Trump vows to stay in 2024 presidential race even if found guilty

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Photo: Chuck Burton/AP

Donald Trump has pledged to continue his 2024 presidential campaign even if convicted of a crime, saying he will campaign from prison if necessary.

“I will never leave,” the former US president told Politico in an interview conducted on his plane between campaign events. He also ruled out forgiving himself, telling the outlet, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Related: ‘I will never be detained’: Trump defiant in first speech since federal indictment

US law does not bar Trump from standing for impeachment, nor would it bar him if convicted.

“Thugs and degenerates are after me,” he said, continuing his use of inflammatory language to describe his opponents and his many legal troubles.

Trump’s provocative comments came two days after the US Justice Department charged him with 37 counts related to his mishandling of classified documents and obstruction of the department’s investigation into the case. .

Trump, who is the leading candidate in the Republican field aiming to land the party’s nomination to fight Joe Biden for the White House, is the first former US president to face federal charges – an extraordinary moment in US history.

Trump has already started to seize on the charges in an attempt to appeal to Republicans for support, presenting them as another example of how political rivals are trying to persecute him.

“The ridiculous and baseless indictment by the Biden administration’s Armed Injustice Department will go down as some of the most horrific abuses of power in our nation’s history,” he said during the interview. a speech at the Georgia Republican Party convention.

He received a rousing reception at the event from supporters, the Associated Press reported.

About 48% of Americans think Trump should have been indicted for his handling of classified documents, according to a new ABC/Ipsos study, while 35% think he shouldn’t have been. There is a significant partisan divide in the responses reflecting the deep divisions in the United States: 86% of self-identified Democrats say he should have been charged, while 67% of self-identified Republicans say he did not. shouldn’t have.

Trump leads a broad Republican presidential field quite easily and most of his rivals have not used the indictment to attack him, a sign of the influence the former president still has over the Republican Party.

“The militarization of federal law enforcement poses a deadly threat to a free society. We have witnessed for years an unequal application of the law according to political affiliation. Why be so zealous about prosecuting Trump and yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter? Right-wing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted Thursday.

A day later, in a speech in North Carolina, DeSantis, who is considered Trump’s most serious rival, seemed a bit more willing to nudge Trump, saying he would be “court-martialed in a minute.” in New York” if he had mishandled classified documents when he was a Navy attorney.

DeSantis, who ranks second in the polls behind Trump, was also endorsed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt this week — his first gubernatorial endorsement in the race.

Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president and another 2024 rival, said Attorney General Merrick Garland should have to explain the charges publicly.

“Stop hiding behind the special advocate and stand up before the American people and explain why this indictment was brought forward,” he said in a speech in North Carolina on Saturday. Garland appointed special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee the case in November to ensure independence due to the political sensitivity of the case.

“I had hoped that the Justice Department would see clearly how to resolve these issues with the former president without moving forward with charges, and I am deeply troubled to see this indictment move forward,” said Pence Friday.

Other 2024 candidates echoed those sentiments.

Trump’s former US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also suggested the accusation was political. “The American people are exhausted by the overbreadth of prosecutions, double standards and vendetta politics,” she tweeted. “It’s time to move beyond the endless drama and distractions.”

Tim Scott, the South Carolina senator, said “the scales are balanced” in the US justice system and pledged to “purge all injustice and impurity from our system”.

But Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who is running for president and has readily criticized Trump, called the indictment “devastating” and “packed evidence” on CNN on Friday.

“The biggest issue for our country is: is this the type of conduct we expect from someone who wants to be President of the United States?” he said.

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, also an sometimes vocal critic of Trump running for president, called on Trump to give up.

“What we see in practice so far is that he has dealt [the documents] as entertainment tools,” he said. “Staying in the race does a disservice to the presidency and the country and the important decision we have to make.”

Trump is scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Miami federal courthouse for arraignment. The Secret Service is reportedly working out a plan to transport Trump to the courthouse for the appearance, which will likely be a spectacle. The case will at least initially be overseen by Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who was reprimanded by an appeals court for rulings favorable to the ex-president at an earlier stage in the case.

Trump is already facing separate criminal charges in Manhattan for a silent payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. More criminal charges could come this year from the Justice Department and Atlanta prosecutors related to his efforts to nullify the 2020 election.

Even Trump, who survived two impeachments as president and avoided accountability for most of his career, seemed to acknowledge his growing legal troubles.

“Nobody wants to be charged,” he told Politico. “I don’t care that my polls have gone up a lot. I don’t want to be charged. I have never been charged. Been through my whole life, now I get charged every two months. It was political.

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