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Trump calls 2024 election ‘final battle’ in first official campaign rally

Former US president Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport Saturday, on March 25, 2023, in Waco, Texas. (Via AP)

Former US President Donald Trump has held his first official rally for his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas, promising that “2024 will be the final battle” and that he will overcome the accusations against him.

On Saturday, Trump hosted a rally in Waco’s regional airport that drew more than 15,000 of his supporters.

Throughout his speech, he blasted Democratic government officials and praised those convicted after riots on January 6, 2021.

“In 2024 is the final battle, it’s going to be the big one. You put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again,” Trump said.

The 45th president repeated his conspiracy theories around the 2020 presidential election that was “rigged”, and raged against the “weaponization of law enforcement”, branding the prosecutors overseeing multiple investigations into his conduct as “absolute human scum.”

The rally comes as Trump is facing investigations in New York City over a hush money payment in the final days of the 2016 presidential race, in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, by Justice Department over classified documents the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago, his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the January 2021 riots.

Trump told the crowd that the investigations are part of “prosecutorial misconduct” used by the opposition.

“The thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited, and totally disgraced,” he said.

Maintaining the investigation was over "something that is not a crime, not a misdemeanor, not an affair," Trump told supporters how he had been the victim of "one witch hunt and phony investigation after another."

'Biggest threat to US isn't China or Russia, but American leaders'

In a nearly 90-minute speech, Trump said the “biggest threat” to the US isn't China or Russia, but American leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Biden, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“In many ways, these sick people are more of a threat, because we can deal with China,” Trump said, blaming the Biden administration for Russia's ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, claiming he can end the war after winning the 2024 election, and before taking office. 

He said he would end the war in Ukraine through a settlement in “24 hours,” adding that he will prevent World War III.

Trump promised to end inflation, build the world’s greatest economy, and make America energy independent and also planned to set term limits for members of Congress.

In his speech, Trump promised to fight against open borders, out-of-control crime, and bad economic policies. He also promised to be tough on illegal immigration, saying he would put more border security officers in place and stage one of the largest deportation programs in history.

Although the rally had been previously scheduled, it came just one week after Trump claimed on his Truth Social messaging platform that he expected to be arrested and called on his supporters to hold protests.

However, the week came and went without any indictment or arrest, but that didn't deter the crowd in Waco.

The former US President has warned that filing court charges against him could result in “potential death and destruction,” that “could be catastrophic for our country,” escalating his attacks on the Manhattan district attorney's investigation. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been investigating Trump for allegedly falsifying business records in connection to a “hush money” payout made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has maintained his innocence and has denied ever having a relationship with Daniels.

The Manhattan D.A.'s investigation is one of several investigations into the former president's conduct. Trump is also under several other probes including a federal investigation for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, a special prosecutor’s probe into possible mishandling of classified documents, and potential obstruction of justice and his role in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

The choice of location for the rally was also striking as Trump’s critics described the rally as anti-democratic and un-American. Trump's rally came during the 30th anniversary of the Waco standoff between the FBI and the anti-government Branch Davidian religious cult. The 51-day deadly siege began on February 28, 1993, and resulted in the deaths of 86 people.  

“His choice of Waco on the anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff was to embrace the rightwing extremists who gave him the violent protests he craves. His followers got the message, loud and clear,” The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said in a statement.

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