Former President Donald J. Trump, who faces a criminal case accusing him of illegal possession of classified documents, on Friday blasted a special counsel's decision not to indict President Biden for his handling of classified documents, accusing prosecutors of unfair double standards.
“You know, look, if he shouldn't be charged, that's up to them. But then I shouldn’t be charged,” Mr. Trump said at an event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “This is nothing more than selective persecution of Biden’s political opponent: me. »
Mr. Trump's speech, at a forum hosted by the National Rifle Association, was his first public remarks on the issue since the special counsel, Robert K. Hur, issued a report saying that although Mr. Biden “voluntarily” retained and disclosed classified documents after the end of his vice presidency, no criminal charges were warranted.
Mr. Trump said he had cooperated more “with very unfriendly and hostile federal authorities” than Mr. Biden, a claim that is not supported by any evidence. Mr. Hur's report says the president fully cooperated with his investigation, while Mr. Trump is accused of misleading the government for months about classified documents in his possession.
Mr. Trump also insisted that Mr. Biden’s transgressions were more serious than his own, in part because Mr. Biden was not president at the time of his actions. Mr. Trump faces 40 counts related to his retention of sensitive documents after leaving office and his refusal to return them, even after being subpoenaed for classified records.
“They're desperately trying to turn the disaster of the Biden document into 'Oh, but wasn't Trump worse?' No no no. Trump was a peanut in comparison,” Mr. Trump said.
He then referenced the special prosecutor's comments questioning Mr. Biden's mental memory, arguing that the president had mishandled classified documents at a time when “he was mentally a little better than he is now “.
Mr. Trump's speech in Pennsylvania, a swing state expected to be a crucial battleground in November, suggested how he might use the special prosecutor's report to bolster two arguments at the heart of his campaign: that he is a victim of unfair prosecutions by Democrats and that Mr. Biden is not mentally competent enough to be president.
Mr. Trump has also explicitly expressed his desire to reduce Democrats' support base in a state he has falsely claimed to have won twice. Without giving details, he argued that the border crisis would disproportionately affect the key constituencies he is trying to win over from Democrats: “African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and all unions.” .
But even as he signaled his efforts to court undecided voters, Mr. Trump also used the setting of his speech — a forum at an outdoor sports exhibition sponsored by the NRA — to emphasize his support for women's rights. guns, an issue at the heart of conservative politics. policy.
He forcefully promised to defend gun rights against “aggression” from Democrats. Although he offered few specific policy proposals, he promised to roll back all of Mr. Biden's gun control efforts.
“No one will lay a finger on your guns,” he told the crowd, which erupted in cheers.