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Trump goes after judge, prosecutors in his hush money case in last rally before trial begins

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday lit into New York prosecutors and the criminal hush money case they brought against him during his last rally before what he called a “communist show trial” begins Monday.

Quick Read

  • Trump Criticizes Legal Proceedings: Former President Donald Trump criticized New York prosecutors and the criminal hush money case against him, labeling it a “communist show trial” during his last rally before the trial’s commencement. He accused Judge Juan M. Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg of corruption and political bias aimed at preventing his political comeback.
  • Rally Amidst Regional Crisis: Trump briefly mentioned an ongoing retaliatory drone attack by Iran against Israel, asserting such an event wouldn’t have occurred under his presidency. He quickly pivoted back to his legal issues, using them as a focal point for rallying his supporters.
  • Upcoming Trial Challenges: Jury selection for Trump’s trial, where he faces charges related to hush money payments alleged during the 2016 campaign, begins Monday. This marks the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president, potentially limiting his campaign activities due to court appearances.
  • Campaign Activities in Pennsylvania: Trump’s speech took place in Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state for the upcoming presidential election. He highlighted his previous successes in the state and planned further local engagements to bolster his campaign efforts.
  • Voter Perspectives: Attendees like Bob Dippel expressed skepticism about the trial’s impact on independent voters, viewing it as a politicization of the legal system. Trump continued to attack Joe Biden’s policies and statements, positioning himself as a defender of democracy against what he describes as Biden’s tyrannical governance.
  • Comments on Foreign Policy: Trump commented on the recent Iranian attack on Israel, suggesting Israel needs to conclude its military actions in Gaza swiftly to restore peace. He criticized Biden’s approach to Israel, appealing to pro-Israel voters to support his candidacy based on his past actions, such as moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.

The Associated Press has the story:

Trump goes after judge, prosecutors in his hush money case in last rally before trial begins

Newslooks- SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) —

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday lit into New York prosecutors and the criminal hush money case they brought against him during his last rally before what he called a “communist show trial” begins Monday.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks to the podium during a campaign event in Schnecksville, Pa., on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

“I will be forced to sit fully gagged. I’m not allowed to talk. They want to take away my constitutional right to talk,” said Trump, who has been barred from publicly discussing potential witnesses and jurors but not the judge or prosecutors.

“I’m proud to do it for you,” Trump told a crowd in northeast Pennsylvania. “Have a good time watching.”

Trump spoke as Israel was fighting off a retaliatory drone attack from Iran that threatened to tip into a regional war in the Middle East. After a short mention of the attack, which he claimed wouldn’t have happened if he were president, Trump turned to an extended tirade against his own legal troubles.

Attendees gather as former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Schnecksville, Pa., on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

He went after Judge Juan M. Merchan, whom he called “corrupt,” and District Attorney Alvin Bragg, declaring himself a victim of Democrats bent on blocking his return to the White House.

Trump is navigating four separate criminal prosecutions while running to avenge his loss to President Joe Biden, creating an unprecedented swirl of legal and political chaos.

Jury selection starts Monday in New York in his trial where he is charged with seeking during his 2016 campaign to bury stories about extramarital affairs by arranging hush money payments.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump greets attendees during a campaign event in Schnecksville, Pa., on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Joe Lamberti)

It will be the first criminal trial ever of a former U.S. president. And it will limit Trump’s availability on the campaign trail, though he is expected to speak to the media after court often and has for months fundraised and campaigned on the felony charges he faces.

Trump spoke at the Schnecksville Fire Hall in Lehigh County, where a long line formed outward three hours before Trump’s planned appearance. It was Trump’s third visit this year to the vital swing state, one that could decide who wins this year’s presidential race. He also plans to attend a fundraiser in nearby Bucks County before the event.

FILE – Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, July 29, 2023, in Erie, Pa. Trump plans to hold a rally Saturday, April 13, 2024, in northeast Pennsylvania, his last before his criminal hush money trial begins on Monday. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Pennsylvania is a critical battleground in the rematch between Trump and Biden, with both candidates expected to visit the state frequently through November. Trump flipped the state to the Republican column in 2016 but lost it four years after to Biden, who was born in the northeast city of Scranton and has long talked about his roots in the city. Biden plans to deliver a major address Tuesday in Scranton on tax fairness.

Bob Dippel, 69, retired after working as a chief financial officer for several small businesses. He said he didn’t think the upcoming trial “would matter too much” to independent voters because “people are starting to see the mockery being made” of the legal system.

Biden has argued Trump’s lies about losing the 2020 election are dangerous for the country. He has said Trump poses a fundamental threat to democracy and U.S. alliances abroad — rhetoric that Trump has argued applies to Biden.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a news conference with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., Friday, April 12, 2024, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“We’re going to win in the biggest landslide in history, because we’re the ones who are fighting to save our democracy and Joe Biden is a demented tyrant,” Trump said.

Iran’s attack on Israel, in apparent retaliation for a strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed 12 people, may once again push foreign policy and the Middle East into the center of the presidential campaign.

It marked the first time Iran has launched a direct military assault on Israel, where officials have vowed to strike Iran directly in response to any attack from Iranian soil.

Prior to Saturday, Trump has recently said Israel needs to “ finish up ” its offensive in Gaza, warning the country is “absolutely losing the PR war ” as deaths mount and images of mass destruction proliferate. Israeli forces are going after Hamas after militants staged an Oct. 7 attack in which they killed an estimated 1,200 people and took 250 hostages.

“Get it over with, and let’s get back to peace and stop killing people. And that’s a very simple statement,” Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier this month. “They have to get it done. Get it over with, and get it over with fast because we have to — you have to get back to normalcy and peace.”

Trump recently said that any Democratic-leaning voters who support Israel should back him instead, as Biden has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions in his war against Hamas. The Republican said Wednesday that “any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.”

During his presidency, he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and facilitated the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab states through a series of agreements known as the Abraham Accords. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, a move that Israel welcomed.

The deal lifted sanctions on Iran, which agreed in exchange to limit its nuclear program and allow inspections. Trump said it was too generous to Iran, while supporters of a deal said it was the best option to forestall a nuclear-armed Iran.

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