my poll count.”
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Daniel Wallis)