Trump rails against Biden, 'deep state' at first speech after classified docs indictment: 'Political hit job'
Former President Donald Trump on Saturday tore into the federal indictment accusing him of mishandling classified documents, accusing Democrats of a "political hit job" against him as he alleged a double standard in the administration of justice.
"They took one charge, and they made it 36 different times. And we have a thug who is in charge. This is a political hit job, Republicans are treated far differently at the Justice Department than Democrats," he said in the speech at the Georgia Republican state convention.
The 2024 front-runner was indicted Friday on 37 federal counts, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements.
The remarks mark his first public remarks since the indictment. He will make another speech later Saturday to the North Carolina GOP state convention.
The indictment accuses Trump of failing to comply with demands to return classified documents — including plans for a retaliatory attack on an unnamed foreign power — he had gathered in Mar-a-Lago. Other documents include defense and weapon capabilities of the U.S. and details of the U.S. nuclear program.
"The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods," the indictment says.
It also accuses him of storing the documents in a bathroom and other places at the residence, and of even bragging and showing off the documents to visitors. In one instance, he is said to have told individuals of a document, "as president, I could have declassified it," and, "Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret."
He is also said to have directed an aide to move boxes of documents demanded by a grand jury subpoena while claiming to have fully cooperated. The FBI opened a criminal investigation into the matter in March 2022.
Trump, allies and even other 2024 presidential candidates have dismissed the charges as politically motivated, and contrast it with what they believe is lighter treatment of more serious offenses by Democrats.
"The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration's weaponized Department of Justice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country," Trump said. "This vicious persecution is a travesty of justice."
He also took aim at President Biden directly, accusing him of "trying to jail his leading political opponent and opponent that's beating him by a lot in the polls, just like they do in Stalinist Russia or communist China."
Biden asserted he had no involvement with the Justice Department's probe into the Trump documents as he took questions at the White House Thursday, before Trump's indictment.
"I have never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge," Biden said. "I'm honest."
The indictment adds additional legal turmoil to Trump’s bid for re-election, coming after he was indicted in New York in an alleged hush money scheme earlier this year. He will make his first federal court appearance on Tuesday.
Other Republicans on the campaign trail, including those who have been extremely critical of the former president, have largely declined to attack him over the indictment so far, and have shared the sentiment that the prosecution is politically motivated.
"The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said as news of the indictment emerged.
Trump on Saturday sought to cast the upcoming presidential contest as a choice not just between Democrats and Republicans, but between the "deep state" and democracy.
"Either we have a deep state or we have a democracy. We're going to have one or the other. And we're right at the tipping point," he said.
"And either they win or we win. It's very simple. They win or we win," he said.
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.