Washington: Former US President Donald Trump has held the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas, railing against prosecutors investigating him, and employing dark and conspiratorial language to fire up his base ahead of next year’s Republican primary elections.
Trump — facing potential indictment — opened Saturday’s rally by playing a song, “Justice for All,” that features a choir of men imprisoned for their role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol singing the national anthem and a recording of Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Some footage from the insurrection was shown on screens.
In his speech, Trump defended the insurrectionists, saying they will be “vindicated”, and described the investigations swirling around him as “something straight out of the Stalinist Russia horror show”.
“From the beginning it’s been one witch hunt and phony investigation after another,” he said.
Trump is being investigated by prosecutors in Manhattan for campaign finance violations stemming from his alleged payment of hush money to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election. A special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice is also investigating allegations he hoarded top-secret documents and masterminded a plot seeking to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump declared on Saturday that his “enemies are desperate to stop us,” and “our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit and to break our will”.
“But they failed,” he said. “They’ve only made us stronger. And 2024 is the final battle, it’s going to be the big one. You put me back in the White House, their reign will be over and America will be a free nation once again.”
Trump held his rally at the airport grounds in Waco as the city marked the 30th anniversary of a raid by federal agents on the Branch Davidians religious sect there that resulted in 86 deaths, including four law enforcement officers. Many right-wing extremists see the raid as a seminal moment of government overreach, and critics saw the rally’s timing as a nod to Trump’s far-right supporters.
Trump’s campaign insisted the location and timing of the event had nothing to do with the Waco siege or its anniversary.