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Trump delivers defiant speech in North Carolina after indictment

Trump receives a standing ovation ahead of his court appearance on federal charges related to classified documents

Eric Garcia
Sunday 11 June 2023 03:52 BST
Defiant Donald Trump attacks 'nasty' Pence and 'deranged' special consul Jack Smith

Former president Donald Trump delivered a defiant speech in North Carolina on Saturday night despite being indicted just days before, taking swipes at the Justice Department, the investigation that led to the indictment and even his Republican opponents.

Mr Trump took the stage at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro for the North Carolina GOP Convention, where he received an overwhelming reception despite his increasing legal woes. The Independent first reported that the Justice Department was ready to seek an indictment agianst Mr Trump, who now faces 37 charges related to his improper handling of classified materials.

A federal grand jury under the supervision of special c ounsel Jack Smith indicted Mr Trump on on a slew of charges, including showing highly classified information to unauthorised people on two separate occasions.

Mr Trump proclaimed his innocence onstage in North Carolina, calling the indictment a plot by “the radical left Democrats” and their “lawless partisan prosecutors.”

“They say, well, we want to run against Trump, in the meantime, we got 5,000 prosecutors after us because they don’t want to run against us,” he said. “We beat them the first time, we did much better the second time.”

The speech was Mr Trump’s second in the day at a state party convention. Earlier in the day, he spoke at Georgia’s state party convention, where he excoriated Mr Smith and the probe that led to the former president’s second criminal indictment.

Mr Trump called the indictment a “witch hunt,” like the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as well as his first and second impeachment.

“It’s called election interference,” he said. “Remember, it’s not me they’re going to go after when you think of it.”

Mr Trump then used his indictment to make the case that he is the best-qualified Republican because he’s able to absorb the blows and scrutiny, arguing that other GOP hopefuls would not be able to stand the onslaught.

“That person will not be able to withstand the fire,” he said. “And they come to me, ‘How do you stand this?’ And I usually look at them and say, ‘In a sick way I sort of enjoy it.”

The former president criticised the media for not focusing on supposed corruption from President Joe Biden and his administration or the fact that President Joe Biden president found classified documents at the Biden Centre at the University of Pennsylvania and his private residence in Delaware. The difference between the incumbent president and his predecessor is that Mr Biden and his legal team quickly alerted the US government of the records and expedited their return. Mr Trump, according to prosecutors, went to great lengths to prevent the handover of classified material in his possession.

As the 2024 GOP races comes into focus, Mr Trump also used the speech to attack his main rival for the Republican nomination, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, whom he has taken to calling “Ron DeSanctimonious” or DeSantus for short.

“We are leading Desanctimonious by massive numbers,” he said. “He’s heading south quickly. No personality. You gotta have a personality to win. He’s got no personality.”

The former president credited himself with getting Mr DeSantis elected governor in 2018 as he endorsed the then-congressman in the Republican gubernatorial primary that year.

Mr Trump’s words came despite the fact that Mr DeSantis decried the indictment of the former president, arguing that it showed a two-tiered system of justice.

Earlier in the day, former president Mike Pence addressed a much smaller ballroom here, accusing Mr Trump of backing down from the fight against abortion despite the fact he nominated the justices who overturned Roe v Wade.

But Mr Trump took credit for the victory of the conservative and anti-abortion movement.

“What I did by killing Roe v Wade, which everyone said was impossible,” he said. “Number one, we got it sent back to the states. And number two, and very importantly, I gave you power to negotiate. You had no power before.”

The former president repeated some of his more popular lines such as banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth and railing against vaccine mandates in schools.

Mr Trump ended his speech with a defiant tone ahead of his court date in Miami next week.

“These radical left lunatics want to interfere with our elections using law enforcement,” he said. “It’s totally corrupt and we can’t let it happen. This is the final battle.”

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