Donald Trump on Tuesday night complained, yet again, about being charged with dozens of felonies for retaining highly sensitive national defense documents at his Florida country club and then conspiring to hide them from authorities trying to get them back.
“Today we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country,” he told a crowd of his specially invited guests to his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club.
The coup-attempting former president’s 35-minute speech came just hours after pleading not guilty to 37 counts in federal court in Miami. He was indicted last week after an investigation by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over the investigation after Trump declared his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“This day will go down in infamy,” Trump said, calling the filing against him a “sham indictment” designed only to hurt his presidential campaign. “They ought to drop this case immediately because they’re destroying the country.”
Trump also renewed his attacks on Smith. “You take a look at this guy. He looked like a thug,” he said. “He’s a raging and uncontrolled Trump hater.”
During the hourlong Miami court hearing, Trump was seated just a few feet from Smith but did not say a single word to him, let alone call him names, according to journalists in the courtroom. Smith, who prior to taking on Trump had been assigned to prosecute war criminals in The Hague, stared at Trump for long stretches, including as he walked out.
Trump once again claimed that he was allowed to keep whatever documents he wanted ― a claim refuted by many legal experts, including Trump’s own attorney general, Bill Barr ― and that it was Democrat Joe Biden that had broken the law by storing some of his vice presidential records in a Chinatown neighborhood office in Washington, D.C. This, in Trump’s view, meant that Chinese spies have access to the records.
He complained that neither Biden nor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been charged. “I did everything right, and they indicted me,” he said.
Smith is also conducting a separate investigation into Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt, which culminated with thousands of his followers assaulting the U.S. Capitol to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers into awarding Trump a second term notwithstanding his election loss to Joe Biden. One hundred and forty police officers were injured during the attack, with one dying the following day. Four more officers took their own lives in the coming weeks.
Trump is also under investigation by the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney for trying to coerce state officials to overturn his 2020 election loss in that swing state.
Trump has already been indicted in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush-money payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election. His trial in that case is set for next spring.
Despite all the criminal accusations and investigations, Trump remains the Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential nomination as he seeks to return to the White House.