Trump vows to stay in the race even if found guilty

Donald Trump vowed on Saturday to continue running for president even if he were to be convicted in the 37-count federal indictment that was issued against him this week.

“I’m never going to leave,” Trump said in an interview aboard his plane. “Look, if I had gone I would have done it before the original race in 2016. It was tough. In theory, this was not feasible.

Trump is not legally barred from running for president from prison or as a convicted felon. But such an offer would nonetheless be a massive stress test for the country’s political and legal systems.

The former president has leveled harsh criticism at special counsel Jack Smith and argued that the case against him is politically motivated and fragile. “Thugs and degenerates are after me,” he said.

Trump predicted he would not be convicted and said he did not plan to reach a plea deal, although he left open the possibility of doing so “or they pay me damages”.

He avoided the possibility of forgiving himself if he won the presidency in 2024. “I don’t think I ever have to,” Trump said. “I did not do anything wrong.”

Although Trump said fundraising for the campaign had skyrocketed since the indictment was issued, he admitted it was an unwelcome development.

“Nobody wants to be indicted,” Trump said. “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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