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Former US President Donald Trump has held the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas, railing against prosecutors’ investigation, and using dark and conspiratorial language to fire up his base ahead of next year’s Republican primary elections. used.

trump- facing possible prosecution – opened Saturday’s rally by playing the song “Justice for All”, in which a choir of men is cast for their role January 6, 2021, Rebellion A recording of Trump singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the United States Capitol.

Some footage of the mutiny was shown on the screen.

In his speech, Trump defended the rebels, saying they would be “innocent”, and described the investigation revolving around them as “straight out of a Stalinist Russia horror show”.

“From the beginning it’s been one witch hunt and one phony investigation after another,” he said.

Trump is being investigated by prosecutors in Manhattan campaign finance violations Stemming from his alleged payment of covert money to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election. A special counsel appointed by the Justice Department is also probing allegations that he hoarded top-secret documents and conspired to subvert the 2020 election.

Trump declared on Saturday that his “enemies are desperate to stop us,” and “our adversaries have done everything they can to crush our spirit and break our will”.

“But they failed,” he said. “They have only made us stronger. And 2024 is the final battle, it’s going to be big. You put me back in the White House, his regime will end and America will once again be a free nation.

Trump held his rally at the airport grounds in Waco as the city marked the 30th anniversary of a raid by federal agents on the Branch Davidians religious sect that resulted in 86 deaths, including four law enforcement officers. Many right-wing extremists see the raid as a pivotal moment of government overreach, and critics see the timing of the rally as a blow to Trump’s far-right supporters.

Trump’s campaign insisted that the location and timing of the incident had nothing to do with the Waco siege or its anniversary.

A spokesman said the site, 27 kilometers (17 mi) from the Branch Davidian compound, was chosen because it was conveniently located near the state’s four largest metropolitan areas – Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. and has the infrastructure to handle a sizeable crowd.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump cheer as he speaks at a campaign rally at the Waco Regional Airport, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas [Evan Vucci/ AP]

Trump made no apparent reference to Waco’s history, telling the crowd he told Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to hold his rally with overwhelming support, not “one of those 50-50 areas”. want to do

He said he told Patrick, “Let’s go right to the heart of it.”

“But as far as the eye can see,” he quickly added, “the abuse of power we’re currently witnessing at all levels of government will go down in all of American history as one of the most shameful, corrupt, corrupt chapters.” Will go.”

Onlookers held campaign-provided red and white signs that said “Witch Hunt” and “I stand with Trump.”

‘High Wire’ Act

Trump doesn’t just face a legal crisis. His own support is softening, at least in early primary battleground states like New Hampshire, amid his effort to lock up the Republican nomination in the face of a potential challenge from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

“I’m not a big fan,” Trump said of DeSantis, accusing him of conspiring to undercut Social Security.

“Long before this man became governor, Florida has been tremendously successful for many years.”

former president is asking turn on hush money case to his advantage by raising money in New York City and using it to rally supporters. On Friday, he issued an apocalyptic warning saying the country was facing potential “Death and Destruction” If he was accused of a crime.

In a move designed to prevent a formal announcement, he claimed last Saturday he will be arrested next tuesday, While this did not happen, Trump repeatedly called for violence – urging his supporters to protest – and used increasingly racist and dehumanizing rhetoric as he launched more personal attacks than ever against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg .

But some supporters have heeded his call to take to the streets to protest his possible indictment in the Manhattan case, and Trump’s escalating rhetoric has alienated at least some within his own party.

Ron Bongeon, a Republican strategist in Washington, D.C., said, “Trump is walking a high wire without a net, telegraphing that he has nothing to lose and risking dangerous consequences for rallying support.” ready for.”

Democrats have also warned that Trump’s remarks had the potential to incite violence.

“The rhetoric of the twice impeached former president is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up he’s going to kill someone,” said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

At the Waco rally, supporters said they were shocked by the possibility that Trump could be indicted.

“To prevent him from running again and winning this race is another political attack on him,” said Eugene Torres, 41, of the Texas coastal city of Corpus Christi.

Alan Kregel, 56, traveled with his wife from Dallas to see Trump in person for the first time. While he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, he said he feels the former president’s “manner and vocabulary” often diverge from his policies. But now, after two years in office, he said he is more supportive of Trump than ever.

“He’s an innocent man, just persecuted,” Kregel said, arguing the indictment will help Trump win in 2024.

In addition to his attacks on law enforcement and DeSantis, Trump’s speech was largely devoted to prosecuting old grievances and making outlandish claims about his enemies.

Several times Trump repeated the false claim that his election defeat in 2020 was due to systematic fraud by Democrats.

Trump painted the stakes of the next election with an apocalyptic vision, speaking of “demonic forces” trying to destroy the country, which he said was in danger of plunging into a “chaotic abyss” unless he was elected White House. There is no vote back in the house.

He described some US officials and senior politicians – including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell – as a greater threat to the US than China or Russia.

“Either the Deep State destroys America or we destroy the Deep State,” Trump said.

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