Trump, quoting Putin, declares accusations “politically motivated persecution”

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Former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday invoked Vladimir V. Putin to back his argument that the four criminal indictments he faces are political vendetta, quoting the Russian president as saying the charges undermine the argument that the United States is an example. of democracy for the world.

Trump made the comment during a campaign speech in Durham, NH, in which he focused on voters' economic concerns, criticized the state's Republican governor, who endorsed one of his rivals, and mocked his worse-performing competitors. in the polls for not performing better and painted a dystopian vision of a country in “hell” under his successor, President Biden.

“Even Vladimir Putin says that Biden's politically motivated persecution (and this is a quote) against his political rival is very good for Russia, because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot hope to teach others about democracy,” Mr. Trump said while criticizing the 91 criminal charges he faces, quoting Putin speaking in September.

Trump added: “So, you know, we talk about democracy, but the whole world is watching the persecution of a political opponent who is kicking his ass. It's something amazing. And everyone laughs at us.”

There is no evidence that Biden meddled in Trump's prosecutions, which are taking place in four different federal and state courts and cover a variety of issues, including his possession of reams of classified material after he left office and his efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 elections.

And Biden's Justice Department has twice charged Biden's son, Hunter, with gun possession and tax charges. But Trump has continued to claim, without evidence, that all prosecutors (including the state attorneys of New York and Georgia) are doing the bidding of his successor.

Trump's mention of Putin, an authoritarian strongman, came as critics have raised alarm about his potentially radical plans for a second term. Last week, Trump said he would be a dictator “from day one” of his presidency, a comment he called a joke but later reiterated.

In defending Putin's words, Trump referred to one of Biden's main adversaries as a credible observer of the American political system. The US intelligence community has assessed that Russian officials interfered in the 2016 election and have repeatedly attempted to destabilize the US election.

But suggesting that the United States is not much better than authoritarian countries and positively invoking Putin has been a recurring theme for Trump since he took office in 2017.

At Saturday's rally, a relatively new slogan for his campaign, “Better with Trump,” was displayed on a screen above Trump's head as he stood on stage before a packed crowd at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center. In his speech, Trump criticized Biden's economic policies and then said broadly that the president had contributed to the degradation of Americans' daily lives.

“We are going to get our country out of hell. “He's in hell,” Trump said. He cited statistics such as mortgage rates and attacked Biden's energy policies. He also revived a widely condemned comment about immigrants “poisoning the blood of our country,” noting that immigrants come not only from South America but also from Africa and Asia. He did not mention Europe.

Trump also described his main competitors, all of whom are far behind him in state and national polls, as “losers who are backstabbing the establishment and traitors who are far behind us,” and called them “ insincere RINOs” (Republicans by name). only.

The former president spent considerable time ridiculing Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador, for a much-vaunted “rise” that he said only manifested itself in comparison to worse-performing candidates in the polls. Although he is currently the leading alternative to Trump in New Hampshire, surpassing Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, polls have consistently shown Trump with a double-digit lead in the state.

Haley received an endorsement this week from popular Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Trump critic whose support Haley's team hopes will help attract more moderate Republicans and independent voters, who are allowed to participate in the primary. New Hampshire. Those voters are also being courted by other candidates, including former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Trump lashed out at those efforts, accusing his rivals of recruiting “subversive” outsiders like “radical left Democrats” to chip away at his lead.

He also criticized Sununu, calling him a “spoiled brat” who was doing a “bad job” and had not sufficiently appreciated Trump's attention to the state during his presidency.

“I gave New Hampshire everything they asked for and more,” said Trump, who has long taken a transactional, tit-for-tat view of government. “And it's hard to do that when you can't stand the governor, right? But he is a selfish guy.”

Saturday's rally was Trump's first event in New Hampshire in more than a month. The former president, who has maintained a lighter campaign schedule than most of his competitors, has spent more time recently in Iowa, where his campaign is seeking a dominant victory that could encourage his rivals to drop out of the race. .

His advisers see his path in New Hampshire as more predictable. The state gave him a decisive first primary victory in his effort to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.

Trump would travel to Nevada, the third nominating state, later on Saturday to watch a UFC fight in Las Vegas, and then for a rally in Reno on Sunday. He returns to Iowa for an event Tuesday.

Before Trump took the stage in New Hampshire, his two top political advisers, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, spoke briefly with reporters. Ms. Wiles said Mr. Trump would increase the pace of his campaign as January began, and his hope was to pick up successive victories in the first four states to be in a strong position to accumulate delegates by mid-March.

He said the criminal trials Trump could face — including the federal case over his efforts to stay in power and the state case in Manhattan involving hush money payments to a porn star — present a “nightmare” in scheduling his Campaign.

“I think the goal is to get him off the field at a very critical moment,” he said.



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