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Trump campaigns on rare day out of court; exchanges words with Biden



Agency Report

Former US President Donald Trump took advantage of a break in his hush money trial to hold a major campaign rally Wednesday — blaming his legal troubles and America’s ills on his election rival, President Joe Biden.

The former Republican president, who is again running for the White House, addressed a crowd in Wisconsin, one of the most hotly contested states in his expected rematch with Democrat Biden in November. 

“If we don’t win this election, I don’t think our country is going to survive. I will say it — and I’ve never said that publicly, I don’t think — but I felt it for a long time,” Trump told supporters in the city of Waukesha.

Trump, who was due at a second rally later Wednesday in the swing state of Michigan, was using the events “to contrast the peace, prosperity, and security of his first term with Joe Biden’s failed presidency,” according to his campaign.

Returning to many of his favorite topics after a break from the campaign trail, he railed against Biden’s handling of the economy and immigration — while baselessly reviving claims that the president is behind the 88 felony charges he is facing.

“So I got indicted four times, and then I have civil trials — all coming out of the White House, everything, like a Third World country,” he said.

Trump regularly claims that his indictments — three for alleged cheating in elections and one for hoarding classified documents — are being orchestrated as part of a political witch hunt, but never offers any evidence.

The 77-year-old real estate tycoon used his rare day on the stump to remind the public of his preferred image as a confident, seasoned campaigner, far from the Manhattan courtroom where he is accused of covering up payments to a porn star before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is the first former US president to face criminal charges, and the trial appears to have annoyed him no end.

For two weeks now he has been sitting through long hours of witness testimony, visibly bored and angry at no-nonsense Judge Juan Merchan, who required him to be present — and then imposed a gag order prohibiting Trump from publicly attacking witnesses, jurors or court staff.

Before and after each day’s proceedings, Trump has been addressing journalists outside, venting about his legal problems, the US economy, his wife’s birthday and the “freezing” temperature inside the courtroom.

‘Just another criminal defendant’ 

“He hates being there in court, where he is just another criminal defendant,” political expert Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia told AFP. “He has no control and is not in charge.”

Biden’s campaign has not missed a chance to bait his opponent over his legal troubles.

Last month the president took a jab at Trump for being “busy right now” in court.

And Biden’s campaign has been referring to Trump as “Sleepy Don,” after reports from journalists in the courtroom that the Republican was nodding off during the proceedings.

The nickname evoked the “Sleepy Joe” taunt Trump has long used for Biden.

Biden has advanced in the polls since March, with the two candidates now running neck and neck.

But Trump and his supporters hope to harness the media attention surrounding the trial to fire up his base, and push his message that Democrats are destroying the country through negligence on border security and poor economic stewardship.

In Waukesha, the former president accused Biden of being too passive on the pro-Palestinian student demonstrations that have convulsed college campuses nationwide, and of allowing the country to be “invaded” by migrant hordes.

Trump is energized by his campaign rallies, but had not held a single one since the start of his trial on April 15th, with the only planned event cancelled due to weather.

He holds his second event of the day at 6:00 pm (2200 GMT) on the airport tarmac in a small Michigan town.


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