SARASOTA, Fla., July 3 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday condemned New York prosecutors for filing a lawsuit against his namesake company and longtime financial adviser, using a campaign-style rally to express an multitude of grievances.
“This is really what is called prosecutorial misconduct. It is a terrible, terrible thing,” Trump told thousands of supporters gathered outside in Sarasota, Florida.
The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to what a New York prosecutor called “bold and comprehensive” tax evasion, resulting from an investigation into Trump’s affairs and practices.
Weisselberg and other executives have been accused of receiving perks and perks such as rent-free apartments and rented cars, without properly reporting them on their tax returns. The outcome of investigations and other prosecutions against Trump could have an impact on his decision to run for president in 2024. read more
“They mobilized all the powers of government to come after me, my family, my wonderful employees and my company just because of politics,” Trump told the crowd.
The rally was billed as a July 4 celebration with fireworks, the latest in a series of appearances as the former president tries to keep Republicans’ attention on him.
Trump used his speech to denounce the policies of his successor, Democratic President Joe Biden, and reiterate his false claim that he lost the 2020 election due to fraud.
He urged his supporters to support his allies in their midterm campaigns as Republicans fight to regain control of Congress from the Democratic Party next year.
Trump has lingered extensively on Biden’s policies along the U.S. border with Mexico and the rise in crime, two issues Republicans hope to use to their advantage in the 2022 midterm election.
Trump’s image took a hit after the deadly Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol by his supporters. But about 53% of Republicans believe Trump won last year’s election and attribute his loss to illegal voting, and a quarter of the general public agreed Trump won, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll from the 17th. to May 19.
BUILD UNTIL 2024
Trump, 75, has raised the possibility of running for president again in 2024, and his latest rallies mark an effort to keep his base under pressure and on his side.
“We are watching the election, more than watching it,” Trump said of 2024, eliciting cheers from the Sarasota crowd.
Many Republicans see an attractive option for a 2024 Party candidate in 42-year-old Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Longtime Trump ally, DeSantis has been at the forefront of Republican battles against strict anti-coronavirus lockdowns, racial justice protests and expanded access to the ballot. Read more
In a straw poll of potential 2024 candidates at a conservative conference in Denver in June, DeSantis finished ahead of Trump, 74% to 71%.
DeSantis’ office said the governor was focused on his re-election to Florida next year, without aspiring to a national office.
Lindsay Gordon, a 35-year-old Sarasota resident who works in retail, said it was the third time she had attended a Trump rally and was delighted to show her support for the former president . She said she hoped Trump would run again, but believed DeSantis might be a better and less polarizing alternative.
“I think DeSantis would probably have a better opportunity since he’s younger,” said Gordon. “Because it’s still new and fresh, there is still a chance to let people know where it came from. There isn’t as much of that negativity.”
DeSantis did not attend the Trump rally. A spokesperson said he was spending the weekend in Surfside, Fla., Where rescuers spent more than a week digging through the rubble of a condominium collapse that killed at least 24 people and dozens of people missing. Read more
During his speech at the rally, which lasted around 90 minutes, Trump called by name a number of Republican politicians he described as warriors on his behalf, including U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz.
Trump did not mention DeSantis, but told Newsmax in a behind-the-scenes interview that he and DeSantis had “mutually agreed” that the governor should continue to assist with the rescue and recovery operation at Surfside.
“I told him you should stay over there,” Trump said.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter in Sarasota, Florida; Written by Steve Holland; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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