Former US president Donald Trump has railed against the “weaponized and corrupt” US justice system, after prosecutors indicted him for mishandling classified materials.
Trump rallied his supporters on Saturday to back him in his fight against what he called the unfair legal attack in his appearance before two state Republican conventions — first in Georgia and then North Carolina.
“The baseless indictment of me by the [incumbent US president Joe] Biden administration’s weaponized department of injustice will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country,” he said.
“I will never yield. I will never be deterred,” he vowed. “We’re going to evict a totally corrupt president named Joe Biden from the White House.”
He lashed out at Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith for indicting him on multiple felony charges. “You're dealing with crazy lunatics.”
The 37-count criminal indictment against Trump, released on Friday, accused the former president of risking some of the country’s most sensitive security secrets, including some about US nuclear secrets and military plans.
It alleges that Trump has kept classified US government documents at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago and conspired to prevent their return to the White House.
Trump is running for a second term in the White House and is a front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 US presidential election.
He claimed the charges are “politically motivated” and he was being pursued in court because he was running for a second term in the White House.
“That’s why they’re doing it, if I wasn’t, there would be no witch hunt, there would be no indictment,” he told supporters.
Trump is due to go on trial in New York next March in a state case regarding hush-money paid to Stormy Daniels, an adult movies star.
Georgia prosecutors are also investigating his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state.
He is also due to appear in federal court in Miami to answer the explosive charges he put US national security “at risk” by willfully retaining classified defense information, conspiring to obstruct justice, corruptly concealing documents, and making false statements.
It is the first-ever criminal prosecution against a former US president. The charges, brought by Smith, carry up to 20 years in prison each.
Nonetheless, the indictment does not prevent Trump from campaigning or taking office if he were to win the November 2024 presidential election.
Legal experts say there would be no basis in the US legal system to block his swearing-in even if he were convicted and sent to prison over the criminal charges.
Moreover, the US Department of Justice is part of the executive branch, and presidents are the top federal law enforcement officers in the country. Federal prosecutors generally serve at their pleasure.
The justice department's decades-old policy says that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted. The department can deviate from the policy in “extraordinary circumstances” with the approval of the US attorney general.
If Trump wins the presidency again, he could possibly pardon himself.
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