Trump spoke at Republican state conventions in Georgia and North Carolina on Saturday, during which he used speeches to attack Special Counsel Jack Smith‘s probe as a “political hit job.”
Trump became the first-ever U.S. president to face federal charges after he was indicted for allegations that include 31 counts of willful retention of classified documents, as well as additional counts including conspiracy to obstruct justice, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and making false statements and representations.
Trump touched on a number of other issues, including the recent merger of the PGA and LIV golf tournaments, the departure of CNN CEO Chris Licht, and also attacked his 2024 GOP presidential primary rivals, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Classified Documents Case
During his speech in Georgia, Trump doubled down on his claims that the federal probe into him was a “witch hunt.” He has been formally charged on allegations he illegally retained classified documents after he left the White House and then obstructed the federal attempt to retrieve them from his Mar-a-Lago resort.
“They’ve launched one witch hunt after another to try and stop our movement, to thwart the will of the American people,” Trump told the crowd in Columbus.
“In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you—and I’m just standing in their way.
“The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration’s weaponized ‘Department of Injustice’ will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country,” Trump added. “Many people have said that—Democrats have even said it. This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice.”
Elsewhere, Trump attacked Smith—the prosecutor who is also leading the federal January 6 investigation—as “deranged” while discussing the special counsel’s recent press conference discussing the indictment.
“I watched him yesterday go up and talk. He talked for about two and a half minutes. He was shaking. He was so scared. He didn’t want to be there, because ultimately these are cowards.”
Trump also accused the Justice Department of being “a sick nest of people that need to be cleaned out.”
“They took one charge and made it 37,” Trump said. “It’s a political hit job.”
Chris Licht Departure
During his speech at the North Carolina GOP convention, Trump also made a wry apology to recently departed CNN CEO Licht.
Trump discussed his recent CNN town hall for which the network was heavily criticised, including from employees at the broadcaster. The outcry, as well as a damning profile about Licht’s tenure at CNN in The Atlantic, resulted in Licht’s departure on June 7.
“Everything was beautiful, and they got tremendous numbers, and they fired him,” Trump said. “He’s gone now. Mr. Licht, sorry about that. I’d like to apologize to Mr. Licht.
“Instead, they should celebrate: ‘We had the highest ratings.’ You’re supposed to get paid for high ratings.”
PGA-LIV Golf Merger
Elsewhere in Georgia, Trump boasted that he was “right about LIV Golf,” having previously suggested golf players should join up with the Saudi Arabia-backed tournament in case of a possible merger with the PGA.
The LIV Golf series had caused a major rift in the golfing world since it was founded in 2021, with a number of top stars, such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, criticizing the tournament, while others such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson signed up to play in the lucrative tour. LIV Golf players were subsequently banned from taking part in PGA tours and other major championships.
The PGA Tour has since agreed to a deal with LIV golf in a deal which will eventually result in a larger golf enterprise.
“Was I right about LIV Golf? I was right. I said, ‘you better make a deal,” Trump said. “‘You guys, the golfers, you better make a deal.’ I was right, I called that one exactly right didn’t I? Because if you don’t get a deal, you’re not going to get anything.”
Trump’s golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, has hosted LIV golf tournaments for the past couple of years.
In a post on Truth Social in July 2022, Trump said: “All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a years.”
Attacking Pence and DeSantis
Trump also used his speech to take swipes at his 2024 primary rivals Pence and DeSantis, who he described as “sick, sick, sinister people.”
The former president took aim at Pence, his former close ally, after he confirmed he will be challenging him for the Republican 2024 nomination.
“Pence has gone down [in the polls]…sadly, because he’s a nice person, he’s trying to get nasty though so we may have to fight a different way,” Trump said in Georgia. “All of a sudden he got a little bit nasty, Mike.”
During his speech in North Carolina, Trump noted that enthusiasm from the audience in Greensboro was more pronounced when he discussed how, if president, he would sign an executive order which would remove federal funding from schools that teach critical race theory and “transgender insanity” to and other “inappropriate racially, political, and sexual content” to children.
The remarks brought a standing ovation from the crowd, briefly interrupting Trump’s speech.
“It’s amazing how strongly people feel about that. You see, I’m talking about cutting taxes, people go like that,” Trump said while making a muted applause gesture.
“I talk about transgender, everyone goes crazy. Who would have thought? Five years ago, you didn’t know what the hell it was.”
Trump, unlike his main primary rival DeSantis, has rarely weighed in on the culture war about restricting trans rights and issues of allowing gender identity in schools.
In May, DeSantis signed a series of bills that restricted gender-affirming treatments for minors and pronoun usage in schools, as well as the “Protection of Children” which was seen as a way to ban drag acts from being performed in front of minors in Florida.
Published: 2023-06-11 09:28:06