Trump says he's a victim of "political persecution" in Mar-a-Lago speech
Trump spoke from Mar-a-Lago after pleading not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to alleged secret money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels
April 4, 2023 9:48pm
Updated: April 5, 2023 8:28am
Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday in Florida that he is a victim of "political persecution," referring to the 34 charges for which he has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The charges stem from allegations the former president falsified business records in connection with payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump told his supporters that he "never thought that something like this could happen in America."
Trump spoke to a large crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach (Florida) mansion and private club where he resides, addressing his arraignment at the New York Supreme Court, the first hearing of an unprecedented legal case against a former president in the 245-year history of the United States.
"The only crime I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it," Trump said to a crowd of supporters Tuesday night.
During the event, Trump criticized Bragg and emphasized that "there is no case."
Trump also accused Bragg of illegal leaks of grand jury information, and claimed the prosecutor should be impeached or resign. The next court date for Trump to appear in New York is set for Dec. 4.
"From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign--remember that they attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations Russia, Russia, Russia; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; impeachment hoax number one; impeachment hoax number two; the illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago right here; the lying to the FISA court; the FBI and DOJ relentlessly pursuing Republicans; the uncontested judicial changes to election laws by not getting approvals from state legislatures," Trump said.
That's how Trump referred to the original FBI investigation by then-special counsel Robert Mueller into whether he and members of his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election.
After nearly two years, Mueller's investigation determined there was not a criminal conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Trump also criticized Colombian-American Judge Juan Merchan, denouncing him as a "Trump-hating judge" and Bragg's wife as a "Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris."
For his part, Bragg alleges that Trump falsified business records to "conceal damaging information and illicit activities from American voters before and after the 2016 election."
"Our justice system has become lawless," Trump said. "They’re using it now, in addition to everything else, to win elections" and took a swipe at Hillary Clinton, who he recalled "got rid of 33,000 emails."
"That was okay," Trump said referring to the legal treatment Clinton received after she deleted tens of thousands of emails that were under legislative subpoena by the House Select Committee investigating the Benghazi travesty.