(WILKES-BARRE, Penn.) — In his first rally since the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home last month, former President Donald Trump took the stage in Pennsylvania for nearly two hours during which he responded to the raid on his home last month and President Joe Biden’s remarks earlier this week.
“The shameful raid and break-in of my home Mar-a-Lago was a travesty of justice,” Trump said of the search. “The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters.”
Trump was in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Saturday campaigning in support of Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor against Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is taking on Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the U.S. Senate race.
Trump praised both candidates while emphasizing the importance of taking back the House and Senate this November.
“Two months from now the people of Pennsylvania are going to fire the radical left democrats and you are going to elect Doug Mastriano as your next governor, and you are going to send my friend Oz, he is a great guy, to the US Senate,” Trump said. “You’re going to elect an amazing slate of true America first Republicans to Congress.”
And though Saturday’s rally was in support of his Pennsylvania candidates, Trump spent the vast majority of his speech focused on his own issues– mainly with the FBI, the Department of Justice, fellow Republicans and Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to give the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president…..He’s an enemy of the state,” Trump said in response to Biden’s remarks earlier this week.
Amid these high stakes, Trump’s rally also comes as fallout continues from the Aug. 8 FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where agents recovered classified documents as part of an investigation into his handling of presidential records after leaving office.
On Friday, Judge Cannon unsealed a detailed inventory showing what the FBI seized during the search. The list states some documents bearing classification markings ranging from confidential to top secret were found intermingled with newspaper clippings, photographs and other documents.
Trump almost immediately launched into a response to the raid of his Mar-a-Lago home Saturday, framing it as persecution of a political enemy. He attacked law enforcement without offering any substantive response to the allegations against him regarding his handling of classified documents.
“There could be no more vivid example of the very real threats of American freedom than just a few weeks ago you saw when we witnessed one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history. The shameful raid and breaking of my home Mar a Lago was a travesty of justice,” Trump said.
Those in line to hear him speak on Saturday expressed beliefs that Trump was unfairly targeted.
“I don’t feel he did anything wrong. I think that will come out in the end, but they just want to turn people against Trump,” said Barbara, a voter from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania.
Trump’s appearance in Pennsylvania comes just days after President Joe Biden’s back-to-back visits in the battleground state, during which he condemned Trump and his fellow “MAGA Republicans” as a dominant force in today’s GOP and a threat to American democracy.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden said in a prime-time speech from Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Biden’s ramped up rhetoric comes as he seeks to recast the November elections as a choice between those who want to save the “soul of the nation” or those who he says are a danger to democracy.
“Joe Biden came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to give the most vicious, hateful and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president,” Trump said “You’re all enemies of the state? He’s an enemy of the state. You want to know the truth.”
Trump supporters waiting in line to see the former president give remarks criticized Biden’s rhetoric and said it has only energized them even more ahead of the midterms. Evy Mecjes, and Debbie Latsha called Biden’s speech “very divisive.”
“We’re now the bad guys. We are the terrorists of the United States of America,” Mecjes said.
Latsha said Biden’s speech showed how “afraid” Democrats were of the power Trump still has over the Republican Party.
“They’re a little afraid of all the people that are rising up and whose eyes are being opened, who are waking up to what’s truly happening in our government,” Latsha said. “So let’s see if we can smash them down a little bit more and divide people a little bit more. I mean, there was nothing unifying about that.”
They defended Trump supporters pointing to school closures during the pandemic and inflation as examples of how they felt Democrats have hurt Americans.
“People are rising up because we’re pissed off about how our government is treating us and you know, President Biden does not speak for the people,” Mecjes remarked.
Biden will be back in Pennsylvania again on Sunday, spending part of his Labor Day weekend in Pittsburgh.
While Republicans have generally been favored to win back control of both chambers of Congress this midterm cycle, recent legislative victories for Democrats and some positive economic news has bolstered Democrats’ chances to keep their majorities.
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