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Trump calls for Senate to save him from indictment as he claims Democrats ‘have something on Mitch McConnell’

Ex-president calls for Senate to interfere in DoJ’s prosecutions while inflaming intra-party tensions

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 06 August 2023 18:14 BST
Bill Barr claims Donald Trump 'ruined lives' of Capitol rioters

Donald Trump was in attack mode as he spoke to supporters Saturday evening in Columbia, South Carolina.

The former president, not known for holding back against his enemies, was more combative than ever as he spoke at a South Carolina Republican Party fundraiser in the wake of his indictment on criminal charges related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. While some moments were clearly scripted and focused his rage against President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice, others were not as he veered into attacks against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans tied to leadership in the Senate who have resisted his calls to use their power to help him — both on January 6, and now, as he faces criminal prosecution.

“These guys, what they’re doing with this election interference ... the Senate needs to step up. The House is doing a lot of things…They have something on Mitch McConnell,” the former president argued, presumably meaning either Democrats or the Department of Justice, or both.

“There’s no way he’s doing this. They got something on Mitch McConnell.”

It was the kind of blunt attack, launched from the backyard of Senator Lindsey Graham, that is likely to cause further headaches for the Senate GOP caucus, which mercifully can avoid reporters’ questions about the matter until the end of the August recess. Mr Graham has traded blows publicly with McConnellworld in recent months, earning a vicious rebuke and accusations of flip-flopping from a former top aide to the Senate GOP leader.

The remark could also be awkard for Senator Tim Scott, the other member of South Carolina’s Senate delegation, who is running against Mr Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination but has yet to take a strong line of attack against the former president.

Mr Trump’s remarks about the House of Representatives “doing a lot of things” refers to the efforts by the House Judiciary Committee to battle the Department of Justice as well as prosecutors in Manhattan over their offices’ respective prosecutions of Mr Trump; those actions by the Judiciary panel, however, have largely amounted to show and have done little if anything to hinder the investigations themselves.

Given the Democratic majority in the Senate, it’s not clear what else the president has in mind for his allies to accomplish. Some individual senators have taken to blocking appointments to various federal agencies until their demands are met, but these actions have not yet been undertaken or endorsed by GOP leadership.

Others attacked by Mr Trump during his speech on Saturday included his former attorney general, Bill Barr, who has affirmed in public interviews that he believes the Department of Justice’s prosecutions of his ex-boss to be legitimate and serious, and Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the Department of Justice’s prosecution of Mr Trump in two matters: The alleged unlawful retention of classified material and other presidential records, and the campaign to overturn the election ending on January 6.

His most scripted attacks were predictably aimed at Mr Biden however, whom he accused once again of using his power to enrich himself and his family. The charge has been leveled at his own family in the wake of their departure from the White House, in particular given a massive Saudi-backed investment into his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business secured shortly after the end of his time in government.

“Crooked Joe Biden only cares about enriching his family,” Mr Trump said. “I care about enriching your family.”

“Under my leadership, we built the greatest economy in the history of the world,” said the former president.“When I get back in office, I’m going to reverse Bidenomics and restore the trajectory I created toward increasing this country’s financial prosperity.”

Mr Trump was in Washington this past week for his indictment on charges related to the 2020 election. He entered a plea of not guilty as the number of criminal counts formally filed against him continued to climb, and immediately began making statements about the investigation that have forced prosecutors to seek a protective order from the judge that would limit what he can say publicly.

He continues to persist as the far-and-away leader of the Republican 2024 primary field, even as it appears likely that he and/or members of his legal team could face further charges filed against them later this month in Georgia as a grand jury investigation into his efforts to change election results in that state comes to a head.

The former president and his allies continue to wrongfully insist that the 2020 election was “stolen” by Mr Biden even as every reputable expert and agency with authority to monitor elections have said that his claims about the results are false.

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