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During his first public remarks since the unsealing of the 49-page, 37-charge indictment against him, Donald Trump again lashed out at special counsel Jack Smith the lead prosecutor in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents probe.
Speaking at the state Republican Party convention in Columbus, Georgia, the former president and current presidential candidate gave a meandering stump speech weaving in his apparent incredulity regarding the charges levied against him.
As with all of his foes, political or judicial, Mr Trump has already veered into personal attacks against the individuals concerned on his social media platform Truth Social but relished his first opportunity to talk to a large, enraptured crowd of followers.
After calling the indictment a “political hit job” and claiming “Republicans are treated far differently at the Justice Department than Democrats”, Mr Trump pondered whether Mr Smith had changed his name.
“You know I’m talking about Jack Smith. What do you think his name used to be? I don’t know … Sounds so innocent. He’s deranged.”
The former president didn’t stop there. He continued: “Deranged Jack Smith and I watched him yesterday go up and talk. He talked for about two and a half minutes. He was shaking. He was so scared. He didn’t want to be there. Because ultimately, these are cowards. They’re cowards.”
He added: “And he’s a big Trump hater, openly he’s a Trump hater. And his wife is even more of a Trump hater. I wish her a lot of luck. But he’s a bad Trump hater and she’s a Trump hater.”
Mr Trump returned to the topic of his indictments a couple of times during the speech which went on for much longer than expected as he revelled in the applause from the crowd, who booed and jeered at the mention of his political opponents.
Trump: Deranged Jack Smith. I watched him yesterday go up and talk.. He was shaking. He was so scared. He didn’t want to be there because ultimately these are cowards pic.twitter.com/llB3bHSxUO
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 10, 2023
The federal indictment against the former president outlines 37 counts related to retaining classified information, willfully retaining national defence information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and more.
The indictment was unsealed on Friday afternoon (9 June), revealing the Department of Justice’s findings after a nearly year-long investigation into Mr Trump retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Last August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized boxes of documents from Mr Trump’s home, some of which included top-secret records detailing a foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities.
As the former president raged against the indictment online on Friday, Mr Smith gave a televised speech from the Justice Department — as referenced by Mr Trump in Saturday’s remarks.
Mr Smith stressed that laws intended to “protect national defence information are critical to the safety and security of the United States. And they must be enforced.”
“Violations of those laws put our country at risk. Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world,” he added. “We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”