In his first public appearances since his federal indictment was unsealed on Friday, former President Donald Trump said he would “never be detained” and “never stop fighting” for his followers.
Trump, who was most recently charged with keeping hundreds of classified documents in his home—including information about sensitive military and nuclear programs—and refusing to return them to government officials, spoke at state Republican conventions in Georgia and North Carolina on Saturday.
“For 7 years we’ve been engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the Sinister forces within who hate it,” Trump said in Columbus, Georgia. “And on November 5, 2024, we’re going to stand up to the corrupt political establishment. We’re going to evict a totally corrupt president, Joe Biden, from the White House. And we’re going to finish the job that we started.”
This indictment, for which the 45th U.S. president faces 37 federal charges, marks Trump’s second indictment. Trump separately faces criminal charges for allegedly paying hush money to former porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in 2016. He is also under federal investigation for his alleged efforts to overturn Georgia’s presidential election vote in 2020, as well as his connection to the January 6, 2021, attack on the capitol.
Throughout his speeches, Trump repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, instead putting the blame for the charges he faces on “partisan prosecutors.”
“The Marxist left is once again using the same corrupt [Department of Justice] and the same corrupt FBI, and the attorney general and the local district attorneys to interfere … They’re cheating. They’re crooked. They’re corrupt. These criminals cannot be rewarded. They must be defeated. You have to defeat them,” Trump said during the Georgia conference.
The former president also called out President Joe Biden and Mike Pence, who were found to have classified documents in their offices and homes, but were not charged because they returned the documents to officials once they were discovered. “Nothing happened to Crooked Joe with all that … He has so many classified documents … This is a sick nest of people that needs to be cleaned out immediately,” Trump added.
Still, Trump remains one of the frontrunners for the 2024 presidential election, even saying during his Georgia speech that the latest indictment is increasing his polling numbers.
“It’s a horrible thing for this country,” Trump said, speaking of the indictment, “[but] the only good thing about it is it’s driven my poll numbers way up.” A CBS News poll found that Trump remains ahead of other Republican challengers in the polls, and that Republican primary voters are more worried that the indictment is a political attack against Trump instead of a national security risk. Even if he’s convicted, 80% of voters say that Trump should still be able to be president.
As he was boarding his plane to fly to North Carolina from Georgia, Trump told Politico that he planned on staying in the running for re-election even if were to be convicted. “I’ll never leave,” he said. “Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one. In theory that was not doable.”
However, officials like former Attorney General Bill Barr have said that the indictment could put Trump in serious trouble, as he expressed shock at the sensitive information the former president had access to after leaving office. “If even half of it is true, he’s toast. It is a very detailed indictment and it’s very, very damning,” Barr said on Fox News Sunday.
Trump has been ordered to appear in court in Miami on Tuesday in relation to the federal charges, where his supporters have called for an uprising in his defense.
Correction, June 12
The original version of this story misstated where Bill Barr spoke about the case. It was on Fox News Sunday not Sunday on Fox News.
More Must-Reads From TIME
- Meet the 2024 Women of the Year
- Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing
- East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment
- In the Belly of MrBeast
- The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap
- How Long Should You Isolate With COVID-19?
- The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time
Contact us at email@example.com