(Casey Harper, The Center Square) President Donald Trump called the charges against him unprecedented election interference in a speech Tuesday night from his Mar-a-Lago home, just hours after pleading not guilty to nearly three dozen felony charges during his arraignment in New York City.
“I never thought anything like this could happen in America,” Trump told his supporters at his Florida residence. “The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.”
Trump faces 34 charges related to allegations that he paid hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels through a lawyer seven years ago and covered it up as a legal expense before being elected president. Trump offered his “not guilty” plea during his arraignment before Judge Juan Merchan in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Trump began his speech by pointing to the string of investigations and impediments that Democrats and federal law enforcement threw at him, drawing a comparison between the unfounded accusations like the debunked Russian dossier and the current legal prosecution.
“From the beginning, the Democrats spied on my campaign, remember that?” Trump said. “They attacked me with an onslaught of fraudulent investigations. Russia, Russia Russia. Ukraine… Impeachment hoax number one, impeachment hoax number two. The illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago right here.”
Trump was impeached twice by the then Democrat-controlled U.S. House during his presidency, but was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate both times.
Trump also pointed to media reports that showed federal law enforcement working with social media companies to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story, which Trump said “exposes the Biden family as criminals” and would have swayed the election in his favor.
“And we remember the 51 intelligence agents who said Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation,” Trump said, pointing to an open letter signed by those agents making that assertion. “Russian disinformation, remember that? And that was all confirmed strongly by the FBI, when they all knew that it wasn’t Russian disinformation.”
The indictment was unsealed after Tuesday’s arraignment. It alleges Trump falsified business records related to the hush money scheme and can be read in full here.
Trump blasted New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Letisha James, attorney general for New York, both of whom promised to go after Trump while on the campaign trail.
We have a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign, and a lot of it,” Trump said.
Trump’s speech hit political notes as well. He attacked President Joe Biden on the Afghanistan withdrawal, the border, the loss of energy independence, rising crime, and more.
Trump surrendered to New York Police before the arraignment after a grand jury voted to indict him last week, the first time a current or former president has been charged with a crime. Trump is also the 2024 Republican frontrunner for president.
During his speech, Trump also blasted the the investigation into his possession of classified documents from his time at president, arguing that he had the power as president to declassify them. He said Biden had classified documents as well from his time in the Obama administration but did not have the power to declassify as vice president.