Donald Trump was equal turns defiant and self-pitying in his first major public event since being indicted earlier this week on charges he conspired to overturn the 2020 election and deprive voters of their civil rights in the process, claiming the charges against him were illegitimate but would help his campaign.
“It’s not going to make any impact. Every time they file an indictment, we go way up in the polls,” Mr Trump said Friday at the Alabama Republican Party’s 2023 summer meeting in Montgomery.
“We need one more indictment and this election is closed out, nobody has even a chance,” he added.
At the same time, Mr Trump hammered the special counsel overseeing the case, accusing “deranged Jack Smith” of pursuing “an outrageous criminalisation of political speech.”
“It’s not fair and it’s probably not legal what they’re doing,” Mr Trump argued. “They want to interfere in my campaign.”
Prosecutors allege that Mr Trump and a group of co-conspirators knew they had lost the 2020 election, but tried to manipulate the process and be declared the winners anyway, infringing on US voter rights in the process.
“The only civil rights that have been violated in this manner are my civil rights,” Mr Trump said at the event.
Even though Donald Trump faces increasing legal jeopardy – two federal indictments, plus another major case from the Manhattan district attorney and a looming potential indictment in Georgia over election meddling – his campaign for the White House looks relatively unimpacted even as Mr Trump could be the first former president to be imprisoned.
According to a New York Times poll on Thursday, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are at a dead heat when it comes to support from registered voters, each maintaining 43 per cent.
Within the Republican field, Mr Trump has a comfortable lead over his opponents, even as rivals like Mike Pence have seized on the recent indictment to criticise the former president.
A recent poll found that Donald Trump is still comfortably leading the pack of GOP hopefuls ahead of 2024, with 54 per cent support compared to his nearest rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who only had 17 per cent.
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