Monday, June 27

China, Fauci and Hoaxes: Donald Trump Addresses Usual Suspects to Return to Stage | Donald trump

Donald Trump has predictably returned to the stage when he launched a more active phase of his post-presidency: criticizing Covid expert Anthony Fauci, calling on China to pay reparations for the pandemic, and denouncing the New York attorney general’s criminal investigation into his business. .

At a Republican convention in North Carolina on Saturday night, Trump was introduced by state party chairman Michael Whatley as “our president,” a nod to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was him. stolen through election fraud, which Trump branded on Saturday. “The crime of the century”.

His appearance had all the hallmarks of his signature campaign rallies, complete with a heavy musical playlist on Elton John.

By urging Republicans to support only those loyal to Trump in next year’s midterm elections, Trump scoffed at the prospect of another presidential bid of his own in 2024, but vowed first to join the campaign of those who share his views. values ​​in next year’s fight for control of Congress.

“The survival of the United States depends on our ability to elect Republicans at all levels beginning with the midterm elections next year,” he said at the beginning of an incoherent speech that lasted nearly an hour and a half.

Some party leaders worry that a surge in pro-Trump candidates in the coming months could jeopardize the Republican Party’s fight for control of Congress in 2022. While Trump remains a dominant force within his party, he is deeply unpopular with key segments of the general electorate. He lost the last election by 7 million votes after alienating Republican-leaning suburban voters across the country.

The former president joined the broader Republican criticism of Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases official, for asking Americans to wear masks to protect against the virus and for being skeptical of a very theory at times. controversial that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

He called Fauci “not a great doctor, but a great promoter” for his frequent television appearances. “But he has been wrong on almost every issue and also in Wuhan and in the lab,” Trump said.

Trump’s own handling of the pandemic, in which nearly 600,000 people in the United States have died and he himself was infected, was a factor in his defeat to President Joe Biden in 2020. He also asked China to pay $ 10 trillion in reparations to the United States and the world for their own handling of the virus, and said the nations should cancel their debt to Beijing.

Trump said a criminal investigation launched by the New York attorney general’s office was “the latest fishing expedition” and the latest attempt by Democrats to bring him down after two sagas of impeachment when he was president. “It’s been a five-year witch hunt, one hoax after another,” Trump said. “They will never stop until November 2024.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely reported property values ​​to guarantee loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.

Trump’s address to hundreds of Republican officials and activists was the opening appearance in what is expected to be a new phase of rallies and public events. Out of office for more than four months and barred from his preferred social media accounts, the former president hopes to use such events to raise his diminished voice.

His advisers are already considering subsequent appearances in Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Georgia to help bolster midterm candidates and energize voters.

On Friday, Facebook decided to suspend his account for two years after he incited his supporters to attack the United States Capitol in service of his lie that his loss to Biden was the result of electoral fraud. At the end of the suspension period, Facebook said, it would work with experts to assess the public safety risk posed by reinstating Trump’s account.

In contrast to the mega rallies that filled sports arenas when Trump was president, on Saturday he faced a crowd that organizers estimated at 1,200 seated at tables in the Greenville convention center. Many more followed throughout the internet broadcasts.

The former president waited more than an hour to advance falsehoods about the 2020 elections, which he described as “the crime of the century.”

Since leaving the White House, Trump has regularly made unsubstantiated claims that the last presidential election was stolen. The claims have triggered a wave of Republican-backed voting restrictions in state legislatures across the country, even as Trump’s cries of voter fraud have been refuted by dozens of Republican judges, governors, and senior officials of his own. administration.

Trump focused his first remarks on the Biden White House, which he called “the most radical left-wing administration in history.” “As we meet tonight, our country is being destroyed before our very eyes,” he said.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Ammar Moussa fired at Trump in a statement issued before his speech.

“Over 400,000 Americans killed, millions of jobs lost, and reckless and dangerous rhetoric apparently is not enough for Republicans to break up with a losing president who cost them the White House, Senate and House,” Moussa said.

Invited to the stage briefly, Trump’s daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump announced that she would not run for Senate due to family obligations. “I’m saying no for now, not forever,” he said.

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