US: Donald Trump rails against federal indictment

Donald Trump has used his first public appearances after being indicted on felony charges to slam the US justice system

Former U.S. President Donald Trump (photo: Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump (photo: Getty Images)
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DW

Former US President Donald Trump on Saturday continued his diatribes against what he calls a "corrupt" justice system just days before he is due to face a federal court on charges he endangered US national security by willfully retaining classified defense information.

The indictment, released on Friday, came as Trump remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination for 2024 presidential elections despite the plethora of legal charges against him, some of which carry major prison sentences.

Trump held his latest speeches at two state Republican conventions in the states of Georgia and then North Carolina.

What did Trump say?

Speaking in Columbus, Georgia, Trump said the indictment against him was politically motivated and aimed to prevent him from running for a second term in office.

"That's why they're doing it; if I wasn't, there would be no witch hunt, there would be no indictment," he told the crowd.

He also said that the "joke of an indictment" would actually increase his support within the Republican party and his chances of winning an election.

"The only good thing is it's driven my poll numbers way up," he said, though it was unclear to what poll numbers he was referring.

Charges in New York in March over hush-money payments to a porn star elevated his ranking in primary polls.

At his appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina, he went on the attack against current President Joe Biden's government.

"You're dealing with crazy lunatics," he said.

"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 said.

"This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice," he added.

None of Trump's statements is borne out by evidence, and the Justice Department says that all its investigative decisions are made independently of partisan politics.

Trump also told newspaper company Politico on Saturday that he would continue running for president even if he were convicted.

What is Trump accused of?

The indictment released on Friday focus on Trump's alleged mishandling of classified materials and include charges that he willfully retained and corruptly concealed such materials, conspired to obstruct justice and made false statements.

The 37-count indictment, brought by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, claims he put US national security "at risk" by such actions, with the classified documents allegedly containing details on the US nuclear program, among other things.

The charges, unpredecented in American history in that they target a former president, carry up to 20 years in prison each.

Trump is due to appear in federal court in Miami, Florida, on Tuesday — a day before his 77th birthday — to answer the charges.

The charges come on top of several allegations of personal, political and commercial misconduct that he has largely managed to ride out in the past.

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