Former US President Donald Trump has dismissed the federal indictment against him as “absurd and unfounded” during his first public appearance since the charges were announced.
Unveiled on Friday, the 37-count indictment alleges that Trump stored sensitive documents at his Mar-a-Lago property. Trump, speaking on Saturday, claimed that the indictment constituted “election interference” orchestrated by the “corrupt” FBI and Justice Department. He firmly denied any wrongdoing.
According to the indictment, Trump is accused of mishandling numerous classified files, including documents related to US nuclear secrets and military plans. The charges state that he stored these files in the ballroom and a shower at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The indictment also alleges that Trump obstructed investigators and lied to them during their inquiry into his handling of the documents. This case marks the first criminal prosecution ever initiated against a former US president.
During a speech at a Republican Party convention in Georgia on Saturday, Trump criticized the “cheating, crooked, and corrupt” individuals within the FBI and justice system. He joked about receiving subpoenas every time he flew over a Democratic-controlled “blue state.”
Trump, who is running for the presidency again in 2024, dismissed the indictment as a “hoax” orchestrated by the “corrupt political establishment.”
He described it as a “joke” and a “travesty” during his hour-long speech, which included expressions of gratitude to his supporters and condemnation of what he perceived as “sinister forces” at work in the country.
The former president singled out Marxists, communists, “environmental extremists,” RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), “open border fanatics,” and “radical left Democrats” as the groups conspiring against him.
Trump argued that the highly sensitive documents should have fallen under the Presidential Records Act instead of the Espionage Act. Under the Presidential Records Act, White House records should be transferred to the National Archives after an administration ends, and proper storage measures must be implemented.
He also claimed that Mar-a-Lago had been raided by “gun-toting FBI agents.”
Special Counsel Jack Smith, overseeing the investigation, refuted claims of political motivation behind the charges, stating that the law applies to everyone.
As the 2024 election approaches, Trump’s speech took place at a Republican Party convention in Columbus, Georgia, followed by another event in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is currently the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Earlier at the North Carolina event, his former vice president Mike Pence, who recently announced his own run for the presidency, criticized Trump, though they are not expected to cross paths.
Georgia is anticipated to be a crucial battleground in the race for the White House, as it was where Trump narrowly lost to President Joe Biden in 2020. It could also become the site of additional legal challenges for the former president, as state officials are currently investigating whether Trump violated the law by asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to change the outcome in his favor.