‘The Only Crime That I’ve Committed Is To Fearlessly Defend Our Nation’ – Trump Cries Out

Donald Trump told the world that America “is going to hell” in a defiant speech from the ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago resort following his arrest in Manhattan, capping a day of high drama that put the former president centre stage as he plots a return to the White House.

In a choreographed rally-style appearance, Mr Trump said the case against him was “an insult to our country” and insisted he had not committed any crime just hours after being charged over alleged hush money for affairs paid to a porn star, glamour model and former doorman.

Despite being warned earlier about his rhetoric in court in New York, Mr Trump lashed out at the judge overseeing his criminal case, calling him the “real criminal”.

The 76-year-old had arrived in his “Trump Force One” private jet after he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a New York court, a moment that plunged the US into uncharted territory and threatens to overshadow the 2024 presidential race.

At his beachfront mansion in southern Florida, against a backdrop of two American flags, he told an audience of several hundred supporters: “I never thought anything like this could happen in America.

“The only crime that I’ve committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it. It’s an insult to our country.”

In a speech revisiting many of his favoured claims about his political rivals, he suggested he lost the 2020 vote unfairly “because our country is going to hell”.

Mr Trump went on to rail against the judge who oversaw his arraignment, Justice Juan Merchan, calling him “a Trump-hating judge”.

The attack came despite Mr Trump being specifically warned about his use of inflammatory rhetoric in court.

Mr Trump had earlier faced a total of 34 felony charges of falsifying business records and pleaded not guilty to all of them during a 45-minute hearing.

Prosecutors said Mr Trump had “orchestrated a ‘catch and kill’ scheme” to “purchase negative information” about himself, and then “went to great lengths to hide this conduct”.

They alleged that payments included $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Mr Trump fathering a child out of wedlock.

The indictment related to a “conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election” and also involved a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, prosecutors said.

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