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Trump lashes out at 'sick' opponents in 'unfair' trial

By AFP

May 31, 2024 09:42 PM


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Donald Trump lashed out in rambling, angry comments Friday at his "sick" opponents and "fascists" after what he called a "very unfair" trial that made him the first former US president to become a convicted felon.

The 77-year-old Republican, who is neck and neck with President Joe Biden in the 2024 White House race, confirmed he would appeal.

"We're going to be appealing this scam," he said.

Trump was speaking at what was billed as a press conference in the upscale lobby of his signature Trump Tower property in Manhattan.

But after taking to the podium, he launched into an extraordinary 35 minutes of insults, non-factual claims and non-sequiturs that reflected his seething anger. He then left without taking questions.

Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over his trial, is a "tyrant," Trump said, claiming that Merchan "literally crucified" witnesses.

"This man who looks like an angel, but he is really a devil," he said in the remarks, which were carried live by all the major US television networks.

In addition to complaining that the jury trial was unfair, Trump frequently veered off into attacks on Biden and illegal immigrants, who he said were speaking "languages unknown" and include many terrorists, as well as "a lot of people" released from prisons.

"They're coming in from all over the world into our country, and we have a president and a group of fascists that don't want to do anything about it, because they could right now, today, he could stop it. But he's not. They're destroying our country," Trump said.

On Thursday, a jury found him guilty on all 34 charges of falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels from publicizing an alleged sexual encounter that he feared would be fatal to his 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump's behavior just as he was about to face Hillary Clinton.

Trump faces a potential prison sentence, but is much more likely to receive probation.

Merchan set sentencing for July 11 -- four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party's formal nomination.

 Election earthquake 

 Although the legal landmark does not prevent Trump from continuing his election bid, it does cast the already tense contest into even more unpredictable waters.

Trump's campaign immediately made a fund-raising pitch after the verdict featuring a picture of the 77-year-old and the claim: "I am a political prisoner!"

According to the campaign, $34.8 million in donations flooded in, crashing the website.

"From just minutes after the sham trial verdict was announced, our digital fundraising system was overwhelmed," the campaign said.

In addition to the New York case, Trump faces three far more serious criminal indictments over his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and hoarding of top-secret documents at his home in Florida.

Those cases, however, are not likely to go to trial before the November election.

 Biden's silence 

 Biden has so far avoided making Trump's multiple legal difficulties an issue. As president, he is keen to avoid giving ammunition to Republicans who claim he is meddling in the justice system.

Now he will have to decide whether Trump's conviction changes the calculus.

Biden's campaign quickly reacted to the verdicts by saying that "no one is above the law." It added, however, that the focus should turn to the election, because "the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater."

Biden himself said nothing about the momentous events in New York.

On Friday, he has a busy public schedule, including talks with the Belgian prime minister, a celebration for NFL Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs, and a newly announced speech from the White House on the Middle East.

A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, whose rule has seen dozens of political opponents, journalists and human rights campaigners murdered, claimed that the jury trial was a "de-facto elimination of political rivals."

"I would say that's a classic case of projection," countered US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while attending a NATO meeting in Prague.

In Italy, the far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, said Trump was the "victim of judicial harassment."


AFP


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